The Hawks' Club is a members-only social club for sportsmen at the University of Cambridge. It was founded in 1872.
Application for membership is open to any man who is either a member of any college at the University of Cambridge
or who has been admitted ad eundem
to the University. He must have spent at least one term in residence, and must have earned a Full Blue
, Half Blue
or Second Team Colours
(in a full blue sport) by representing the University against Oxford
in a Varsity match
Prospective members are elected in the style of a traditional English gentlemen's club
. Two "no
" votes will reject an applicant, and he may not be proposed again at a later date.
Members are admitted for life. The number of Hawks-in-residence at the University is limited to 230, not including MAs; there are several thousand members worldwide.
Occasionally, individuals are admitted as an Honorary Hawk
without fulfilling the above criteria (for example HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
, who did not study at Cambridge).
Dining Rights Club
Since 1993 individuals have also been elected to the Hawks Dining Rights Club
. Members may use the clubhouse but do not become Hawks. Neither the Cambridge-only nor the men-only restrictions apply in this case, and the majority of members of this type are local business people and professionals. There are slightly fewer dining rights members than Hawks-in-residence, and the number peaked at 160 in 1998.
The Club colours are maroon and gold; members may wear the Club tie. Honorary members and Dining rights members wear a slightly different tie.
The committee consists of a President, Hon. Secretary and eight ordinary members, and is elected each academic year by the Hawks-in-residence.
The Hawks' Club was formed in 1872 when a proposal to allow members of other colleges into the St John's College Eagles
club was rejected. This led to the Hawks' being set up as an equivalent club university-wide. In its early history it was primarily a cricket club but by the turn of the century other sports were well-represented.
As is common with student-run organisations, records are patchy in places and old lists of presidents and members have long been lost. The record is better for the period 1889-1963, as during this time a picture of each year's president was added to a display in the clubhouse, and these have survived to the present day. During the 1950s a number of subsequently notable sportsmen were presidents, and several are listed below.
It is not known whether a Blue was originally a prerequisite for membership; some early presidents do not appear to have competed against Oxford in any sport. However, the personal 'suitability' of candidates for membership does not appear to have changed since the Club was founded. The Club website states that "Candidates have to be clubbable" (i.e. "clubbable" in the sense of a traditional gentlemen's club) and "the Hawks' Club remains unashamedly elite", claiming to include only "the top one per cent" of University sportsmen.
The clubhouse was originally in Trinity Street, but by the 1890s it had moved to a St John's College property in All Saints' Passage. It remained there until 1966 when financial troubles meant the property had to be sold, despite surviving through both world wars, during which the Club was closed. After this it briefly occupied the same premises as the Pitt Club, until conflicts of interest regarding the differing objectives of the two clubs made this no longer possible.
There was no clubhouse until 1986, when a four-storey building at 18 Portugal Place became available. This property was bought by a group of members, who restored it from its previous existence as a dilapidated hotel staff hostel. The restored clubhouse was opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in October 1992. It consists of a bar, members' lounge, dining room space for some 25-30 people, and the Club steward's flat on the top floor.
Hawks' Charitable Trust
The Club actively supports students who have financial difficulties keeping up their sport. Each year the Club awards a number of bursaries to members of the University under the auspices of the Hawks' Charitable Trust
. These awards are equally available to both men and women, and total several thousand pounds each year.
The Club sponsors Rumboogie
, an event each Wednesday evening at the Cambridge nightclub Ballare
(more commonly known as Cindy's
to the student population). At the end of each Michaelmas term it hosts a dinner in London for its members, usually at one of the large hotels. It also hosts an event each June during May Week
in the style of a Cambridge May Ball
In 2004 two Club awards were introduced: Hawk of the year
and Team of the year
The Hawk magazine
An old boys magazine called The Hawk
is published aperiodically. The most recent issue is No. 9, published in October 2005. The magazine includes, among other things, news of current University teams and results, obituaries of notable members, and Club notices.
Members have various reciprocal rights with a number of similar clubs around the world.
- Melbourne Savage Club, Melbourne, Australia
- University Club of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
- Oxford and Cambridge Club, London, UK
- Cardiff and County Club, Cardiff, UK
- City University Club, London, UK
- Leander Club, Henley-on-Thames, UK
- Nottingham Club, Nottingham, UK
- London, UK
- Vincent's Club, Oxford, UK
- Durban Club, Durban, South Africa
- Waterkloof, South Africa
- Rand Club, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Embassy Club, Iowa, USA
- The Graduate Club, New Haven, USA
- The Princeton Club, New York, USA
- University Club of Rochester, New York, USA
- The B.R.B.S Gentlemans Club, Leeds, UK
- The Hawk, editors Kolbert, C. and Hyde, A., No. 9 (October 2005), published by The Hawks Club.
- Rules of the Hawks' Club (May 2003)