BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION
The formation of the Association
The formation of the Association can be traced back to 1919 when a group of March Grammar School Old Boys organised a cricket match against the school and masters in order to raise funds to purchase a memorial in memory of their school chums who died in the first world war. Each year since then the ‘Old Boys’ and their descendants have held a re-union dinner.
The article below is taken from the 'Mercian' magazine 1919. The ‘Mercian’ magazine was produced from 1918 until the end of the school in 1969 and for much of that time it was published termly but from World War II it was a twice yearly production and finally an annual one. From its inception the ‘Mercian’ was both a school and an Old Boys magazine and for most of the inter- war years the Old Boys’ section was as extensive as the school’s’. It was clearly in the early 1920s that the Old Boys Association became a force to be reckoned with and it is especially interesting to read of the annual dinner held at the ‘Griffin’ and the numerous eulogies to former schooldays which the occasions produced. The calibre of guest speakers was very high too, including Vice-Chancellors of Cambridge University, Chief Education Officers, M.P.s and among individuals, Lord Burghley the Olympic Sprinter, and Lord Burnham who had devised the famous teacher’s pay scales in the early 1920s.
Extract from the Mercian 1919 - ‘We realised our great a gap this awful war has left’ - R J Caslake – Secretary of the Association
‘It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good’. The truth of this old provide is again revealed in the birth of this Association, for it has required the Great War with its terrible consequence to make this Association un fait accompli. For a great many years, we have thought and talked about the desirability of forming an Old Boy’s Society and of having a periodical re-union but we never ‘got a move on’ until we realized how great a gap this awful war has left in the ranks of the old boys. We then woke up to the need of doing something to perpetuate the memory of those who worked and played with us during the happiest days of our lives. This seemed to us an opportune moment for bringing into being an association of old boys and as a body expressing our admiration of the spirit of devotion and courage displayed by the large number of old boys who fought and suffered and died for the glory of our country and Empire and for the preservation of peace, justice and liberty throughout the world.
Our thanks are due to the Rev J T Ford and the present Headmaster, who were mainly responsible for calling together the first meeting of old boys last April to the consider the question of the formation of our Association and the desirability of raising a War Memorial Fund. Though not well attended it was an enthusiastic gathering, and showed that there was a keen desire to have an Association to do something to commemorate the deeds of our gallant boys.
History of the Neale-Wade Academy
The academy can trace its history back to 1696 when William Neale left an estate, the income of which was to help educate 8 poor boys. In 1717, Henry Wade left £20 per annum to pay for a schoolmaster to teach 20 poor children of the Parish. These two bequests were the origin of what eventually became March Grammar School. School premises were built on Station Road in 1876 and the school stayed there until a new site was opened on Wimblington Road in 1964. The Old Boys and Masters of the school who gave their lives during the two World Wars are commemorated on plaques which are displayed in the current college's main hall.
1696 William Neale’s bequest founding a school to teach ‘English and Latin tongues’.
1713 Henry Wade’s bequest of £20 for a schoolmaster.
1717 Amalgamation of Neale and Wade’s bequests
1826 Consolidation of four charities, including Neale’s and Wade’s to allow for a reform of March education.
1827 Guildhall built to house the school which became a National School.
1851 Further legal consolidation of charities to allow for a separate Grammar school to be opened.
1871 March Charity Foundation formed with approx. 213 of income going to the Grammar school.
1876 New Grammar school built in Station Road.
1902 New Isle of Ely County Council began to part fund the school.
1904 March Educational Foundation formed with all income to the school.
1909 March High school opened in County Road buildings.
1910 Robingoodfellows Lane building added to the Grammar school site.
1919 Cricket match between March Grammar School and Old Boys to raise funds for memorial and formation of MGS Old Boys Association
1920 First Annual Dinner and re-union Thursday 8 January 1920 at the Griffin Hotel March
1924 Arnold Heathcote appointed as Headmaster.
1930 Gymnasium and Laboratory added to Robingoodfellows Lane building.
1930 Decision taken to end boarding.
1940-3 Premises shared with Tottenham Grammar school.
1943 First accommodation on Gordon Avenue site ready.
1945 Fee paying ended with all places obtained through LEA 11-plus exam.
1950 Retirement of Arnold Heathcote as Headmaster. Cedric Potter succeeded.
1956 Hedley Hooper retired after 40 years as Deputy Head.
1964 School moved to a new site at Eastwood on Wimblington Road
1968 The first girl’s at the school.
1969 Grammar school formally ended. School merged with High school to become the Neale-Wade school, a selective 13-18 institution.
1974 Cedric Potter retired.
1983 School became the Neale-Wade Community College and merger of all secondary education in March into one school.
1986 Extensive new buildings allowed the comprehensive school to operate on one site.
1994 Further new buildings opened.
2011 Jason Wing appointed new Principal.
2012 Neale Wade Community College re-built.
2019 The Association v MCC Centenary Cricket Match - Friday 28th June 2019