Exclusive: Cambridge’s Pitt Club drinking society asks alumni for £50k amid financial peril

The secretive drinking society is asking for minimum donations of £100 to secure its survival

Cambridge’s elite drinking society, the Pitt Club, is in a “perilous position” and has launched an emergency cash appeal in a bid to ensure its survival.

The club, which was founded in 1835 and counts Tom Hiddleston and Prince Charles among its alumni, says without last-minute donations it will be unable to open in the upcoming academic year.

An email sent to members and alumni and seen by The Tab says the club has had no rental income for nine months, and looks set to lose well over half of its income for next year. To fill the gap, it is trying to raise £50,000 in donations, recommending a minimum donation of £100.

In an unusual arrangement, the club rents out its lavish Jesus Lane building to a Pizza Express, and uses the rest to hang out in. Pizza Express entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement – where an insolvent company tries to reach an agreement with its creditors – last month and announced the closure of 73 restaurants, cutting 1,100 jobs.

Previously a male-only drinking club – regarded as the Cambridge equivalent of Oxford’s Bullingdon – the Pitt Club voted in 2017 to allow women to join.

“In short, the Club is in a perilous position. We have received no rental income for nine months, which is unrecoverable, and Pizza Express’s proposed launch of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) looks to deprive the Club of at least 65% of its expected income for the next 3 years,” wrote George Greenberry, a senior trustee of the club.

“As such, we need your help and hope to raise £50,000 in donations over the next year to allow the Club to continue in its current form.”

The email continues: “The Club’s only substantial source of revenue has been reduced to a level which cannot support essential operational costs.

“Without support from its alumni and members, the Club will not be able to open the premises on 7a Jesus Lane or afford essential business costs during this academic year. In short, the survival of the Club in its current form is at risk. We hope you are all able to help ensure the doors stay open, and recommend a minimum donation value of £100.”

Alongside the urgent request for funds, the club also hopes to raise £500,000 by its 200th anniversary in 2035, and says: “The Club’s spirit is still marked by the same characteristics of friendship, eccentricity and above all, good fun, which you will remember from your time in Cambridge. However, in order for that spirit to endure and flourish for future generations, the Club now needs your help.”