Category Archives: Sporting & Aviation Pioneers

Edgar Lloyd – Lewisham’s Early 20th Century Ultra-Runner

Over the years Running Past has covered a number of pioneering South London athletes – including the mid-19th century Tom Cook, the Greenwich Cowboy; William Gazley, the Star of Kent, the triple jumper Philip Kingsford and marathon runner Charlie Gardiner.  Another distance runner of the same era to Gardiner was Edgar Lloyd – they probably never completed together as the former was a professional whilst the latter remained an amateur.  Edgar Lloyd had his 15 minutes  of fame, well 6 hours 13 minutes and 58 seconds to be precise, in taking the World 50 mile record at Stamford Bridge in 1913.

William Edgar Lloyd was born in Lewisham on 31 July 1886.  He never used the ‘William’ and in press reports of his career was generally referred to as E W Lloyd.  Edgar was the second of four children of Magdelena and William Lloyd who had married in Croydon in 1881 – Magdelana was from Baden in Germany and was listed as a governess in the 1881 census.  William had something on an odd work history in the 1881 and 1891 censuses he was referred to a ‘Professor of Music,’ however in 1901 he was a storekeeper for an electrical engineer and in 1911 a book keeper for a corn merchant.

The family moved around a lot within Lewisham – in 1891 they were at 107 Gilmore Road (pictured above), moving to Ladywell Park in 1901 (roughly where the 1960s variant of Ladywell swimming pool was located) and to an also now demolished house on Perry Hill in 1911.  Edgar was still living at home in 1911, working as a telephone engineer for a firm called Miller; he had left school by the time he was 14 – working as an office boy for an engineering draughtsman in 1901.

In an interview after the record breaking race in 1913, Edgar suggested that he had been drawn to distance running by Petrie’s efforts in the 1908 London Olympic marathon (covered in the post of Charlie Gardiner), whether he had much of an athletic background before that isn’t clear (1).

Why he joined Herne Hill Harriers (HHH) rather than one of the more local clubs isn’t obvious either; as an earlier post on athletics on Blackheath covered – there were three active local clubs Blackheath Harriers then based at the Green Man, Cambridge Harrier and Kent Athletic Club.  Herne Hill Harriers though seem to have had bases in Eltham and Croydon though which may have encouraged him.

Edgar’s name started to appear in reports and results of local cross country and other races from the autumn of 1908.  He took part in a cross country race in Eltham organised by HHH in October 1908 around what was then the upper reaches of the Little Quaggy through the farm land of Coldharbour and Chapel Farms, he didn’t ‘place’ though (2).

He improved quickly, competing in 4¾ mile handicap road race from HHH’s Croydon base at the now closed Leslie Arms in Lower Addiscombe Road in Croydon on a November evening.  He came 10th, with the 3rd best time – the quickest was Harry Green with whom he would compete at the 1912 Olympics (3).

Early in 1909 Edgar, pictured (4) was to come 25th in the highly competitive South of Thames 7½ mile race, which is still organised.  The race was held in a ‘little old-world village’ the clue to its location was that it was ‘within mile or so of the tram terminus at Catford’ – Southend (see below – via eBay April 2016).  They raced over land belonging to the Forsters – so it probably included Forster Memorial Park and possibly the then home to Catford Southend FC and later Waygood Athletic.  Ahead of him was another HHH runner – Jack Gardiner, brother of Charlie.  Jack’s vest was often worn for good luck by Charlie. HHH won comfortably, Edgar didn’t even ‘score’ for them he was the 7th Herne Hill runner home (5).

He seems to have upped his distances during the next couple of years and competed in the 1911 Polytechnic Marathon over the 1908 London Olympic course from Windsor – he came 7th to finish in 3:01:57, in an era when times were much slower.  The race was won by his HHH team mate Harry Green in 2:46:29 (6).  While other references to him running other marathon races have not been found it can be assumed that he ran a few others, probably including the 1912 edition of the Polytechnic Marathon, as he was good enough to be selected for the 1912 Olympic marathon. (Poster on a Creative Commons via Wikipedia)

Edgar was well down the field in the race in Stockholm, finishing 25th from the 68 starters in a time of 3:09:25 for the 40.2 km course.  Conditions though were described as ‘very hot’ with only 35 finishers.  Edgar is probably visible in film footage of the race.

Edgar’s 50 mile race was a somewhat strange affair.  It was organised by Finchley Harriers and was held at Stamford Bridge, which still had an athletics track surrounding the football pitch at that stage and as was noted in relation to Philip Kingsford, was home to the London Athletic Club.  There were races within races – the first few won by Edgar’s club mate Harry Green including

  • 20 Miles – 1:56:51 (8)
  • 2 hours – 20 Miles 952 yards (9)
  • Marathon 2:38:16 (10)

After this point the centre of attention turned to Edgar Lloyd pictured (11) who steadily drew away from the rest of the small remaining field.  At times, it was a bit of a struggle for Edgar as he got ‘rather short in his stride’ but he started beating the records set by Dixon in 1885 by 42 miles, despite a wobble around 45 miles when it appeared that he might fall behind Dixon’s time.  However, he got something of a second wind and finished well – taking 4:28 off the previous world best time (12).  The Stamford Bridge track is picture below in 1909 from Wikipedia.

How long the record stood for isn’t that clear, ultra-running was at that time, and still is, a niche sector of athletics and until the on-line era got relatively little press coverage.  While there are no mentions of Edgar having competed in ultra events after 1913, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t.  The 1913 event probably only got the level of coverage that it managed due to the record.  It isn’t clear how long Edgar’s record stood – by 1984 Bruce Fordyce had taken the time down to 4:50:21.

After the world record race, he still continued to compete, although like every athlete of his generation his career was disrupted by the War.  There are a few press mentions beyond 1918 but they are few and far between – such as coming 16th in a 3 mile race in 1919 in Dulwich village still competing for HHH.

By 1915 Edgar was probably based in Croydon, his son William was born there in 1915 – he had been turning out as a ‘second claim’ for Croydon Harriers before that. In the 1939 Register, he was living with his wife Edith and William at Oval Road in Croydon and working as an ‘Engineer’s Turner’.

Edgar stayed in touch with athletics – he gave his 1912 trophy to the Road Runners Club in the 1950s for their 50 mile track race and presented the trophy in 1953. He watched athletics too including a 50 mile race at Walton upon Thames in 1966 where he was impressed with the American runner Ted Corbitt, often regarded as the ‘father of long distance running’ who was still competing at a good standard at 47.

Edgar died in Bromley in 1972 but his name seems to live on in another trophy, the Edgar Lloyd Memorial Cup, endowed the year after he died, for a 3km junior walk.

Notes

  1. The Sportsman 13 May 1913
  2. Sporting Life 05 October 1908
  3. Sporting Life 20 November 1908
  4. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 17 May 1913
  5. Sporting Life 15 February 1909
  6. Athletic News 05 June 1911
  7. The Sportsman 28 October 1919
  8. Pall Mall Gazette 12 May 1913
  9. The Sportsman 13 May 1913
  10. Ibid
  11. Athletic News 19 May 1913
  12. Sheffield Daily Telegraph 13 May 1913

A big thank you to Bob Phillips for making me aware of Edgar.

Census and related information are from Find My Past.

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Philip Kingsford – A Pioneering Lewisham Triple Jumper

Running Past has covered several south east London athletes and athletics over the years – ranging from the late Georgian walkers including George Wilson, the Blackheath Pedestrian, to Tom Cook, the Greenwich Cowboy, a Victorian professional runner, to Charlie Gardiner, a professional distance runner just before World War One and the Inaugural Women’s AAA meeting in Downham. Of a similar era to Gardiner was Philip Kingsford who was one of the first English athletes to compete seriously at the triple jump.

Kingsford was important in that he paved the way for the likes of Phillips Idowu and Jonathan Edwards whose 1995 record of 18.29 metres still stands.

His parents were Philip William and Laura Jane (nee Cave) Kingsford who had married in Greenwich in mid-1890.  Philip William was a merchant seaman, latterly captain of the SS Britannia probably from the Rotherhithe area, Laura hailed from Belfast.

Philip Cave Kingsford was born on 10 August 1891 in Lewisham.   At the time of the census a few months before he was born his mother was living at 18 Sunninghill Road off Loampit Vale in Lewisham, pictured above.  He father was not listed, presumably away at sea.  His brother Reginald (Rex) was born the following year, again in Lewisham.

The family moved to 90 Addison Gardens near Shepherds Bush around 1900 – Philip William was on the electoral register from that year.  Unsurprisingly, given his line of work Philip William was not listed in the census as he was presumably away at sea as he had been in 1891.

Philip William died in 1907 in Uxbridge, probably at what is now the Hillingdon Hospital; he is buried at Margravine (Hammersmith Old) Cemetery, Hammersmith with his younger son Rex who was ‘killed in advance of 1 July’, on the first day of the Somme  (he is also remembered at Thiepval).

While his younger brother and mother were still at Addison Gardens in 1911, Philip had moved out, although is not obviously listed anywhere else in the census.   After moving to Shepherds Bush, Philip and his brother went to the fee-paying Latymer Upper School where he seems to have been an outstanding athlete and played in the school’s football team.  He moved onto St Mark’s College, Chelsea.

He joined the London Athletic Club, one of the oldest clubs in the country, which by that stage was operating out of Stamford Bridge, less than a mile from home. He began to specialise in the jumps, initially the long jump and the standing long jump.

His career doesn’t seem to have appeared in much in press reports other than a few mentions in 1912, 1913 and 1914.

He competed in the 1912 AAA trials at long jump, along with the standing long jump – coming second in the former to Percy Kirwan who had won championships for 3rd year clearing 6.86 to Kirwan’s 7.07.  It was good enough to get Kingsford to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.  Philip had cleared 7.02 early in the season at the LAC spring meeting at Stamford Bridge (1).

 

He is believed to have started to try out the triple jump in 1912, As the athletics historian Ian Tempest noted ‘English triple jumping was in poor shape in the pre-WW1 period as the event was hardly ever contested. Like so many events, it had effectively been re-invented at the 1908 Olympic trials.’ (2)

Philip set what was the English record and what was to become a British record for the triple jump of 13.57 m (3)  at a club event in June 1912. Sadly for Philip, the record seems to have been a few days after the trials at the AAA meeting which may well have been the deadline for decisions about the Olympic team.  So despite being the best British triple jumper, Kingsford didn’t represent Britain in that event.

Kingsford wasn’t at his best in Stockholm (poster below (4) – his longest long jump was only 6.65 m placing him 15th from the 30 competitors.  His season’s best would have seen him in 5th place.  He was last in the standing long jump, the last time the event appeared in the Summer Olympics.

As for the triple jump competition in Stockholm, Britain was represented by the Irish athlete (this was before partition) Timothy Carroll who finished next to last, with a distance way behind that achieved by Kingsford a few weeks earlier.

Only one press report has been found for the 1913 season –Kingsford competed for the London AC in a match against Sweden in 1913 (5).  1914 saw him become the AAA Champion in the long jump with his best ever jump of 7.09 m.  He was also the best British athlete in the triple jump in the AAA Championships, coming 4th behind three Scandinavians, including the Swede Ivar Sahlin who won in 14.03.  He is pictured below at the AAA (6)

Soon after the AAA Championships he was a comfortable victor in both long and triple jump at a three way international between England, Scotland and Ireland in 1914 at Hampden Park (7)

Completive athletics, like most sports was effectively put on hold for the duration of the First World War, Philip gave up his teaching job at Addison Gardens School and  served with the Middlesex Regiment in India.  While Philip survived the war he died soon after in July 1919, whether it related to wounds or illness from the war, the ‘Spanish ‘Flu’ epidemic or something else isn’t clear.

Philip Kingsford’s legacy was that he was the first in a long line of British triple jumpers that led to the Jonathan Edwards’ jump of 18.29 m at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg.

Notes

  1. Daily Herald 13 May 1912
  2. Probably from Ian Tempest (2002) Triple Jump – Booklet produced for National Union of Track Statisticians (NUTS)
  3. There were longer jumps by Irish triple jumpers, notably 14.92 by Tim Aherne to win gold at the 1908 London Olympics at White City, but these seem to have no longer been recognised after partition
  4. On a Creative Commons via Wikipedia
  5. Pall Mall Gazette 17 June 1913
  6. On a Creative Commons via Wikipedia
  7. Nantwich Guardian 17 July 1914

A big thank you to Bob Phillips, both for making me aware of Philip and for helping to fill in some of the details about Philip’s education, and the location of his British record winning this post wouldn’t have happened without him.

Census and related information are from Find My Past.

Catford Southend – The Non-League Club that nearly took over Charlton Athletic – Part 2

In the first post on Catford Southend they were left at the outbreak of World War 1 as ‘a solid non-League team with a relatively new ground in early 20th century suburbia, in a similar position to many non-League teams that are still around almost 100 years later.’

Their story is picked up after hostilities ceased and football resumed in 1919, like a lot of sport, the Athenian League that The Kittens had played in before the war had been mothballed during the bloodshed of World War 1.  By the time the Athenian League was reformed for the 1919/20 season, Catford Southend had moved on – newcomers to the league that season were to include local non league stalwarts Kingstonian, Bromley and Wimbledon.

Catford returned to the London League after the War, it had been their ‘home’ for much of their existence.  On the field, the 1919/20 season was a struggle, had it not been for the abject performance of Islington Town, the Kittens would have been propping up the table.  Further up the Division, in second place, were Charlton Athletic – the Addicks had initially joined the league during Southend’s brief stint in the Athenian League.  It was probably the only time the first teams Charlton and Catford played in the same league – Charlton moved onto the expanded Southern League for the 1920/21 campaign.

Catford’s 1920/21 season (team photo above – see notes for credit) ended up with mid-table mediocrity – the brilliantly named Gnome Athletic (later the more prosaic Walthamstow Borough) propping up the table.  The following season saw the Kittens finish second, although some distance behind the runaway leaders, Grays.  The 1922/23 season, the last in the League saw Catford hovering above the relegation places.

Just outside the ground at the Dartmouth Arms on the corner of Laleham and Ringstead Roads.  A new landlord, Harry Issaacs, had arrived around 1921who was soon to develop big plans for Catford Southend, it isn’t clear whether he became the owner, but his impact became very clear in early 1923.

A proposal was made to Charlton Athletic in April 1923 for them to move to Catford,  play at what had become known as The Mount and merge to two teams under the Catford Southend name. The logic for the acceptance had been Charlton’s financial losses in the previous season and the hope that they would get more paying punters in through the turnstiles in Catford.

The Kittens had to give up London League status due to potential merger with Charlton as otherwise the merged team would have to play at Catford’s level in the football pyramid.

It seems that the orientation of the pitch was changed to allow a larger stand to be dismantled at the Valley and rebuilt at The Mount, Charlton seem to have paid for the move of the stand which would give the ground a capacity of 20-25,000 (other, less plausible, higher estimates are available). The map below (on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland) from a couple of decades later shows the area covered by the enlarged ground.

1923/24 season that saw Charlton ground sharing at The Mount saw Catford playing in the Kent League.  As was covered in an earlier post of Charlton’s sojourn at the Mount, attendances were not as expected and at the end of the campaign the Addicks returned to the Valley. Running Past covered Charlton’s short stay a while ago – which included a stand sliding down the created terrace towards Laleham Road.  Charlton were heavily criticised at the London League AGM in June 1924 for causing the ‘demise’ of Catford.  While the report of club’s death was premature, The Kittens were in a perilous position (1).

The 1924/25 season saw the club turn professional in the Kent League, they weren’t allowed back into the London League due to their resignation 18 months before.  The decision to turn the Kittens into a professional outfit seemed ambitious at best.  There is much less information available about the Kent League, than those seasons that went before, Catford’s story having to be pieced together from very limited local press reports, often little more than scores and few tables.  Consequently there are frequent gaps in the narrative.  The manager was a former Spurs and Charlton forward Geoffrey Dodd, who had played for the latter at The Mount (2).

While there were some the early successes in the Kent League, they were not maintained.  The campaign started with a 3-2 home victory over Tunbridge Wells Rangers, with the Kittens coming from 2 down in the final quarter of an hour. The campaign continued well during September with a victory against Bexleyheath and draws against Margate and Gillingham (3).

dreamland

In mid-October there was a trip to Dreamland (above – source eBay July 2017), the new home of Margate; it proved to be a nightmare for the home team – the Kittens mauled the men of Margate 5-3.  Unusually, there was a team sheet in the Thanet Advertiser  Bransby, Champion, O’Connor, Shaw, Tolhurst, Wells, Hopper, Devonshire, Weston, Humphreys, Mills (4).

Results were more mixed during October and November and this became the pattern of things, while it hasn’t been possible to find an end of season table, by the end of March, Catford were mid table – 20 points adrift of the league leaders Chatham (5).

The 1925/26 campaign saw little improvement; early poor form saw Catford close to the bottom of the League at the end of October (6).  While results improved during December, including a 9-0 home thrashing of Ashford (7) , the mixed results continued, although another 9-0 victory against Sheppey will have brought cheer to the Catford faithful (8).

The Kittens were finally allowed back into the London League for the 1926/27 campaign but this seems to have been the final desperate throw of the dice to try to make their professional status work.  The Kittens struggled to resource running two teams and started to send ‘short’ teams to some matches – this led to a 13-1 humiliation being inflicted by Sittingbourne (9).

They started to not fulfil games in the Kent League, including a no show in Tunbridge Wells in December (10).  By the end of January 1927 the Kent League table showed a desperate position Catford had only managed to play 10 games, all of which were defeats, with just 5 goals scored and 49 conceded (11).

While the Kent League seem to have been inclined to leniency, once matches in the London League, were failing to be fulfilled, including one at Chelmsford, the London League acted, suspending Catford (12).  The Kent League did likewise but seems to have briefly lifted the suspension in an attempt to allow them to fulfil a game at Norfthfleet – which they were unable to do, leading  to a further suspension (13).

There was to be no comeback this time, by April the record of Catford Southend for the season had been expunged (14).  There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of either Isaacs going bankrupt or the winding up of the club, although it may well have been run through a holding company.

Ultimately, a successful London amateur non-League team was brought to extinction by over-ambition and trying to take a short-cut to Football League status which some of its nearest neighbours in Millwall, Crystal Palace and Charlton had all already obtained.

After the departure of The Kittens, the ground was re-absorbed back into the Park – certainly the Ordnance Survey map from 1949 (above) suggests that the stands had already disappeared by then and a new pitch created alongside.  The outline of the home of the Kittens is still clearly visible through the large flattened area’ pitch area.

Notes

  1. 9 June 1924 – Athletic News
  2. 11 August 1924 – Athletic News
  3. 5 September 1924 – Kent & Sussex Courier
  4. 11 October 1924 – Thanet Advertiser
  5. 28 March 1925 – Thanet Advertiser
  6. 24 October 1925 – Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald
  7. 12 December 1925 – Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald
  8. 27 February 1926 – Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald
  9. 8 January 1927 – Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald
  10. 3 December 1926 – Kent & Sussex Courier
  11. 29 January 1927 – Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald
  12. 4 February 1927 – Chelmsford Chronicle
  13. 4 February 1927 – Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser
  14. 23 April 1927 – Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald

Some of the information for the post has come from the fantastic non-League resource Non-League Matters, which, if you have a penchant for league tables past,  it could keep you occupied for days.

Sadly, the owner of the site looked as though they are planning to mothball the site in May 2017, if anyone reading this has any time on their hands and wants to take it over there are contact details on all the pages on the site other than the home page.

Picture credits – the team photograph is courtesy of the always helpful Lewisham Archives.

Catford Southend – The  Non-League Club that nearly took over Charlton Athletic  – Part 1

Catford Southend have been mentioned once or twice in passing in Running Past, notably in relation to their almost takeover of Charlton Athletic and the latter’s brief stay at Southend’s then ground in Mountsfield Park, The Mount.  Their story is worth telling in its own right as it became a salutary lesson of what happens when there is over-ambition within football clubs.

The club seems to have had its roots in a forerunner club, Catford Rovers, which played from around the 1898/99 season against teams from around Deptford, Lewisham and Greenwich, including Greenwich Pupil Teachers (1).  The first reference to Catford Southend was at the beginning of the 1900/01 season with a newspaper report (2) inviting friendly opponents and a trial on playing fields on what is now Canadian Avenue – possibly a rear entrance to what are now St Dunstan’s School playing fields .  The secretary lived in a house built a few years before by the Catford builder James Watt.

The name Catford Southend suggests a specific location – Southend – around what is currently the junction of Whitefoot Lane and Bromley Road. Press reports for its early years often described their ground as ‘Bromley Road,’ while not absolutely certain this would suggest a ground within the estate of Park House which was at the southern end of what is now Conisborough Crescent.

Certainly it was a location used later as a sportsground by the fantastically named Waygood Athletic (sometimes called Waygood’s) who seem to have played in the long since defunct Southern Suburban League and Dulwich Amateur League along with running cricket teams. They were certainly there in 1914 when the Ordnance Survey  visited what was still a largely rural area. (Map image on a creative commons from the National Library of Scotland).  The main on-line press references for the Waygood’s are in the years from around 1905 to the outbreak of World War 1.  The name was almost certainly a reference to a business name rather than any suggestions of sporting excellence, probably R Waygood and Co Ltd  -Manufacturers of lifts, hoists and hydraulic presses who were based in Borough and later merged with Otis.

Back to Catford Southend or the ‘Kittens’ as they were affectionately nicknamed, they played in the  Bromley & District League 1st Division in their first campaign – the season included home victories against Langdale (3); Bromley St Johns (4); and a 2-1 away victory in Kidbrooke against Anchor, with both goals scored by Boarer (5).

By November that season the seeming success meant that they were able to put out a 3rd team which trounced St Laurence 14-1 (6).

The Kittens first XI joined the London League for the 1903/04 season, although they kept their team in Bromley League.  The London League had been set up in 1896; it was made up of three divisions when Catford joined.  The Premier Division was mainly teams that were to become the leading teams of London football – Spurs, Arsenal, QPR, Fulham, Brentford, West Ham and Millwall, who won the League that year.  The First Division was in the main the reserve teams of those in the Premier League.  The Second Division was a mixture of teams, some still in existence, playing non-League football, others, lost over the years.  Catford won the Second Division comfortably – winning all but one of their games.  They seem to have had to play games behind closed doors for six weeks after a referee was surrounded and abused by fans (7).

Despite winning the League, there was no automatic promotion and the team (below – see notes for picture copyright) played elsewhere in 1904/05, seemingly just in in West Kent League.  There were problems with the ground measurement that season with Kent Senior Cup and London Cup matches against Tunbridge Wells and Dulwich Hamlet respectively having to be replayed (8)

By the 1905/06 campaign most of the Premier League clubs had moved on either to the Southern League or the newly extended Football League.  Catford entered at the equivalent level, now  Division 1, which they again won, ensuring that Chelsea’s reserves came second.  The Kittens lost away the away fixture to Chelsea in February 1906 – but won 1-0 at home.  The team sheet for the away game still survives.

 

The 1906/07 campaign was less successful finishing only 4th; the following year Catford Southend just lost out on winning the title on goal difference to another lost local club – Deptford Invicta.  The 1907/08 team (pictured below – see notes for picture credit) nearly saw the Kittens as Champions – losing out to local rivals Deptford Invicta by a single goal’s difference.  The next seasons though was were more of a struggle with a relegation battle in 1908/09.

The move to The Mount was seems to have been for the 1909/10 season; it isn’t entirely certain because both Bromley Road and The Mount were referred to as Catford in press reports.  The difference is that some games started to be referred to as being played at Ringstead Road (9).  The ground was in the far south east corner of the park (map image on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland)’

It wasn’t the first time Catford Southend had played in Mountsfield Park, since around 1899 it had been home to Lewisham Montrose (Greenwich Montrose in 1899/1900) who seem to have continued in existence until at least 1907. Lewisham Montrose had an ‘interesting’ pricing policy which allowed the ‘ladies’ of Catford free entry but expected no girls, as the press cutting from September 1904 indicates (10).  This would have been about a year before the Park opened to the public after the acquisition of the former home and grounds of Henry Stainton in 1905.

Fortunes in the London League were little better with the move to Mountsfield Park (pictured below), finishing three from bottom in the first campaign there.  Rules were changed 1910/11 and allowed promotion to the Premier Division – it was more of a struggle for the amateur outfit playing against professional team’s reserve sides – including Millwall, Clapton Orient and West Ham – the Kittens were 7th from 8, with the bottom team Deptford Invicta. The Kittens only won 4/14 games.  The 1911/12 season was little better, but the 1912/13 campaign saw a splitting of the league into two smaller sections, with Catford 3rd from 6 teams.

The Kittens were founder members of the Athenian League, which was formed in 1912 and, for the next 70 years was one of the strongest amateur leagues in the South East.    Catford Southend won the league in its first season in 1912/13 winning eleven of the sixteen matches played, running teams in both Athenian and London Leagues.  Their form was less good in the following season with mid table mediocrity in a slightly expanded league (although no team was run in the London League)

They returned to the London League in 1914/15, finishing 3rd in the Amateur section,  but football was curtailed during the war.  This is where we will leave Catford Southend, for now, a solid non-League team with a relatively new ground in early 20th century suburbia, in a similar position to many non-League teams that are still around almost 100 years later.  Life was to change considerably for the Kittens when hostilities ceased and football resumed in 1919, we will return to their story in a future post.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 27 January 1899
  2. Kentish Mercury 24 August 1900
  3. Kentish Mercury 26 October 1900
  4. Kentish Mercury 21 December 1900
  5. Kentish Mercury 23 November 1900
  6. Kentish Mercury 9 November 1900
  7. Sporting Life 14 January 1903
  8. Kent & Sussex Courier 24 February 1905
  9. South London Press 22 October 1909
  10. Kentish Mercury 09 September 1904

Much of the information for the post has come from the fantastic non-League resource Non-League Matters, which, if you have a penchant for league tables past, could keep you occupied for days.

Sadly, the owner of the site looked as though they are planning to mothball the site in May 2017, if anyone reading this has any time on their hands and wants to take it over there are contact details on all the pages on the site other than the home page.

Picture credits – the team photographs are courtesy of the always helpful Lewisham Archives.

Britain’s First Cycling Stage Race Which Almost Started in Catford in 1944 

One of the now seemingly permanent features of the national and international cycling calendar is the Tour of Britain. It is an event that can trace its roots back to a race that was planned to start from Catford – the first ever British stage race.

Cycling stage racing has been common on the continent with races such as Le Tour de France and Giro D’Italia having their origins in the early 20th century. In Britain road racing had been effectively banned since the end of the 19th century.  Time trials  (where riders start on their own and race against the clock) were eventually tacitly allowed often in remote locations with ‘code-named’ courses to avoid any police interest.’ (1)   Mass start races were only ever allowed on tracks, such as the short-lived one on Catford’s Sportsbank Street or Herne Hill, or later on airfields or motor racing circuits – some of the earliest racing at Brands Hatch was cycling, as well as more notably at the Brooklands Circuit (2).

The first road race with a mass start had been organised in 1942 by Percy Stallard, (picture source) it was a single stage race from Llangollen to Wolverhampton.  He and the other organisers and riders were all banned by the National Cyclists’ Union (NCU) as a result.  Stallard set up the rival British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC) to promote racing rather than time trialing.

With Midlands roots, it was perhaps surprising that a war-torn London was to be the location for the (not so) Grand Départ of the first English Cycling stage race.  Perhaps using it as a fundraiser for the Red Cross helped and perhaps it was seen as a morale booster for those suffering at home.

Source ebay March 2016

The race was due to start in Catford outside the then Town Hall (above) on Saurday 5 August 1944, – the beginning of what was then the August Bank Holiday Weekend.  The planned route of the first stage is not clear but the second and third stages were the same –  starting at The Fantail (now Chapter 1) at Locksbottom and looping 60 miles out to Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Pembury before returning to Locksbottom – see below (3).  Just 40 riders were to start the race which received some media interest – the BBC planned to cover the first stage (4)

Presumably when the organisers had agree the route with the authorities, London seemed a relatively safe location – there had been a lull in attacks following the end of the Blitz.  But from June 1944 London was again targeted by the Germans.  The first V1 rockets hit Lewisham on 16 June, including attacks on Lewisham Park and the areas around George Lane and Davenport Road.  Around a 100 more were to hit Lewisham  in the 7 weeks before the planned start, so it was probably understandable that the  Ministry of War Transport wanted the start moved (5).

The race was moved to Farnborough, where, in the end, all three stages started  outside the Fantail Restuarant, almost opposite the Ye Olde Whyte Lyon pub, pictured from around three decades before (6).

As for the race, the first stage was won by the organiser of the initial Llangollen-Wolverhampton race, Percy Stallard.  The second stage saw Les Plume from Manchester triumph, despite the seemingly safe location in the Kent countryside, during the race the RAF shot down another London bound doodlebug very close to the peloton. With shrapnel coming down around the cyclists, the eventual winner wondered whether they should be in an air raid shelter rather than racing.

The final stage saw a lone breakaway, won by Ron Baker with a sprint for the rest of the podium places of the stage won by Stallard, over ten minutes behind the winner.  Les Plume took the overall victory by just a second from Len Hook who had placed well on each of the stages.  Baker took the King of the Hills competition.

The following year there was the Victory Cycling Marathon from Brighton to Glasgow and a similar national stage race has been almost ever present (there was a five year hiatus from 2000).

Notes

1 William Fotheringham (2005) Roule Britannia: A History of Britons in the Tour de France p8

2 ibid p8

3 Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, 21 July 1944

4 The People, 30 July 1944

5 The People,  6 August 1944

6 Postcard via eBay February 2016

 

George Lacy Hillier – A Victorian South London Cycling Champion

Tucked away in the corner of of Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery is a squat, unremarkable family tomb, it is easy to ignore when passing but it is the family grave of the Hilliers and contains the remains of George Lacy Hillier, one of leading Victorian amateur cyclists and cycling administrators.

GL Hillier 2

A biographer of an American cyclist Arthur Zimmerman puts Lacy Hillier into some context

It is hardly possible to overestimate the important of George Lacy Hillier in British cycling in the 1880s and 1890s … A fierce propagator and defender of ideological amateurism and denigrator of commercialism and professionalism….

 

The biographer, Andrew Ritchie, went on to note that in addition to being a multi-distance champion in 1881, he was a member of the Racing Committee of the National Cyclists Union, he was the editor of Bicycling News – for which he wrote ‘acerbic and verbose articles’, he promoted and judged race meetings and a was a ’tireless and outspoken critic of those whom he disagreed, which was almost everyone.’

George Lacy Hillier was born in Sydenham on 6 June 1856 (1) – his father was from Bloomsbury and a member of the Stock Exchange, his mother from Bognor Regis.  He seems to have been a sickly child and he was sent away to school (2) – the 1871 census had him at the Temple School in Brighton, perhaps to get the ‘air’.

By the next census in April 1881, he was back living with his parents who were then residing in Anerley Park – just to the south of Crystal Palace Park – and already a member of the Stock Exchange.  His rise to fame in the cycling world seems to have been a fairly meteoric one – there were only a few mentions of him in the Victorian press before the 1881 ‘season.’

He had competed in the 50 mile Championships in 1880, but there was no mention of him finishing – he certainly didn’t get onto the ‘podium’(3).  There were some glimpses on what was to come in the autumn of 1880, he won a mile handicap race at Crystal Palace (4) and was placed second in a tryicycle race from Finchley to Hitchin and back against some of the leading amateurs of the day (5).  But in early season races in Leicester (6), at the Kennington Oval, in front of 4,000 spectators (7), and at Alexandra Palace (8) he was winning races comfortably at a variety of distances.

The Leicester race was at the new Belgrave Road Cricket and Bicycle Ground which was later home to the nascent Leicester City for a season.  It was also to host both the mile and 25 mile cycling championship that summer.  With the mile event, there were two rounds and then a final against C E Liles of the Temple Club (9)

GL Hillier 5

With the 25 mile race Lacy Hillier seems to have been content to let others stay on the front making his decisive move on the 21st mile, holding the lead until the end (10).   About a week later he added the 50 mile Championship at Surbiton to his palmarès, winning by 40 yards at the finish (11).

GL Hillier 6

He continued actively to compete for another six or seven years, but he never came close to reliving the glories of the summer of 1881.  He represented Britain in an international match in Leipzig in 1885 (12)

He ran too, competing at cross country for South London Harriers (13); he race walked for the London Athletic Club (14), and, according to his obituary (15) he was also a good swimmer. A hundred years later he might have been an international triathlete.

He was frequently reported in the 1880s and 1890s press reports as an official and timekeeper; he also wrote a massive Handbook of Cycling, which one of the reviews suggested that while ‘ the quantity is great, the quality does not equal it.’ (16).  He was passionate about the amateur ethos of the sport – as a wealthy member of the Stock Exchange throughout his riding career, he could afford to be, at one point wanting those who earned their living as delivery cyclists classed as professionals (17).

While not competing, he continued riding – he was prosecuted in 1897 for the fantastic offence of ‘riding a bicycle furiously’ with the police estimating his speed on College Road in Dulwich at a moderate 12 to 14 miles an hour (18).

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GLH Novel 1Lacy Hillier died in 1941- his Times Obituary (19)  also lists him as writing two novels ‘The Potterers Club’, a now out of print cycling novel, which he launched at the 1900 Cycle Show; the other was ‘The Weston Diamond’ about which little is known.  Despite having moved to Chichester in his latter years, he is buried in the family grave close to the north-eastern corner of Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery.

 

GL Hillier 4

Notes

  1. “Obituaries.” Times [London, England] 24 Feb. 1941: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 15 Apr. 2016
  2. Ibid
  3. Daily News (London, England), Friday, July 9, 1880; Issue 10679
  4. Reynolds’s Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, October 10, 1880; Issue 1574
  5. Reynolds’s Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, November 7, 1880; Issue 1578,
  6. Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, April 23, 1881; pg. 2; Issue 3658.
  7. The Graphic (London, England), Saturday, May 7, 1881; Issue 597.
  8. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, July 10, 1881; Issue 2016
  9. Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, July 23, 1881; pg. 2; Issue 3671.
  10. ibid
  11. The Newcastle Courant etc (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England), Friday, July 29, 1881; Issue 10778.
  12. The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Saturday, September 12, 1885; Issue 14799.
  13. Penny Illustrated Paper (London, England), Saturday, December 05, 1885; pg. 362.
  14. Reynolds’s Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, April 13, 1884; Issue 1757.
  15. Times [London, England] 24 Feb. 1941 op cit
  16. The Pall Mall Gazette (London, England), Friday, May 20, 1887; Issue 6918.
  17. The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post (Bristol, England), Monday, December 7, 1891;
  18. “Police.” Times [London, England] 11 Aug. 1897: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.
  19. Times [London, England] 24 Feb. 1941 op cit

The census and related information come from Find My Past.

Lee’s Accidental Airship Record  – Willows II

When thinking about locations for aeronautical records in south London, the most obvious places to consider are, perhaps, Biggin Hill or the old Croydon Aerodrome (covered in passing in relation to ‘Lady Icarus’);  a  long way down the list would be Lee. But Lee has been home to two  records – the first known parachute fatality at Burnt Ash Farm, which was covered in the blog in 2015, and, for a short period in the early 20th century, it was the accidental location for the end of the longest airship flight  when Willows II landed somewhere around Winns Road on what was known as Woodman’s Farm.

Like the sad tale of Robert Cocking, Lee’s claim to fame was a purely accidental one.  The pilot was aiming for Crystal Palace but due to poor visibility and some technical problems had somewhat overshot his destination.

image

From postcard in author’s ‘collection’

The pilot was Captain Ernest Thompson Willows, he was the son of a wealthy Cardiff dentist and born in 1886.  He had been inspired by the Wright Brothers and built his first airship, Willows I, two years after their flight at Kitty Hawk when Willows was just 19. It was powered by a motorcycle engine and was reasonably successful, its maiden flight outside Cardiff lasted for 85 minutes, the first of half a dozen flights.

The follow up, the imaginatively named Willows II, was another four years in the making and was slightly bigger than the first one and launched in 1909.  He extended the length of the flights – flying from Cheltenham to Cardiff in four hours in July 1910.

image

Picture from ‘Flight’ 13 August 1910

The flight to Lee was the following month.  He left his ‘shed’ in the moors above Cardiff around 8 pm on an August Saturday evening, guided initially by the lights of his father’s car.  The car lights failed soon after England had been reached and Willows was left to steer by a combination of stars, lights from towns and occasional forays down to almost ground level to check where he was via megaphone (1)  His flight took him over Chippenham, Colne, Reading and Chertsey before heading towards Crystal Palace (2).

Coming to a stop was fairly rudimentary and involved throwing a grappling iron out and hoping someone would be able to get hold of it and secure the airship.  On the approach to Crystal Palace, the grappling iron got stuck in a tree and the rope broke.  He drifted on to between Lee and Mottingham, where a watchman with some help from others was able to catch the rope and secure Willows II (3).

There was some damage to the skin with a consequent loss of hydrogen, which needed to be replaced.  So it wasn’t until the following Monday evening that he was able to complete the trip to Crystal Palace – his flight took him over Lee, Hither Green, Catford and Lower Sydenham before reaching Sydenham Hill 18 minutes later – the journey was watched by thousands on the ground.  The final destination was in cloud and he lost those on the ground who he was following, so like the flight to Lee, the final descent was a bit haphazard.

Once at Crystal Palace he did regular demonstrations, which adverts were taken out for in the local and national press – such as this one in The Times (4).

Woodman 2

Willows continued with building airships – Willows II was re-built and re-named as the City of Cardiff in an unsuccessful attempt to win a £2000 prize for the first flight between Paris and London.  While he was able to sell Willows IV to the Admiralty for just over £1000, it seems to have been the only significant money he made from his passion for flight.  A period in the Royal Flying Corps in World War 1 was bookended by offering sight-seeing flights – it was on one of these near Bedford in August 1926 where the basket became detached from the airship and Ernest Willows and his five passengers hurtled to the ground – one of the passengers survived but all the others, including Willows, perished.

Woodman

As for Woodman’s Farm in Lee, it seems to have been a relatively short lived farm, its location is highlighted on the map above.  It may well have originally been part of Horn Park Farm which the blog covered a while ago.  The unplanned landing of the airship seems to be its first mention.  It was also known as Melrose Farm – which it was referred to in the 1914 Kelly’s Directory (5).

The farm was a market gardening operation supplying the army during WW1 and selling produce at Greenwich market (6).  It was run by the Woodman family seemingly until the 1930s, when, like Horn Park Farm, it was lost to developers (7).  The farm house remains on Ashdale Road, helpfully called ‘The Old Farm House’ to make identification easy and was used by the builders of streets around there, Wates, as a site office during the construction (8).

image

Notes

  1. Flight 13 August 1910
  2.  Ibid
  3.  Ibid
  4.  The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Aug 23, 1910; pg. 1; Issue 39358
  5.  Josephine Birchenough and John King (1981) ‘Some Farms and Fields in Lee’, p14
  6.  Ibid
  7.  Ibid
  8.  ibid