Welcome to the Website of The Clove Club.

The Clove Club is the organisation for anyone who attended Hackney Downs School (formerly The Grocers’ Company’s School), Downs Park Road, London,E.5.

The School closed at the end of 1995 but The Clove Club, the Old Boys Association, flourishes with just over 700 members on the books.

Membership of the Club is open to anyone, former pupil or former member of the staff, and its principle aim is to seek to promote and prolong the friendships formed at School and to make it possible, in later life, to meet again those with whom you will have shared some of your most important and formative years.

We strive to serve the interests of members in a number of different ways. We recognise that some may wish to take an “active” part by attending reunions, writing articles for newsletters and so on. Others may shy away from physical attendance at reunions but may gain pleasure simply by reading newsletters evoking memories of friends, teachers.

There is a flourishing e-mail group (open to all and which may be joined using the link on our home page). Posting a request for information, or reminiscing about a particular event can bring contact with others who share the same memory or who can help in answering the request.

To register simply for information from the Club itself, but without advertising your address on this site or through the e-group, you can register direct with the Secretary and the information will remain private for Club use only.

I hope you will enjoy the content of our website and, if you are not already a member, that you will consider joining us. All the details are on the site, the subscription is only £10 per annum and an application form is on the page labelled “Join the Clove Club” (and this includes a downloadable banker’s order form if you wish).

The site carries a few photographs, a sound file of two former teachers and other memory provoking material. You are welcome to make an enquiry of the Club, without commitment, and if we can help we will.

I hope we will hear from you.

Best wishes,

G.L. “Willie” Watkins, 1953-1960, Lucas’ House,

Hon. President and Secretary


Sunday, 10th June, 2018.

We have been very fortunate in locating an exciting new venue at Doggetts Coat and Badge. Number One Blackfriars (a Nicholsons Pub) with a private room and glorious views of the City Skyline including St.Paul’s (though not the Shard!)

Our first two lunches at this new venue have been great successes and we have booked it again for 10th June 2018.


To be announced 

The booking form and menu will be published with the March issue of “The Clove’s Lines” so that options can be exercised.

Recent Clove Club News

March 2017 The Clove Lines – PDF link……

January 2017 – four pictures taken on the final visit to the school before it’s total demolition – “I understood that it had been used for a while as a film location, for the likes of ‘London’s Burning’, so there had been no expectation of it having remained in pristine condition”. kindly sent by Jeffrey Sharpe to the Clove Club.

January 2017 – four pictures kindly sent by Jeffrey Sharpe to the Clove Club. “Taken on the final visit to the school before it’s total demolition.” Jeff understood that it had been used for a while as a film location, for the likes of ‘London’s Burning’, so there had been no expectation of it having remained in pristine condition.

Myself (Jeff Sharpe) in the poolside shower and changing room.

The Gym Swimming Pool

The skeleton of the covered fives court.

2002: An informal get together to celebrate the golden anniversary of our induction to the school in 1952, pictured with our respective partners, from left to right, Michael Herman, David Press and myself.

A teaser from Willie Watkins –  Can you name the teacher in this picture?

Answer here…..

January 2017

e-mail from Henry Grinberg who lives in New York and who appeared in Joe Brearley’s plays alongside Harold Pinter.   He is, as you will see, still very active.

Hi Friends,


Delighted to inform you that Suzanne and I appear in a new documentary movie to be shown at Museum of Modern Art, described below.  The sequences in which we appear were shot more than a year ago.


Manfred Kirchheimer is an old friend of mine (we met some 50 years ago). He is an enormously gifted filmmaker, recipient of a recently bestowed Guggenheim Award.

I should point out that, among other issues, while discussing Israel, I argue for a two-state outcome.


My Coffee with Jewish Friends. 2017. MoMA presents the world premiere of Kirchheimer’s latest film, a humorous and illuminating series of coffee klatches with 20 friends that proves the old adage, “Where you have two Jews, you have three opinions.” Ranging in age from 18 to 85, and in experience from greenhorn to Pulitzer-Prize winner, the film’s subjects kibitz over all manner of concern, from Israel to tight pants, gay rights, and the place of women at the Wailing Wall. 90 min. WORLD PREMIERE. Friday, February 3, 6:30 p.m. (INTRODUCED BY MANFRED KIRCHHEIMER) T2 Wednesday, February 8, 6:00 p.m.  (MoMa, Auditorium T2) 

Love and best wishes, Henry”

We are delighted to announce that Professor Geoffrey Alderman has been appointed a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.




ISBN 978-1-907953-66-8 published by Twig Books (www.twigbooks.com) at £12-99 plus £1 UK p&p


Tucked away in North London is an Old Boy of Hackney Downs School who, after suffering the privations of evacuation during the Second World War, started his career with Unilever, became the supplier of sporting facts – often live ‘on air’ to Radio and TV commentators – and was appointed Sports Editor of the Guinness Book of Records.

Stan Greenberg has published a book of his ‘memoirs’, often notes written at the time of the event, notes on people met and places visited.   A fascinating miscellany of a well-travelled career assembled by one who turned his hobby into a livelihood.   The alphabetical index of people, at the back of the book, provides clues as to the breadth of experience by a man who has attended no fewer than nine Olympic Games and whose memoirs to himself include Alexander Averbukh, Bernard Bresslaw, Bing Crosby, Otto Feldmanis, Buster Keaton, Maurice Micklewhite, John Ngugi, Raquel Welch and Emil Zatopek and a host of others all encased in Stan’s easy narrative.   You’ll probably have to read the book to find out who Alexander Averbukh was and what he did.   The book is not all sports stars and incorporates many other experiences – a book to read at one sitting, or a book to dip in to; what better story to enliven the dark days of winter!   A book I can thoroughly recommend.  WW


TWIG BOOKS at 1-2 Biggs Lane, Dinton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP17 8UH


Clove Club Lunch – 5th June 2016 – Doggetts Coat and Badge

Clove Club 59’ers Lunch October 2015

Clove Club 59ers Lunch October 2015

59ers Lunch October 2015 – Danny Baron, Ray Beckman, Gary Gray, Mike Couzens, David Viniker, Ian Ellengold, Malcolm Stern and Keith Quinton

Clove Club Lunch – 7th June 2015 Presentation to Willie Watkins


Clove Club Lunch - June 2015

Clove Club Lunch – June 2015

Clove Club Lunch - June 2015

Clove Club Lunch – June 2015

Clove Club Lunch - June 2015

Clove Club Lunch – June 2015

Clove Club Lunch - June 2015

Clove Club Lunch – June 2015

See more….


GORDON  Bob 53-60, GORDON Helen, CRAIG Charles 64-70, BENCH Steve 64-70, SNOWDEN Barry 53-61, SNOWDEN  Rochelle, ROSE  Harvey  53-58, NORTHEAST  Alan, 955-ish, NORTHEAST Jean, DARBY   John, GASKING Terry 51-56, BARNS Terry, BAKER  Terry, BAKER  June  DCSS, CALLAND  Albert, LICHTEN Roger, HARDING   Brian  53-60
IVIMEY Albert , ALTERMAN   Jules, ALTERMAN  Jules, ALTERMAN  Jules, SINGER Jack, TOMLINSON David , TOMLINSON Brenda, ROBINSON  Peter, DUBOSE Wayne, WHITBY   Eileen DCSS, QUINN Ian, QUINN  Linda, BANFIELD   Mike, BARDEN  Ronnie  53-60, BARDEN  Ronnie (Jila) , GOLLOW Jo, RIES Geoffrey, GORDON   Richard
HALES   Betty , HALES  Betty (Guest) , WHITE Rod 53-60, HARAZI   Zac, BAILEY  Tony, BAILEY Tony (Guest) , MILLMAN  Ivor , STANFORD   David , STANFORD   David (Mrs.) , LAEN-GAY Ron , ANGEL Colin  64-70, BROOKS  Melvyn , RUSH  Bob , MURRAY   David , MURRAY Carol, VINIKER   David, COTEN  Joe, WATKINS  Willie , WATKINS  Pam , DIKE David , GRAY  Alec, GRAY  Gary, LARTER John, LARTER   John (Guest), PLASKWA   Leon, GREEN Stewart , STERN Adrian , STERN Harry , RAMOCON   Phil, LAWRENCE   Lascelles , EGE  Theo, SLATER Dick ,



An Invitation | Life After Grocers

We would like to offer anyone who attended Hackney Downs School (formerly The Grocers’ Company’s School) the opportunity of telling us your story after leaving the school on a page of this website. A page or your own on the Clove Club website.

Suggested topics:

  • Year you first attended HDS (or your class started for those who joined later)
  • Special memories from HDS
  • Current friends from HDS
  • Higher Education
  • Qualifications
  • Prestigious Awards
  • Profession
  • Country and City of Residence
  • Hobbies
  • Family
  • Social Media Pages / Profile
  • Website(s)
  • Interesting Life Events
  • Photographs – From schooldays and onwards
  • Contact Details

Please send text and images to david@firstwebsitedesign.com

(Many thanks Willie for getting the ball rolling – Willie Watkins – 1953

 Images, Videos and Stories for the Clove Club

If anyone has pictures or videos relevant to the school, please forward them to Willie Watkins or David Viniker.

We would be happy to publish them on the CloveClub Website.

Recent “Life after Hackney Downs” Pages

Gary Gray (1959 entry)

Mossbourne claims amazining success for pupils from Hackney – See what has happened on the HDS site…….

 The Clove’s Lines – Newsletter Spring 2012

New Book Announcement: – Click on the link below for details

Review of Book


(founded in 1884)

The Clove Club is the Association for Old Boys (and former members of staff) of Hackney Downs School (formerly The Grocers’ Company’s School) which existed on the corner of Hackney Downs, in Downs Park Road, London E.5. , from 1876 until its closure in 1995.

The School was founded by the City Livery Company, The Worshipful Company of Grocers in 1876 and was the only educational institution to be founded by the Company in its corporate role.

In 1884, the second Headmaster, the Reverend C.G.Gull, M.A., initiated the series of discussions and meetings which led, in 1884, to the foundation of The Clove Club. The Club’s name is taken from the Cloves, nine of which appear on the Company’s Coat of Arms, which were among the spices imported by the Company. Another significant feature of the Coat of Arms was the Camel, the prime transport animal on the spice trains of the 14th Century, which became the School Badge. These two features, variously combined with others, were used by the School for its badges, trophies and documents throughout its life and continue to be so used by the Club with the permission of the Company. The Camel, referred to by the boys as ‘Humphrey’, was held in particularly high esteem by the pupils and was their especial mascot at inter-School sporting contests.

The Club was one of the first organisations of its kind, if not the very first. In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries the Club had an orchestra which played in the West End. Over the years the Club has been honoured to count among its members many who have found fame in the Theatre, Science, Medicine and Sport but its main purpose then, as now, is to foster and prolong the friendships formed during the years of attendance at School.

There was a pause in the Club’s activities during the latter years of the Twentieth Century when it, like other, similar organisations, became regarded as passé. In early 1995 a reunion of some 80 former pupils was gathered to celebrate the 80th Birthday of a much-loved former P.E.Teacher, Mr. Leslie Mitchell, and a chance remark led to the revival of the Club. Today there are nearly 1200 members, mostly in the United Kingdom but with significant numbers present in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. There are also members in France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Mexico and Brazil. Our youngest members were at the School when it closed in 1995.

Hackney Downs School provided the educational background to numerous successful people including Nobe Prize Winner Harold Pinter