OBA Foundation

Mr. H. J. WAIN: One of the founder members of the Burton Grammar School Old Boys’ Association and its first Honorary Secretary.

Born in 1896, at Bretby. where his family had resided for many generations, he trained a Scholarship, from the Village School, to the Grammar School in 1907, being placed 3rd in a list of over 700 throughout the County.

In 1910 he passed the Junior Cambridge Local, with 1st Class Honours and two distinctions, and the following year he gained 1st Class Honours in the Senior Cambridge Local Examination.

On leaving School he obtained an appointment with Messrs. Worthington & Co., Ltd., but afterwards joined Messrs. Bass, Ratcliff, and Gretton, Ltd.

During the Great War he saw Active Service with the 14th (Sportsman’s Battalion), Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, serving as a scout and sniper in Fiance, and on returning to Scotland was appointed Signalling Instructor to the Highland Reserve Division, where he founded and edited an Army Magazine.

In 1921-2, he passed the Intermediate and Final Examinations of the London Association of Accountants, and is at present in the Accountants’ Dept. of Messrs. Bass & Co.

Among various other honorary appointments, he was Clerk to the Bretby Parish Council, Hon. Sec. of the Bretby War Memorial Committee, Burton Natural History and Archaeological Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, British Empire Naturalists’ Association, and was also Conservative sub-agent for the Bretby and Newton Solney areas of the Belper Parliamentary Division.

Below is his account of the OBA foundation written for the 1924 Chronicle of Members, some ten years after the organisation was first conceived:

A few years ago, many boys on leaving School expressed a regret that there was no Old Boys’ Club or Association, by which means chums at School might develop life-long friendships, although possibly compelled for various reasons to reside in different parts of the world. For those remaining in Burton, it was also felt that such a Club or Association would not only promote good fellowship among its members, but might possibly develop into a distinct social asset of the town, and afford opportunities of developing individual characteristics, sporting or social or intellectual in a favourable atmosphere.

In July, 1914, C. B. Smedley, F. C. Jefferson and myself consulted the Headmaster and gained his whole-hearted approval to such a scheme, but all our plans were upset by the outbreak of the Great War.

On demobilization, Smedley with characteristic energy, immediately undertook the task single handed, and provisionally arranged an Inaugural Dinner. But the time was hardly opportune – the war had only just ended and people had not yet had time to settle down to their pre-war occupations, indeed many of us had not yet returned to civil life. Sufficient support not being forthcoming, the Dinner was cancelled, and within a few weeks to everyone’s great regret, Smedley suddenly collapsed and died from the effects of his military service.

But matters had now reached such a state that the Headmaster determined the scheme should be carried through, and at his invitation an informal meeting of a few Old Boys was held on November 8th, 1920. A small Sub-Committee with Mr. Frank Evershed as Chairman was formed to draft the necessary rules and a further meeting of Old Boys was held at the School on December 8th, 1920, when a temporary Committee and Officers were appointed. The date for the first General Meeting was fixed for February 19th, 1921, and an afternoon Football Match with a team selected from the Burton Rugby Club was arranged to precede a Dinner in the Town Hall in the evening. All Old Boys whose addresses could be obtained were circularized and copies of the proposed rules were posted to them. Amid scenes of great enthusiasm, the Rules were approved and the Officers and temporary Committee were confirmed in their appointments. It was peculiarly appropriate that the Chief Magistrate of the town at that time should be an Old Boy, and the Association deemed it an honour to elect as its first President, the Mayor of Burton-on-Trent, Councillor A. H. Yeomans, J.P.

From that date, the membership of the Association has steadily increased. From 207 members in 1921 the number has risen to 345 at the present time, and included in these figures are many Old Boys resident in such widely separated parts of the world as British Columbia, Wisconsin, U.S.A., New Zealand, Australia, Malay Straits, Burmah, India, Mesopotamia and South Africa.

Reports and Balance Sheets detailing the various activities and financial position of the Association from the date of its inauguration will be found overleaf, and it is hoped all Old Boys will co-operate in extending the membership, and maintaining the traditions of the old School.



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