Tucked away ‘underneath the arches’ of the old building is the school’s Archive Centre. It was created early this century and brings together, from cupboards and store-rooms throughout the school, 125 years of its history.
Here the evidence of the school’s rich heritage – photographs, school lists, log books, concert, play and speech day programmes – is carefully catalogued and stored. Perhaps the most complete record is just that – The Record – the school’s annual magazine, the earliest surviving edition of which goes back to 1910.
Among the more remarkable items in the collection is ciné film recording the school’s evacuation to Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Film has also survived of its use, from 1949 to 1975, of Longdon Hall, Staffordshire for 'One Term Away' which offered a boarding experience away from home for all Aston boys.
But not all the school’s past is hidden from view. Honours boards, and portraits of Aston’s seven former headmasters, look down on today’s generation whilst they study in the library, providing them with the incentive to emulate their distinguished predecessors. Some of Aston’s eleven knights are listed here, along with its countless university graduates, and legions of professors. Triumphs in the worlds of industry and the arts mingle with Royal honours. Photographs of rugby, cricket, swimming and athletics teams can be seen around the school, as can those of former members of staff. Returning old boys usually make a bee line for the photographs in the canteen which show the whole school biennially since 1919. In recent times these have been taken less frequently, but are now in colour.
In the archive centre we are constantly striving to improve our coverage of the school’s many and varied activities, both past and present. We are grateful to old boys and former members of staff for their help in filling some of the gaps which exist in past years. Our main source for the present is Aston’s enthusiastic staff, who enable students to take part in a steady stream of pursuits beyond the classroom. The archives are open, by arrangement, to old boys who may wish to use them for research purposes.
A number of archives are duplicated beyond the requirements of the centre. The Headmaster has given permission for these to be sold in aid of school funds.