Tag Archives: 1912 Olympics

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.

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.