Posts tagged: Hampshire

1948 Olympic Torch Relay

By , 18th May 2011 00:01

The London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay will travel the length and breadth of the British Isles between May 18 and the Opening Ceremony of the Games on 27 July. The Torch Relay for the ‘Austerity Games’ of 1948 was in many ways a much simpler, some might say purer, affair.

In 1948, the Olympic Flame was lit at Olympia at midday on Saturday 17 July. The Greek leg of the relay, shortened at the last minute due to political unrest, carried the Flame to a Greek destroyer which sailed for Corfu where it was received on board HMS Whitesands Bay at 1.30 pm on Sunday 18th. The Royal Navy frigate sailed for Bari in Italy, arriving at 12.30 pm on 19 July. On landing, the Olympic Flame was carried in Relay day and night – stopping only briefly for civic receptions – through Italy, Switzerland, south-east France, Luxembourg, Belgium before re-entering France to embark on HMS Bicester at Calais at 6.15pm on 28 July. Between Bari and Calais, 1051 Torch Bearers covered 2375 km in under 9 days and 6 hours.

HMS Bicester landed in Dover at 8.25 pm on Wednesday 28 July. 73 runners acted by Torch Bearers along the 255 km route between Dover and Wembley Stadium which passed through Canterbury, Charing, Maidstone, Westerham, Redhill, Reigate, Dorking, Guildford, Bagshot, Ascot, Windsor, Slough and Uxbridge. Mark John was the last Torch Bearer, carrying the Olympic Flame into the Opening Ceremony in the Empire Stadium, Wembley at 4pm on Thursday July 29.


View 1948 Olympic Torch Relay in a larger map

Photos of the Relay passing through the Surrey have been collected into a Flickr group by the County Council.

The Official Report of the 1948 Olympics records how even in the dead of night, large crowds would gather all along the route, especially at points where the Olympic flame was passed form one runner to the next.
“At Charing, in Kent, at 1.30 am, 3,000 people mobbed the torch bearer; at Guildford every available policeman was needed to control the early morning crowds, while Western Avenue, the great double highway from Uxbridge towards London, was lined on both sides for the first time in its history.”

A second Relay was staged to carry an Olympic Flame from Wembley to Torquay, venue for the Olympic sailing competition. The first torch was lit by Lord Burghley, Chairman of the Organising Committee at 9.00 am on Sunday 1 August. The 330 km route to Torquay passed through Uxbridge, Slough, Maidenhead, Reading, Basingstoke, Andover, Salisbury, Sherborne, Yeovil, Exeter and Newton Abbot. After passing through the hands of 107 Torch Bearers, the Torquay Olympic Flame was lit at Torre Abbey, at 11.00 am on Monday 2 August.

High Duty Alloys, a manufacturer of aircraft components, supplied a total of 1720 Olympic Torches from its factory on the Slough Trading Estate. The Torches were cast in the company’s ‘Hiduminium’ high-strength, high-temperature aluminium alloys.

Modern Torch Relays are deliberately more inclusive, and physically less demanding. The inevitable corollary is that logistically, they are even more complex. The most recent major relay in Britain was the Queen’s Jubilee Baton Relay which heralded the XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002. That Relay was based on the operational model used for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Torch Relay.

The 2012 Torch Relays – one for the Olympics and a second shorter one prior to the Paralympics – will require thousands of Torch Bearers. Few will run for more than a few hundred metres. Fewer are likely to run in the middle of the night!

Update: On 15 September 2011, LOCOG announced that the 2012 London Paralympic Torch Relay will run through the night. Typically staged after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Torch Relay is on a smaller scale compared with its Olympic equivalent. LOCOG will break new ground in 2012 with flames being lit in the capital of each of the home nations. These will be relayed to Stoke Mandeville near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire which is generally acknowledged as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. Here the four flames will be combined into one which will be carried in a 24-hour relay to the Olympic Stadium for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony on 29 August.

The Newport semi that forced Wales out of international rugby

By , 15th September 2010 17:35
Llanthewey Road, Arthur Gould

6 Llanthewey Rd, Newport

6 Llanthewy Road in Clytha Park, Newport holds a unique place in rugby history.  In 1897, this semi-detached house forced Wales out of international rugby for a year. The house was the home of Arthur Joseph Gould.

Gould was born on 10 October 1864 at 4 Bridge Street, Newport – an easy walk from Llanthewy Road. One of twelve children, six of the boys went on to play rugby for Newport and three were capped for Wales. Arthur captained both club and country.

Blessed with pace, Gould made an immediate impact.  On his senior debut for Newport aged 18, playing at full back he disregarded instructions to kick for safety and ran-in two tries from long range.  He played for Newport for 16 years between 1882 and 1898 but also ran-out for other clubs, including Southampton Trojans, London Welsh, Richmond, Hampshire and Middlesex when his work as a public works contractor took him to other parts of Britain.

After working away in the West Indies in 1890, Gould retuned to Wales and became Newport’s top scorer in its ‘invincible’ unbeaten season of 1891-2.  During 1893-94, Gould was again top scorer, setting a club record that stands to this day: 37 tries in 24 games.

The first of Gould’s 27 Welsh caps was awarded in 1885.  He captained Wales to its first triple crown in 1893, and became a lynchpin of the national side’s “Welsh formation” of four three-quarters that had first been pioneered by Cardiff.  His undoubted talent and good looks made Gould the first super-star in his sport.  He was widely compared with his cricketing contemporary W G Grace.

This adulation was to lead to a crisis.  A public subscription in favour of Gould was launched in 1896 and initially enjoyed the endorsement of the Welsh Rugby Union.  Donations flooded in from around the world.  Opposed to the concept of allowing players to gain financially from the game, the other home unions broke off fixtures with Wales and pressured the WRU to declare the testimonial illegal.  When support for the testimonial was withdrawn, the ensuing outcry in Wales forced the WRU to accede from the International Rugby Board.  Wales were to take no part in international rugby between February 1897 and February 1898.

However at grass roots level across the British Isles, there was widespread admiration for Gould and great reluctance to loose fixtures against Welsh clubs.  In a letter published in the Western Mail on 28 January 1897, J.B. Barnett of Pontypridd pointed at the hypocrisy of the situation:  “Why Gould should not be allowed to receive the testimonial when W G Grace can be presented with thousands of pounds and a question of professionalism in his case not even be raised.”

For many, England’s RFU were seen as the principal agitators.  The RFU secretary at the time, George Rowland Hill, was vehemently opposed to professionalism – despite earning his own living from the game.  In his book Players, Tim Harris, describes Hill as having “a rare ability to start a fight in an empty room”.  Hill’s terms as secretary (1881-1904) and President (1904-07) coincided with the defection of clubs in Lancashire and Yorkshire from the RFU – a schism that eventually led to the creation of the Rugby League.


6 Llanthewey Rd with Newport's Civic Centre in background

Re-asserting its independence and its right to manage rugby in its own jurisdiction – as enshrined in the constitution of the International Rugby Board – the WRU participated fully in the gala dinner in honour of Gould at Newport’s Drill Hall on Easter Monday 1897.  Sir JTD Llewelyn, president of the Union, presented Gould with the deeds to the house in Llanthewey Road in which he was already living.

In January 1898 Gould announced his retirement in an effort to defuse the situation. Wales was readmitted to the international fold – although Scotland didn’t resume fixtures until 1899.

After his rugby career came to an end, Gould worked as a rep for a local brewery. He died of a haemorrhage at home in Llanthewy Road on 2 January 1919.

His funeral took place on 6 January at St John’s Baptist Church, Newport.  Rugby’s first super-star is buried in St Woolas Cemetary.

Heenan v Sayers: Boxing’s first ever world title fight

By , 15th April 2010 10:53

First ever world title fightFrank Keating of the Guardian has written about an important anniversary for boxing on 17 April – the date in 1860 of the first ever world title fight between James Carmel Heenan of the US and Englishman Tom Sayers.

Most reports describe the fight as having taken place in a “Hampshire field” near Farnborough.  As with the 1833 fight between Simon Byrne and “Deaf” Burk, information about venues for prize fights were only passed on by word of mouth in order to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities: prize fights were illegal even thought many establishment figures were enthusiastic spectators.

Rushmoor Borough Council, the modern local authority for Farnborough, suggests the fight was fought near the Ship Inn, which is about three-quarters of a mile from the Farnborough mainline station.  Special trains had been organised to transport thousands of spectators from Waterloo Station in London to see the fight.

Can anyone pinpoint the site of the fight more accurately? Leave a comment if you can.

Britain’s sporting museums, galleries and collections

By , 21st November 2009 22:39

The map below shows the locations of sporting museums, galleries and collections in Britain.  It includes institutions involved in Our Sporting Life as well as other museums and collections mentioned in the June 2006 Sports Heritage Network Mapping Survey by Annie Hood.

Many are dedicated to a particular sport. Others are museums with a more general remit which include significant collections with a sporting connection.

There are currently 56 collections featured on this map. It’s probably no surprise that 11 of the museums – the biggest group – are dedicated to football. As one of the longest established organised sports, cricket accounts for seven establishments. Follow the link at the foot of the map to see a listing of the museums alongside a larger map.

Museums related to hunting have been included on the grounds that national hunt racing, equestrianism, and shooting sports have the pastime in their ancestries. Its also worth remembering that before Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, in Britain the word “sport” was most often associated with hunting and angling.

It’s interesting to see that sporting museums can be found the length and breadth of Britain. Let me know if you know of any I’ve missed.

PS: its a shame Google maps doesn’t offer icons for archery, motor sport, cricket, shinty, fencing, shooting, badminton, rugby or tennis!

View Britain’s sporting museums and galleries in a larger map

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