I met a few member of the Eton Manor Boys’ Club when I joined Wiggy Wilson’s walk in May 2008. It was clear that friendships were long-standing and strong. Here is a bit of background about the Eton Manor Boys’ Club.
The Eton Manor Boys’ Club was established in Hackney Wick in the
early 20th century as a sports and social club. It was managed and
paid for by a group of old Etonians. The rules stated that boys had
to join between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. However, once
members, the commitment could last forever.
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)
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. The East End
was so deprived at that time so having these opportunities
available was extremely important.
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.
The Eton Manor Boys’ Club officially closed in 1967 but many members are still in contact with one another today.