In 1532 a school for poor boys was founded in Horsham, Sussex, under the will of Richard Collyer, a Mercer from the City of London. Since then, the school has occupied several premises in Horsham and has existed in various guises.
The incarnation of Collyer's which will be most familiar to older members of the community will be the boys' grammar school, in Hurst Road. Younger people will know Collyer's as a mixed sixth form college, still in the same Horsham premises (though considerably expanded over the years). At present there are about 1800 students enrolled, of which 1000 attend full-time.
The College Today
Despite the long history of Collyer's it was not until 1922 that the Old Collyerians' Association was founded, originally to support the school and to promote social and sporting events among its members. Today, its role is primarily to enable former pupils to maintain and, in many cases, re-establish contact in later life. It still maintains its close links with the present-day College, and with the Mercers' Company, the City of London livery company which was pleased to number Richard Collyer among its brethren in the 16th century and which has maintained a strong interest in Collyer's legacy.
Most of the OCA's 600 or so members are old boys from the grammar school era, who meet formally twice a year at reunions and keep in touch through the OCA's newsletter and regular committee meetings. That is not to say that we discourage the younger element from the College - quite the opposite in fact. We already number many of them among the ranks, and it is expected that as others reach their thirties and forties, as they start to leave behind the stresses of advancing up the career ladder, setting up homes and raising familes, their thoughts will return to the foundation that Collyer's gave them in their adolescence. They too will want to rediscover and compare experiences with their college contemporaries.
To appeal to subsequent generations the OCA has to move forward, as Collyer's has done, and embrace new ways. That is why we have established a presence on the web, adding 21st century technology to the roots that can be traced back to the 16th century. The Internet may be a closed book to many of the older grammar school pupils, but to others, particularly those from the College era, it is the preferred method of information and communication.