The OSA

The Association

At Easter 1921 the Old Boys' Club was formed by the then Headmaster, WF Bushell, for the former pupils of Solihull School|.  On 4th March 1921 Dr AV Bernays, then Chairman of the School Governors, took office as the first President.  He was the only President who was not an Old Silhillian until John Loynton, a former teacher at the School, took up office in 2015.  Dr Bernays was also a founder of the surgery now to be found in Grove Road.  That surgery still provides the School Doctor.

OSA Dinner 1925

The Old Silhillians' Dinner held in 1925 in the Refectory in School House.  WF Bushell is the moustached gentleman sitting cross-legged just right of centre of the photograph.

In 1948 the Club changed its name to The Old Silhillians' Association and at the AGM held on 9th December 1950 the Association adopted a modern set of Rules.  Within these the Objects were -

The objects of the Association are to aid the School in every way possible, to further the preservation of friendships made between the Members when at School, and to create and foster relationships among all Old Boys of the School and to encourage a close relationship between Old Boys and the School.

These remain the core objectives of the Association which, since 1975, has 'Old Girls' as well!   In 1950 the subscriptions were set at seven shillings and sixpence (just under 38p) and for 3 years after leaving school just 5/- (25p).  Life Membership was available at a cost of £7 7s 0d (£7.35p)

In his President's letter in the 1965 Silhillian| magazine Claude Coton| wrote “When surrendering the lease [of Dingle Lane] to the governors a part condition of the deal was a Life Membership Scheme would be implemented – deductable at school - subject to the governors’ approval.  I would have liked this scheme to have been made compulsory, and so safeguard this Association for posterity, but this will not be so, and parents will have the chance to ‘opt’ out if they wish.”  From the mid-70s to the mid-90s very few Life Membership subscriptions were collected and membership dwindled.   In 2003 this situation was rectified and the Association marketed itself more vigourously to both VIth form pupils and parents.   As a result many school leavers joined the Association and membership uptake increased.   In 2004 with the support of the Headmaster, John Claughton|, life subscriptions were once again collected through the School, but this time on an opt in basis.   The Association continued to lobby for all leavers to automatically be enrolled as members of the OSA and in 2012 the Chairman of Governors, Mark Hopton (OS) and Headmaster, David Lloyd| approved a process whereby all leavers who complete their GCSEs at the School and/or A Levels at the School are automatically enrolled as life members of the Association.   47 years after Claude's President's letter his wish had finally come true.

OSA subscriptions are used solely for supporting the objectives outlined above.   The activities and maintenance of the Memorial Clubhouse and Ground at Copt Heath are funded entirely by rents payable by the sports sections, bar and catering revenue and outside pitch and room hire.

The 1950 Rules also allowed for a Scholarships to be awarded -

The General Committee shall have the power to award a Scholarship tenable for five years at regular intervals and if possible every other year to a Silhillian not in receipt of assistance from any other body.   Holders of the Scholarship shall, if possible, be sons or relatives of Old Silhiilians.  Selection is to be on the grounds of merit and general suitability and is to be at the discretion of the Headmaster.

The Association has maintained scholarships since then and today a charitable trust, The OSA Trust|, has been set up with the specific remit of awarding scholarships and grants to pupils of the school.  The OSA currently fund half scholarships to two VIth Formers each year (equivalent to two full scholarships per annum).   The recipients of scholarships do not have to be related to an Old Silhillian.

The Clubhouse

Until 1953 the Old Silhillians played their sport at Broomfields, an area now known as Bushell fields part occupied by the Astroturf pitch, which was grazing land for Mr Price's horses. The changing rooms were in Mill Lane with a tin bath and cold water until the outbreak of war. After the war they had the great fortune to obtain the wartime decontamination centre at Solihull Hospital for changing with an unlimited supply of hot water.

In September 1953 they moved to new facilities at Dingle Lane on grounds that were leased from the School.

Dingle Lane 1954

In late 1964 the OSA surrendered their lease at Dingle Lane for £47,000, being part of the monies the School Governors received as owners for building. With that money the OSA purchased the freehold of 18 acres of finest farmland in Barston Lane, Copt Heath for a new clubhouse and sports ground. The work was completed and The Memorial Clubhouse and Ground was opened in November 1966.

Barston Lane 1

Barston Lane 2 Two squash courts were added in 1967.  One of the biggest causes for concern was the announcement of the proposed building of the M42 Motorway in the early seventies.  The final route was to be down Barston Lane and by 1976 the M42 was in place and the alterations to the Copt Heath grounds were largely complete - a new entrance off the Warwick Road, a new steward's house to replace the one knocked down to make way for the motorway, a new hockey pitch (now reserved for junior football) and a much enlarged car park.

On 15th June 1980 the Instone Room (an extension to the social and catering areas) was opened by 6 year old Imogen Slaughter, daughter of the then Headmaster, Giles Slaughter|.   Over the years the further facilities have been added, from a permanent barbecue area to a deck by the clubhouse entrance.  The latest achievment was the addition of a £450,000 full-size synthetic grass sports facility opened on 8th November 2009.  Thanks for that are largely due to the driving force behind the project - Management Committee Chairman Mike Waters| (grandson of the 1954 President, Terence Waters|, and son of the very much respected Old Silhillian, James Waters).

Astro Pitch

In 2012 the Association was granted planning permission to improve and enlarge the changing facilities and thoroughly modernise the Clubhouse. That permission was sought with a view to leasing the facility to a company formed by the sports sections that play at Copt Heath once the work had been carried out.  This would allow the OSA to relieve itself of the burden of managing a facility that was largely enjoyed by users who were not former pupils of the School.   Without these management responsibilities the OSA would be able to focus all of its time on alumni matters.

In order to finance the project planning consent to build a care home on the site of the former steward's house was sought and eventually granted.  Work on the £1.8M redevelopment was done in two pahses.   The completion of phase 1, the refurbishment of the existing bars, was in November 2014 and phase 2, the two new bars and extensive changing facilities, in February 2015.  Great thanks are due to Andrew Clutterbuck, John Griffin and Rupert Young who put much time and effort into this project.

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