Poly History – Quintin Hogg

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Quintin Hogg : Arthur Kinnaird

Quintin Hogg was born in 1845. He was educated at Eton, where he first came into contact with football; in those days there were no common rules and the form of matches differed wildly between public schools – the most prestigious private schools in the country.
A religious man, he went on to work as a merchant while turning out for the famous Wanderers team, made up of old public school boys, after the agreement of common rules and formation of the Football Association. He helped organise the first international matches in 1870 and 1871, held between Scotland and England, and played for the Scots – reportedly taking the captain’s armband.
Hogg came from a rich family and had a good business himself, but was horrified by the poverty in London and also engaged in philanthropy. After putting in his hours in the City, three days a week he would don a ragamuffin’s outfit and work as a shoeblack to get to know the boys he saw on the streets and learn their slang-driven language.
He began by teaching them to read by candlelight near Trafalgar Square. In his own words: “With an empty beer bottle for a candlestick and a tallow candle for illumination, two crossing-sweepers as pupils, your humble servant as teacher, and a couple of Bibles as reading books, what grew into the Polytechnic was practically started.”
In 1864, with his Wanderers days still ahead of him, he founded a Ragged School for Boys in York Place, where his teaching could take a more organised form. By 1882 he has founded the Young Men’s Christian Institute, which would soon become the Regent Street Polytechnic – and much later the London Polytechnic then University of Westminster.
Hogg organised the boys he came to know, training them as shoeblacks and ordering the group’s activities in this regard while also providing educational support. There are records of him giving up a family holiday abroad to assist victims during an outbreak of smallpox and cholera, endangering his own safety in the process.
Hogg believed in the value of exercise and sport: he sought to provide it through his institution, enabling members to embrace the health-giving and character-building benefits derived from its performance.
He organised football matches for the boys in his Ragged School from the early 1870s. Once the club – for which he featured – had been established, he continued to provide facilities with his own money to safeguard its future.
Hogg claimed later in life to have played a ‘record 50 years of footer’ and was thought of as a father throughout the Polytechnic’s many clubs.
He died in 1903, asphyxiated by gas fumes from a stove in his bathroom, placing the Poly’s members in utter shock.
The Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground was opened in 1906 and the club’s various sporting teams flourished in the first half of the century. A bronze statue of Hogg was erected in his memory on Regent Street – it now stands in Portman Place. There is also an island in Guyana, South America named after him: Hogg Island.
His son and grandson – both former Conservative Members of Parliament and known more popularly as Lord Hailsham – served as presidents of the Polytechnic, but their duties were more ceremonial than hands on. His grandson, also Quintin, was Lord Chancellor to the government of Margaret Thatcher.