Less than ten years after the founding of Prince Alfred College, a group of men with the vision of an organisation which would support the school and maintain links between old scholars, established the Prince Alfred Old Collegians Association.
The first meeting of the Association was held on Thursday, 26 September 1878 and 65 old scholars attended. The school’s second headmaster, J.A. Hartley, accepted the position of inaugural president and was supported by E.B. Colton (secretary) and J.W. Mackman (treasurer). This was the start of the tradition of old scholars giving their time and expertise in the management of their Association, which continues to this day.
Early on the Association showed its support for Prince Alfred College through the organization of scholarships to enable students to attend the school, prizes were endowed and funding provided to help establish a boat club. Social functions at the school were also convened as a way of keeping old scholars together. By the mid 1890′s the Association had over 300 members, increasing to 1100 members by 1909.
Though the First World War took its toll on old scholars of the School it also provided some of the most significant and poignant events in the history of the Association. Farewells for old scholars off to fight were held, often jointly with Saint Peter’s College, in the Adelaide Town Hall, and were attended by the Governor of South Australia, respective headmasters, Association committees and old scholars. In France a joint dinner with Saint Peter’s College Old Scholars was held at Amiens and another on the troop ship Ballarat, while in Cairo twenty five old scholars held an old scholars week reunion.
In Adelaide since the early days of the Association lunches and dinners have been strongly supported and today’s annual dinner enjoyed by over 500 old scholars has its roots in these functions. Branches of the Association spread through out Australia and annual dinners in mainland capitals, regional centers of South Australia, London, Hong Kong and other cities around the world from time to time, have kept old scholars in touch with one another and their school. Chronicles of the day provide insightful accounts of the format of these functions and those present.
Critical to the success of the Association has been the range of sporting and social activities offered. Old scholars have enjoyed the opportunity to represent their old school in the sports of cricket, tennis, hockey, squash, basketball, badminton, Australian rules football and soccer. During the year, but primarily in “Old Scholar’s Week”, contests with St Peter’s are held in these sports along with bridge, chess and snooker. The Prince Alfred Old Collegians Lodge is the only school affiliated Masonic Lodge in South Australia.
Widely regarded as one of the most successful organizations of its type in the southern hemisphere, the Prince Alfred Old Collegians Association is the envy of many other schools. In meeting its objectives the Association has not only ensured its own strength but that of the School it supports.