One of Oxford University’s most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs will finally fling its doors open to women – but only in the evenings.

Vincent’s, whose all-male members are selected for excelling in sport, has decided to open up its premises to members of the female equivalent, Atalanta, along with female sports teams. While the club will retain its strictly all-male membership policy, Atalanta members will be able to use the club in the evenings without being signed in by a Vincent’s member.

The lunch policy of the club, situated on St Edward’s Street, is unchanged and members of Atalanta’s are invited to have lunch at the club only on Saturdays.

Ellaine Gelman, President of Atalanta’s, acknowledged that it was a big step having access to Vincent’s since Atalanta’s has never had its own clubhouse.

She said, “this is an exciting time to be a member of Atalanta’s club – we have so many things in the pipeline. I think this partnership will be great for both clubs.”

She stressed that Atalanta’s and Vincent’s would remain autonomous, “Atalanta’s will remain a separate club – we are very proud of our history and our identity – much like the Vincent’s members.”

A committee member of Vincent’s commented that while the decision does nothing to reduce the exclusivity of Vincent’s, it will increase the club’s business.

He said, “from Vinnie’s point of view it increases the use of the club and it gets the girls’ equivalent of Vinnie’s more involved. The general idea is to get more people using Vinnie’s – the only difference is that girls are allowed to come up without signing in.”

Jess Barnes, ex-secretary of Atalanta’s, also warmly praised the decision, “I think it’s fantastic that Vincent’s now welcomes Atalanta’s members and female sports teams.”

She commented that this was “exactly the sort of change Atalanta’s has been looking for – such cooperation with Vincent’s club is a “brilliant development.”

She added that Atalanta’s members were very much looking forward to making the most of this new opportunity.

Atalanta’s was set up in 1992 with the aim of promoting women’s sports. Women are eligible to join if they have received a blue, half blue, or colours after competing in a Varsity match.

Vincent’s was founded in 1863 with the aim of bringing together the leading members of the University.