Bancroft’s Youth Club

Bancroft’s Youth Club Scholarship Fund
The Bancroft’s Youth Club Scholarship Fund was the final manifestation of a charity that began life in 1911 as Bancroft’s School Mission.

The origins of the Mission sprang from a desire amongst Old Bancroftians of the time to help in the poorer areas of the East End of London, where the original Bancroft’s School had been located. The work was directed towards a Boy’s Club supported by donations and active assistance from the School. Reports of these activities were published regularly each term in the editions of the ‘Bancroftian’. This generosity on the part of the school culminated in sufficient funds being raised to enable the charity to purchase land and to build a custom designed clubhouse.

In 1939 the new Club House in Prince Regents Lane, West Ham was opened. This event and the lead-up to it were fully reported with photographs, in the Bancroftian of July 1939 and a copy of the order of service and dignitaries attending are held in the School archive.

Amazingly, the building survived more or less intact through the Second World War and in the late 1940s and 1950’s the flourished.

In the 1960’s Bancroft’s Youth Club, as it had now become, continued to prosper with help not only from the School but also from the Local Authority, which funded a full time warden.

Gradually, however, the Local Authority changed its attitude towards youth clubs that were under its direct control. The Local Authority established another club in a nearby school and withdrew its funding. Without this funding the charity was no longer able to afford to employ the vital services of a warden. Subsequently the whole area surrounding the club was the subject of a comprehensive redevelopment scheme. The clubhouse was eventually encircled by demolition sites and it became impossible to continue the Club.

The trustees decided to sell the premises and after considerable effort this was achieved in 1982.

Being a Registered Charity the trustees were required by law to obtain the consent of the Charity Commissioners both to the sale of the premises and to the application of the proceeds of the sale. The Charity Commissioners insisted that the charity continued the intentions of the founders of the original Mission, and that the money should be applied towards a purpose that continued to benefit the youth of the Newham area.

As most of the money had been provided in the first instance by Bancroftians the Trustees were very keen that the link with Bancroft’s be maintained, and that the funds should not simply be passed over to the Local Authority for another youth charity in the area having no particular connection with the School.

After submitting several proposals, and following protracted negotiations, the consent of the Charity Commissioners was obtained in 1984 for the proposal that the funds should be used to create a Scholarship Fund to finance sixth-form scholarships at the School for children from the Newham area.. This scheme, which was administered by the School, and which successive Head Masters have assured the Trustees was very worthwhile, has enabled a number of Newham children to have a sixth-form education that might not otherwise have been available to them.

In the period 1985 – 1999 ten scholarships were awarded. In the years leading up to 2004 there was a sharp fall in the numbers of suitable applicants. School fees rose almost fourfold in20 years and the resources of the fund dwindled. The time had come to think of alternative uses for the monies left in the fund.

The Trustees decided to seek permission to combine this trust with the OBA Sixth Form Scholarship Trust, which has similar objectives and has a remit wide enough to include Newham applicants. A merger was successfully completed with the approval of the Charity Commissioners.