Arsenal 125 celebrations at House of Commons reveals previously unknown historic material


Arsenal’s 125th anniversary celebrations continued in the Jubilee Committee Room at the House of Commons in London on Thursday 12th January in a meeting hosted by Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, whose constituency includes the Emirates Stadium, and who is  an Arsenal supporter.

Guest of honour was Philippa Dawson, the great great grand daughter of Jack Humble, the founding father of Arsenal FC – and to the surprise and delight of everyone present Philippa revealed the existence of a previously unknown cache of historic material concerning the life of Jack Humble, and of Arsenal.

Jack Humble was one of the men who founded Arsenal at the Dial Square Cricket Club in 1886.   He was also a player for the club, and from the early days a member of the committee that ran the club.

In 1891 he was part of the committee that proposed the historic motion that Royal Arsenal FC should become a professional club and two years later was elected the first ever chairman of Woolwich Arsenal FC as Arsenal entered the Football League.

In 1906 after 20 years service to the club as player, administrator and director Jack retired from his position, but four years later when the club was taken over by Henry Norris, Jack was the only one of the early directors that Norris sought out and brought back to the club.

Jack was immediately installed as a director once again, and in 1913 he effectively ran the club while Norris travelled across London seeking a new ground for Arsenal to play at.

Jack Humble continued as a director once Arsenal had moved to Highbury.  In the first world war he served his country using his expertise gained from his years working at the Royal Arsenal factories, before returning once again as a director in 1919 with Arsenal back in the First Division.

He was also still on the board with Norris (by then Lt Col Sir Henry Norris) when the historic invitation was put out for Herbert Chapman to take over as manager, and Jack continued to serve on the board until 1927, living to see Arsenal’s first triumph, in the FA Cup.

As such Jack Humble was the only man who was directly and centrally involved with Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal, The Arsenal and Arsenal FC – from the very foundation to Herbert Chapman.

In her speech Philippa Dawson revealed that after Jack’s death members of the family had moved to America and had taken with them many of Jack’s mementos and papers, and it is believed that they are still extant, in the United States.

This is obviously extremely exciting for all Arsenal historians and we are all hoping that the detail of these documents may be revealed for the first time in the near future.

The Celebration at the House of Commons was part of the activity of the AISA Arsenal History Society, which has been active over the past three years in unearthing the detail about Arsenal’s past.  At the launch copies of the cover of the Society’s next book, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that made history” were on show, and one of the recent discoveries about the club’s early days (the battle with Royal Ordinance Factories FC) was revealed.  The hope was expressed that through the offices of Mr Corbyn the meeting might become an annual event.

There was also general agreement that the next big commemoration for the club should be September 2013 with the 100th anniversary of the move of the club to Highbury, and the hope was expressed that the club and the AISA Arsenal History Society will work together to make this a major event in the club’s calendar.


This blog is dedicated to discussing and debating all issues from Arsenal’s past.  The current series is…

The 10 iconic moments that defined Arsenal’s history

Part 1: Opening the club to all comers

Part 2: The Great Conspiracy – when they tried to shut Arsenal down

Part 3: Death and rebirth in 1910

Part 4: 100 years since moving to Highbury – our next anniversary and our fourth iconic moment

There is a full index of past series and recent news items on


3 Replies to “Arsenal 125 celebrations at House of Commons reveals previously unknown historic material”

  1. I can imagine that Andy, Mark and Tony are a bit excited about the possibility to study documents from Jack Humble himself.

    Fingers crossed that the papers still are there…

    A big congratulations to all who have and are still working on this. and I think it was very fitting to have this done in such an historic place.

    And er…what’s next? I mean after this year the house of commons, next year an invitation to drink a cup of tea with the Queen? 😉

  2. Guys,
    I was lucky enough to attend the evening at the House of Commons and meet all those in the main photo.
    It was a brilliant evening and the speeches and information were first class.
    Even better than that was the friendliness and openness of all the AISA committee.
    Jermy Corbyn MP gave us a lot of his time and the tour of the HofC was both informative and amusing.
    Well done to all of those who organised the evening and especially the guys doing the digging into The Arsenal at Plumstead.
    Many thanks,
    Barry Dixey

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