The Old Frees' Association (GPS: 5.42502, 100.3246), or OFA, is a recreation club established by former students of the Penang Free School (PFS). It is located at 41 Northam Road in George Town, Penang.
The OFA traces its beginnings to 1916, the year when the school was supposed to celebrate its centenary. However, due to the Great War raging on during that time, the school headmaster R.H. Pinhorn decided not to hold any celebrations. He was nevertheless persuaded to change his mind by a group of former students.
Headed by Quah Beng Kee, they formed a Centenary Celebrations Committee, in the course of which the idea of setting up an association for PFS alumni came to be. The group managed to raise $3,835 for the centenary celebrations - quite a king's ransom - that it had a surplus of $2,726 for the establishment of the Old Frees' Association.
On 31 March, 1924, the first meeting of the Penang Free School Old Boys was held, where Yeoh Guan Seok was elected as president while Khoo Sian Ewe and Habib Marican Noordin as vice-presidents.
The first club house of the OFA was at 10Leith Street. It moved to 156 Hutton Lane (today the New Savoy Hotel) in February 1932. When the owners put 156 Hutton Lane for sale, the association began searching for a new site, eventually settling on 2 Mandalay Road, which they acquired in 1939.
In 1960 the association swapped their Mandalay Road property for a piece of land at the junction of Northam Road and Arratoon Road. The building was designed by an Old Boy, the architect and former Thomas Cup badminton player, Johnny Heah Hock Aun. Construction began in 1962. Its opening was officiated by the third Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail on 17 June, 1963.
At time of writing (August, 2012), the Old Frees' Association is undergoing extensive renovation in preparation for the Bicentenary Celebration of the Penang Free School in 2016.
Located within the premises of the Old Frees' Association is the OFA Restaurant. This is a Chinese restaurant serving both Chinese as well as some Western fare. Among the food available here is mee suah tau.
Old Frees' Association-Annexe Clubhouse
The OFA opened an annexe clubhouse in Bay Avenue on 1 April, 2012. I describe the annexe here.
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