Hollington Club for Young People

120 years ago the then Master of Dulwich College, Arthur Herman Gilkes, established a club for 200 boys in Camberwell, as part of the Dulwich College Mission. There boys could box, do gymnastics, play cricket and football and swim. Later the Mission took over the Hollington Club so named because its original premises were in a donkey shed in Hollington Street, Camberwell. Annual camps were held at Birling Gap in Sussex over a period of more than 50 years and holidays spent on a houseboat in Rye harbour, which was strung with hammocks. For many of the Camberwell lads, this was their first sight of the sea. The Scout movement was also involved and a mission troop was set up in 1909. Tragically, 8 mission scouts, including David Beckham’s great uncle, died in a tragic boating accident in 1912 and David’s grandfather was saved.

Many residents will remember the Hollington Club sports ground with its entrance in Burbage Road where, until a few years ago, the Old Hollingtonians football team were based and achieved some success before their amalgamation with another team and the ground handed back to the Dulwich Estate.

The Club is now located in Comber Grove, Camberwell, in premises which are still owned by the Dulwich College Mission Trust and close ties with the school have been re established. The Club continues to serve young people, both girls and boys, in this deprived area of South London. They have a thriving youth club which meets five nights a week, with a teen choir being the current popular activity. During the holidays they go on outings to adventure parks and the seaside; yes, there are still children in South London who have never seen the sea.

To celebrate the milestone of 120 years, the Club has launched an appeal for £250,000 to refurbish the very run down buildings and equipment, with projects such as a computer/music room, a kitchen for teaching cookery and healthy eating and refurbishment of the boxing gym and sports hall. Volunteers are also needed to help with the administration of the club to allow the excellent staff to focus on serving the young people.

See the web site www.hollingtonyouthcentre.org.uk

Chris Vernon, Chairman Hollington Club for Young People