Sponsored by Old Boys from Bradfield College in Berkshire and The Bradfield College Home Mission, the Bradfield Boys Club was founded in 1912, taking over an existing youth club at 7-9 Commercial Way, a pair of semi-detached houses (‘The East Surrey Villas’) with a large shed in the back gardens as its gymnasium. Open every night (except Sundays and Mondays) from 6pm, membership consisted of 200-300 ‘boys, lads and tiddlers’ with separate classes by age group. Activities included cadets, scouts, wolf cubs, gymnasium, boxing, calligraphy and cobbling classes. Summer visits to Bradfield College started in1915 and became an annual fixture; “one long delight” for the 30 Club boys selected. Up to 400 former members fought overseas in the Great War and “there was a battalion composed almost entirely of lads from the Club’s gym squad who hoisted a board in their trench with the legend ‘Play up Brads’”.
Bellowing out of the Club song ‘We are the Bradfield Boys’ Regrettably many fell including two Old Bradfieldians, whose father later bought and donated the adjoining 11 – 13 Commercial Way to the Club. These are rented out generating income whilst the Club stayed in 5 – 9 which was later acquired from the Church and over time rebuilt with donations into today’s facilities. The Club prospered and additional activities were added, including football and cricket (despite having no playing fields), chess and theatre. In 2012 we celebrated the Club’s 100th birthday. The Club now has a packed activity schedule, and we welcome around 250 young people each week.