Clove Club for Old Boys (and former members of staff) of Hackney Downs School (formerly The Grocers’ Company’s School)

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


There will be a second Sunday lunch for the 59ers at Reubens Restaurant 79 Baker St, Marylebone, London W1U 6RG


Sunday 27th November


Sunday, 11th June, 2017.

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 lunch at this new venue was a great success and we have booked it again for 11th June 2017.


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

October 2016

Sadly we have just learned:-


PAUL ROBINSON who was at HDS from 1967, tragically died in a fire at his Eastbourne home in the early hours of Monday 17th October last.   Paul had been a director of Eastbourne Borough Football Club until 2014 and was well known locally for many charitable activities.    A tribute to him will appear in the next issue of The Clove’s Lines.

August 2016

Willie Watkins has been given some videos – some taken by Joe Brearley.

They have all been uploaded to the website. Please see video section.


June 2016

The Clove Club announces the loss of LEN WILKINS, a boy at the School 1944-1949 who became School Secretary for three years 1955-1958 and will be remembered by many as quiet, yet efficient, and always approachable.

Our condolences have been expressed to his family.

May 2016

GEOFFREY REIS (at School 1945-1952), has died.   He was a long time friend of Jo Gollow and two years his junior.
MAURICE PESTON, ennobled as Lord Peston, father of the well-known Robert Peston, and a Labour Economic Affairs spokesman in the House of Lords, has died.   He attended Hackney Downs School 1942-1949 and was a friend, at the School, of the late Harold Pinter.

April 2016

The Clove Club is saddened to learn of the passing of Stuart Moss (HDS 1956-62) whilst on vacation in Morocc0. Stuart was a member of the Royal Institute of Architects and had recently retired.

April 2016

Following health problems associated with age and additional to prostate cancer, Eric Albany, who was Secretary of The Clove for some years in the 50s and 60s, lost his battle yesterday.   Anyone who new Eric would recognise that his stocky frame concealed a true fighter.

Eric was a maths teacher, but alongside teaching his students he could claim to have introduced  what was known as Nuffield Maths into the curriculum.   HIs fame to us, however, is that he was one of the founders of the new cadet force (allied to the Royal Berkshire’s) whilst at King’s Lynn in 1942 (only a few short years after the Battalion had been disbanded by a government which could not have foretold the future at that point!).

In Eric’s day there was a triumvirate with Jimmy Norton as City correspondent and social secretary (!) and Gerry Burke as Treasurer with some assistance from Bill Riley I believe.   The main organiser was Eric, who enjoyed working along side his old Headmaster, T.O.Balk, and forged a relationship with V.B. Pye after the former’s retirement.   It was from Eric that John Larter and the undersigned took over the reigns starting around 1962, when Eric moved north to the Bolton area where he was able to keep his friendship with Ken Day who retired to nearby Cumbria.

Pipe smoking Eric, always of jovial disposition, will be sadly missed by his family and friends but is now at peace from his ailments, and is probably – even now – entertaining residents of his new abode with jokes and songs quoting from his wide knowledge of the music hall.    Keep going Eric!   God Grant Grace.

The funeral of Eric Albany, one of the founders of the Cadet Corps in 1942 and later a Secretary of The Clove Club, will take place at 1pm on Monday 18 April at Howe Bridge Crematorium, off Lovers Lane, Atherton, Manchester

M46 0PZ.


It will be a Humanist ceremony with Eric’s widow Ann wishing that it be kept as light-hearted as possible./   No flowers by request but donations to Cancer Research or Alzheimer’s Society.

Ken Day (1954-1959), a lifelong friend of Eric’s, has kindly agreed to represent The Clove Club at the ceremony.


March 2016

It is with sadness that we have recently learned of the passing of John Barden (1956-1961)

November 2015

The Prime Minister has approved the appointment of The Right Honourable Sir Stanley Burnton as Interception of Communications Commissioner. Read more….

August 2015

It was with great sadness that the Clove Club learned of the passing of Mr Ormond Uren – July 2015.

He taught French to the 59ers from their first year up to O Level. Comments from his former pupils –

30th July 2015

Received this news today:

LEW HARCOURT, Schoolkeeper at Hackney Downs who did so much during his reign to facilitate the School Plays of Hackney Downs, access to the School for Fives Players, Badminton Players of the Clove Club and others, sadly died on Saturday, 25th July, 2015.

Our condolences go to his family, widow Rose and their two daughters.

Clove Club Website – Making Additions

We are keen to enhance The Clove Club’s website.

You can have your own page on this website!

Let us know what you have been doing professionally and or socially.

Tell us about your memories at HDS.

We welcome pictures.

If you have your own website, we can put the details on your page.

Latest personal page updates

David Stanford – Congratulations to David who has been elected Vice President of CIMA. Thank you David for this update. August 2015

Charles Minter – Wrote an interesting song before WW1  – submitted by Willie Watkins 6th August 2015

Stanley Bloom   July 2015

Details to Willie Watkins or the website webmaster –

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 – June 7th 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

(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.

Royal Greeting

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