In the beginning....
The Solus Club was founded on Friday 8th March 1929 at the Café Royal, London.
The name was originally suggested by one of the founders and it remains something of a mystery as to why it was chosen or what it means.
However, its central tenet, that it should be an unpretentious place to meet - and for its members to get to know and enjoy each other's company - remains as true today as it ever was.
A glimpse into Solus Club history
The history of the Solus Club is held in 12 handsomely bound leather volumes kept at the History of Advertising Trust.
Opening these pages is to delve back into the very heart of British advertising, but it is the personalities of the Club members and its speakers that really shine through.
Members, like the colourful AT Chenhalls, the Hon. Auditor in the 1930s, who was mistaken in Lisbon for Winston Churchill - with the result that his plane to the UK was shot down over the Bay of Biscay by a squadron of German fighters…
Or Maurice Buckmaster – the spymaster who ran the British SOE sabotage network in occupied France during WW2 and who was President of the Club in 1962. (Our own James Bond - or rather, James Bond's boss, M.)
Nowadays, our members are far more likely to be heading major advertising agencies, media operations or client companies, but - in their own way - they are just as impressive.
And if the Solus Club is home to the advertising industry’s grandees, it has also provided a remarkable after-dinner platform for a host of star guests.
In the past, we have entertained generals, royalty (the Dukes of Kent and Gloucester), four prime ministers (Callaghan, Wilson, Heath and Major); Sir Keith Murdoch (Rupert’s father), Sir Philip Green and Sir Stuart Rose from the higher echelons of business, and Sir David Frost, Lord Attenborough and Al Murray from the world of entertainment. Likewise, the Bishop of London has been our guest - while Terry Waite addressed the Club only weeks before his abduction and disappearance for four years in Beirut.
During its early years, the Solus Club had many venues for its meetings – from the Café Royal, through Kettners, the Ivy, and the Hungaria - to the Hyde Park Hotel in 1950.
Then in 1988, we moved to the Dorchester, which - allowing for a brief spell away during some refurbishment - has been our home ever since..
The Club's structure
The original membership of the Solus Club was fixed at 33 men. There was no President, and members drew lots to determine who would act as Chairman of the meetings during the year.
By 1933, however, this loose structure was beginning to evolve into the present format of President, Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer.
The Officers have a Committee to assist in running operations, but otherwise, its rules are few and far between.
Solus Club membership
Since it was first set-up, membership of the Solus Club has been as much about personality as it has been about a position.
Certainly, all Club members will be achievers, but they also need to have a sense of fun.
Candidates for membership, which is by invitation, must be proposed and seconded by full members - and candidates must also have attended at least one Club dinner as a guest.
Upon acceptance by the Committee, a candidate then goes onto the waiting list until invited to join by the Hon. Membership Secretary, acting on behalf of the Committee and its members.
In 2013 the membership voted overwhelmingly to open its doors to female members for the first time. Other than this change, the criteria for membership will remain the same.