From 1859 old boys kept in touch through The Cadet which included letters and long lists of appointments, promotions and sightings. The first call for an old boys’ club was in February 1890 when Captain Miller, offered to organise a dinner if their was sufficient interest.


That resulted in the first ever formal gathering of old boys on Thursday 18th September 1890 at the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. It was attended by 11 OCs, all the members of staff and the guest of honour, Mr Little, editor of the Journal of Commerce. It was judged a great success and all present looked forward to similar events in the future. The second dinner in 1891 drew 51 OCs but annual dinners proved difficult to sustain and they petered out in the early 1900s.


In October 1902 The Cadet carried a proposal to “form an ex-Conways Association” and to purchase a private meeting room in Liverpool where members could meet (instead of the MMSA’s meeting rooms which were open to old boys). Subscriptions would be 2/6d for apprentices and 5/- for captains. For unknown reasons the idea never get off the ground.


In October 1905 an old boy using the pseudonym ‘Don Q” bemoaned the use of the term ‘ex-Conway’ because it sounded too like ‘ex-convict’. He suggested that ‘Old Conwayians’ or ‘Old Conways’ be adopted. The Editor of The Cadet agreed and from thenceforth we became ‘Old Conways’.


On 7th August 1907 an OC writing under the pseudonym “DN” wrote from RMS Carpathia at New York proposing that an OCs’ blazer badge be introduced. The idea was taken up and the badge went on sale through the Sailors’ Home in October 1907. It was a navy blue shield outlined in red with the letters OC surmounted by the castle from Conway’s crest, both in red. The badge has evolved through at least five variants over the years to that which we currently use (version 3 has not yet been discovered). The Club tie with its red castle motif was introduced on July 18th 1938.


In October 1908 with Conway’s 50th anniversary looming, the idea of forming an old boys’ club with its own premises was resurrected but was judged too ambitious so a simple association was proposed. It would hold an annual dinner and provide an address list so that old chums could more easily be contacted. The first association dinner was held on 3rd April 1909 at the Exchange Station Hotel, Liverpool. The meal cost 6/-! 77 OCs attended - the annual dinner was firmly re-established and it remains the highlight of the Club year to this day. Dinners were held in Liverpool until 1921 when the it was held in London. Now they move around the UK.


The association was formed in June 1910 the late Captain H W Broadbent RD RNR who was at that time Captain Superintendent of HMS Conway. He was awarded the honorific “Founder”. OCs were invited to become members for an annual fee of 2/-, for which they would receive a copy of the Members’ Address List. 2/- in 1910 is about the same as £15 today so if you are still paying the original amount the Treasurer would like to have a word with you about inflation.


Th
e club’s inaugural meeting was on Tuesday 13th December 1910 at the Seaman’s Institute, Liverpool. It was formally named The Conway Club. Major Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams was elected the first President (see right) - a post he occupied for 10 years. There was a committee of 20 OCs. By 31st December there were 100 members with numbers increasing fast as news spread around the world. Numbers doubled each year for the next few years. Today we have just over 1700 members.


Then as now OCs were living all around the world so there were immediate proposals to set up branches abroad including from Australia and Nigeria. The very first club branch was actually formed in 1912 on the China Coast. India followed suit soon afterwards (probably influenced by the large number of OCs in the RIM and Bengal Pilot Service), Toronto in 1932, Nairobi (a joint Conway Worcester branch) and Singapore both in 1934 and Vancouver in 1938. Despite their early support an Australian Branch was not formed until 1954.



There was also a move to set up branches around the UK and the first one, in 1922, was a monthly Luncheon Club in London which the founders called “The Seven Seas Club”. The first UK branch proper was formed in the West Country in 1930. It met at the Vicarage, Bishopton, Bristol.


100 years later here we all are!