inspiring excellence, fulfilling potential
A Brief History of the Eton Manor Boys' Club

Villiers Park Educational Trust has its roots in East London. It started life as The Manor Charitable Trust, which was set up to fund the Eton Manor Boys’ Club (EMBC), a sports and social club established in Hackney Wick in the early years of the 20th century. EMBC was established, managed and paid for by a philanthropically-minded group of Old Etonians: Arthur Villiers, Gerald Wellesley, Alfred Wagg and Sir Edward Cadogan.

Please use the links below to read more information about the founding of the Eton Manor Boys' Club

Michelle Johansen's lecture "The Early Years of the Eton Manor Boys' Clubs"

The list of donors who contributed to the building of the clubhouse in Riseholme Street

June 1913 edition of Chin-Wag (the Club's monthly magazine)

The Eton Manor Boys’ Club (EMBC) officially closed in 1967 but many members are still in contact with one another today. All acknowledge the profound impact EMBC had on their lives. The rules stated that boys had to join between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. However, once admitted as members, the commitment might last a lifetime: an affiliated Eton Manor ‘Old Boys’ club catered for the over-eighteens. For a nominal weekly subscription, boys and ‘Old Boys’ had free access to everything the EMBC had to offer both in the purpose-built clubhouse in Riseholme Street, Hackney and on the clubs’ own sports ground, the Wilderness (a vast, sporting nirvana developed on 30 acres of waste ground in Leyton in the 1920s). By an amazing coincidence, the Wilderness sports ground, which contributed much to the sporting heritage of east London, now forms part of the Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics and under the legacy plans will provide sports facilities for the local community for many years to come.

The Wilderness(aerial shot)

The Clubhouse (exterior)

The Clubhouse - Gymnasium

Inside The Clubhouse - Billiards Tables

On the fringes of London’s notoriously deprived East End, EMBC members were able to try out all kinds of sports and leisure activities. In comfortable surroundings, they enjoyed boxing, amateur dramatics, debating, drawing, first-aid, squash, tennis, football, cricket, rugby, billiards, table-tennis, photography, badminton, athletics and rifle-shooting

Shooting Practice

Long Jump

Capablanca visits the club

The EMBC Trustees used their wealth and connections to good effect: they brought top sportsmen over to East London to help out or hold exhibitions at the Club (Sir Alf Ramsey and Douglas Jardine assisted with the football and cricket teams respectively). To the left we see World Chess Champion Capablanca at the clubhouse in 1928 playing simultaneous games of chess against the boys.

Because of the first rate facilities and the excellent instructors, Eton Manor had gained a reputation as an elite boys’ sporting club by the mid-20th century. However, the club was not primarily about sporting excellence. Membership of EMBC gave boys from ordinary backgrounds the chance to enjoy a wide variety of sports and games in a safe, spacious and congenial environment. Some members were helped out with guidance or advice to assist them in their careers. Others were given introductions in the City to the same purpose (both Arthur Villiers and Alfred Wagg were bankers). A few members were offered interest-free loans to start businesses or supplied with low-rent accommodation to enable them to save money to buy their own homes. But most important of all, members were provided with an Eton Manor ‘family’: the friendships they struck up as boys during happy evenings at the clubhouse, at the Club Summer Camp or over sunny week-end afternoons on the Wilderness often lasted for a lifetime.

A few of the lads by the piano Senior Boys XI - Federation Cup Winners 1954-55

You can hear some of the Eton Manor Boys' Club songs and see a small selection of the archive photos on the "Up The Manor!" video clip on MySpace.

Bishopsgate Institute logo Villiers Park Educational Trust has deposited all its archive materials relating to the Eton Manor Boys' Club at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. These materials have been added to by many generous deposits by Eton Manor Old Boys and are publicly accessible to everyone during the opening hours of the Bishopsgate Library. Please see their website for more information or tel. 020 7392 9270.