The Old Portmuthian Club was founded in 1885, some 153 years after the founding of The Portsmouth Grammar School. For the first 37 years of its existence the Club’s President was always the School’s Headmaster. Since the 1920’s the Club has elected a succession of distinguished Presidents. Until the last few years the Club was effectively run by a succession of members of the School Common Room, including, amongst others, Roy Willis, John Thorp, Peter Barclay, Gareth Perry, Roger Wilkins and Roger Harris. By virtue of their position within the School they had access to information on current and former pupils, and were able to liaise between the Club and the School.
Until the latter part of the 20th Century the Club was run on a subscription basis and was able to fund various activities and events independently of the School. The Club had its own Clubroom within the School premises. Until that time a number of affiliated Clubs existed alongside the O.P. Club – The OP Rugby Club, the OP Cricket Club and the OP Football Club being the more prominent of these, together with the London Society and less formal Societies in other parts of the world. Through the existence of these affiliated Clubs and Societies OPs, particularly younger OPs, were able to establish and maintain contacts with the School and the OP Club. The Club published the Old Portmuthian magazine, which was widely circulated.
The Club has a long-established charitable record of donations to the School and to pupils of the School, both from bequests and donations to its main body and to its Charity. Annual bursary awards are made, as well as travel grants to enable pupils to undertake worthy causes. Other significant donations have been made over the years to enable the School to provide facilities of all sorts.
With the demise of the various affiliated Clubs and Societies, the loss of a Clubhouse and the cessation of membership subscriptions the main point of contact open to OPs became the School itself. Fortuitously, at this point the School set up its own Development Office. The OP Club now works closely with the Development Office to organises many events and reunions. Members of the Development Office, as well as members of school staff, serve on the Club Committee to the mutual benefit of all.
One of the casualties of the lack of subscription income was the Club’s ability to publish a magazine. The Development Office recently promoted the publication of a bi-annual magazine – OPUS – which, amongst other matters, contains news of Old Portmuthians of all ages and prominence, as well as all kinds of interesting and readable news relating to the School.
The Old Portmuthian Club exists to represent the interests of all its members and common- interest groups within that membership and to promote events attractive to members and their guests and others within the School family. The Club has recently resolved that a main purpose of its existence will be to provide support to the School in as many ways as are practically possible, and to liaise with the School in order to establish what support will be most welcomed. Membership of the Club is open to all former pupils of the School, as well as to current and former members of staff.