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Old Parkonians Association – history

The history of the Old Parkonians name can be dated, with some precision, to 7th March 1902 and the inaugural meeting of what was to become the Old Parkonians Football Club. The Cricket Club followed in 1906, with both Clubs celebrating their respective Centenaries and continuing to flourish in the 21st Century.

The name reflects that of the “old school”, the Park Higher Grade (or Park Higher Elementary) School, itself founded in 1901 in Balfour Road, Ilford, and has long-survived the re-naming of the school.

From the original School building in Christchurch Road

From the original School building in Christchurch Road

The origins of the Association are less clear. Some say that the Association itself was first mooted back in the late 1950s at the time that the Sports Clubs moved into their (then) new Clubhouse in Glenwood Gardens (long since replaced by residential properties), and needed to form a body to take formal responsibility for the building.

Others suggest a pre-war (pre-WWII) foundation as a sports & social club, incorporating the Sports Clubs and also a chess club. More research is clearly needed!

What is true is that, for the first one hundred years, most people speaking of the Old Parkonians were as likely to be referring to one or other of the Sports Clubs, or perhaps to the Clubhouse (Glenwood Gardens; Fulwell Avenue (AKA “Mossford”); Oakfield Playing Fields) as to an Association of Former Pupils of the Ilford County High School.

Today, the Association performs a dual role, as “land lord” of the excellent facilities at the Oakfield Playing Fields and parent body for the affiliated Sports Clubs, and as a social hub for former pupils of the School.

The links with the School are still strong – the Association has a representative on the Board of Governors of Ilford County High School – as are links with the local community in Barkingside and the wider London Borough of Redbridge.

Park Higher Grade School FC (A Team) 1901-2 (colourised)
Park Higher Grade School FC (A Team) 1901-2 (colourised)

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