Club History - 1919 to 1961


1919

 

The War was over and things could start to return to normal.

 

The Company received a number of enquiries for the ground for the four summer months, but only one definite offer, £20 from Arthur Hudson for the rights of "Cricket, Tennis, Sheep and Pony Graziing, School Treats, Bowling Greens, and Croquet; but that income from Circuses, Fetes, Sports Meetings and any other unmentioned events should be equally divided between Arthur Hudson and the Company." The offer was accepted.

 

The Rugby Club resumed their tenancy for the ensuing rugby season on renewed terms.

 

1920

 

Arthur Hudson
Arthur Hudson

Arthur Hudson offered to take the ground for the summer months on the same terms as in 1919. Due to the amount being offered not being enough to cover the Company's rates, and various other verbal enquiries received, the Company decided to advertise the use of the ground for these months. Prior to the advertisement being made, Hudson had offered £30, but the Company wanted £40. Hudson said he could not pay this much, so the advertisement was duly placed. Two definite offers were made, both of £35, one of them being from Hudson. The Company accepted this offer.

 

On his retirement from playing rugby (during which he had become the club's leading try scorer), Arthur Hudson was elected Secretary of the Rugby Club in June, a position he held until 1962, becoming known as Gloucester's "Mr Rugby". He also for some time held the positions of Treasurer and Match Secretary.

 

Hudson was also Secretary of the Athletic Club in the 1920's (although we know he was Secretary in 1917 when AW Vears died - see 1881), his obituary in 1973 stating "His sporting interests varied... and was secretary of the Gloucester Athletic Club in the 20’s when they held regular events at The Spa that were of nationwide interest. While with the Athletic club he took them financially from the red into the black and spearheaded one of the most successful athletic clubs in the country."

 

In December, it was minuted that the shares held by Messrs Lovesy and Tandy (for the Athletic Club) have been transferred to the representatives of the Rugby Club, and Messrs Lovesy and Tandy ceased to be Directors of the Company.

 

1921

 

Hudson took the ground for the summer months for £35.

 

Sidney Crowther (born 1901) joined the Rugby Club with a reputation as a sprinter, so he would probably have been a member of the Athletic Club.

 

1922

 

Hudson took the ground for the summer months for £35.

 

1923

 

Arthur Hudson was elected a Director of the Company.

 

Hudson took the ground for the summer months for £35.

 

1924

 

The Rugby Club erected another covered grandstand.

 

Hudson took the ground for the summer months for £35, but with the agreement he would transfer his tenency to the Rugby Club should they so wish as they were wanting to improve the quality of the grass surface during the summer. The Rugby Club did take the tenancy over the summer months and worked on improving the playing surface in that time.

 

1925

 

The Rugby Club took the tenancy of the ground for the summer months for "£35 for Tennis, Cricket, and Grazing, and 1/2 receipts from any other lettings."

 

1926

 

The Rugby Club had agreed to take the tenancy of the ground for the whole year 1st September 1925 to 31st August 1926. This was the start of the Rugby Club taking tenancy for the full year from now on and it substantially reduced the Company's workload in managing the ground, so from now on there were far fewer Company meetings and nothing mentioned within their minutes of the Athletic Club.

 

1927

 

The Company and the Rugby Club had looked at winding up the Company in favour of the Rugby Club taking over ownership of the ground, but this course was decided against due to the great expense it would incur.

 

1928

 

This aerial photo of the Kingsholm ground, taken in September, shows the outline of what appears to be an athletics track. The dark band running end-to-end up the pitch adjacent the posts would have been the straight used for 100 yard sprints. With Arthur Hudson being Secretary of both the Rugby Club and the Athletic Club, it is quite likely he encouraged the Athletic Club members to train here.

1931

This photo showing some members of the club that won the Midwinter Challenge Cup in 1931 appears to have been taken by the Worcester Street elevation of the Kingsholm Gymnasium building. It may be the Cup competition was held at Kingsholm or, more likely, it was taken at a training session when the athletes were asked to come together for the photo.

An interesting item appears in the GRFC Committee Meeting minutes on 3rd November - "changing quarters and baths to be made available at Kingsholm on Boxing Day morning for the annual road race from Cheltenham to Gloucester."

 

1932

 

From GRFC Committee Meeting minutes on 23rd May - "Gloucester Athletic Club to be charged 3Gn for use of Kingsholm for training."

Unknown year

We have no information on this photo so cannot be sure of the year. It is interesting to note the GAC badges on their chests, though we cannot even be sure this is a Gloucester AC photo.

1939 - 1945

 

Due to the outbreak of World War 2 in September, the City Corporation, on behalf of the Government, comandeered the ground and buildings for Civil defence purposes.

 

Nothing is known about what the Athletic Club did during the war, though the presence of makeshift triangular badges (see below) suggests there was some activity.

1946

 

The club started to become properly active again after the hiatus caused by the second world war.

 

1947

 

I am indebted to Michael Curtis for providing most of the information on the club in the late '40s and early '50s. Michael was a member from 1947 to 1952 and was moved to get in touch having watched the TV coverage the club got on the National Lottery programmes in July / August 2013.

 

Training was at a field off Llanthony Road, adjacent Fielding & Platt, with sessions on 2 to 3 evenings a week, with races on Saturdays and a debriefing on Sunday mornings to find out what went right and wrong.

 

Changing was in a garden shed where some cricket gear was stored, the key to the shed being kept under a stone!

 

The club was solely track, there being no field equipment or facilitiy for field events. The only equipment available was two bench seats.

 

The trainer, or coach, was a man whose name is believed to be Nissell, who ran middle distance for Austria and competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics relay. He is remembered as being incredibly fit, and when you had completed your lap you would be met with a yell of "Pick up my stride"  (which was very long for someone not too tall) and he would take you off for another half lap or so.

 

The membership was quite small although with the enthusiasm and total committment of both the secretary and trainer, the club did very well. The sport was male dominated, although the relatively few lady members were also very keen and had some success. The club had no truly long distance runners, and no real strength in the short sprints, except for one Ken Daniell.

 

Ken Daniell (born 1925) played for Gloucester Rugby Club from 1945 to 1950. He could run 10sec for 100 yards. Ken was a member of Gloucester AC and competed successfully in many local races. He ran a creditable second to the British Champion McDonald Bailey (later World 100m record holder and Olympic bronze medallist) in an invitation race at the College Ground, Cheltenham, on Saturday August 24, 1946.

 

Three generations of the Daniell family were runners (and Gloucester Rugby players), including his father, Norman (born 1895), who played for the Rugby Club from 1919 to 1924 (and was the Athletic Club Treasurer when the club started up again after the war), and his grandfather, Henry, who was a well known athlete who appeared at events across the country (in the very early years of the Athletic Club).

 

The clubs main strength lay in the quarter and half mile (440 yards and 880 yards). The team included Peter Fryer, who went on to be part of the winning English 4x440 yard relay team at the British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Vancouver 1954, also finishing 4th in the 440 yards final in a time of 48.4, and AAA 440 yard champion in 1953, '54 and '55 (pb 47.4); the Constabulary quarter mile champion; two useful ex navy half milers; and a half miler who competed at the Scottish championships.

 

Michael Curtis represented the county and competed at the Midlands Championships and AAA Championships, as well as becoming Midlands County Junior Champion.

 

The club had a good 4x440 and strong medley relay team.

 

Competitions generally consisted of local races where conditions varied. It could be one day at Newent on a meadow land track, the next week at Bristol Aero sports ground with its well maintained grass track with lanes marked out. Races tended to be handicap races. As a back marker in a 220 or 440 yard race, with no lanes and a large number of competitors, it could be almost impossible to pass. Entry fees varied greatly, as did the prizes.

 

Although entered in the club's name, competitions were generally on a one to one basis against athletes from other clubs in the area. In larger meetings the final event could be a club relay, usually a medley relay, against the likes of Birchfield, Swindon, Bromsgrove etc.

 

The County Championships were held in Cheltenham and the Midland Championships in Birmingham, where you were up against the cream of the region's athletes such as Arthur Wint, the 1948 Olympic 400m champion and 800m silver medallist who ran for Jamaica.

 

The club finished second to Swindon in a 4x440 yard championship relay (year not known), it may have been a South of England Championship, featuring clubs like Birchfield, Bromsgrove, Thames Valley Harriers amongst others.

 

The club held a sports meeting at Kingsholm on August 23rd 1947.

1949

Gloucester Athletic Club photo 1949
Gloucester Athletic Club photo 1949

The photo above of the club members was provided by Michael Curtis. Michael is second from right in the back row. The lady on the right of the seated row is Doreen Meyrick, and two along from her is Ken Daniell. Although some members are missing (Michael is aware that Peter Fryer, John Curtis and John Harding are absent), this otherwise stands as a whole-club photo.

 

The man on the left with the suit and tie is the club secretary, who did everything in those days, informing the athletes of meetings, obtaining and sending off entry forms, arranging transport etc. as no-one had a car. The man on the right in the dark suit is the club president. The man on the far right is the trainer, or coach.

 

Some are wearing the club badge of the time as shown below. Michael, and the man on the right of the standing row, are wearing a different badge, a red triangle with white middle and the capital letters G top corner, A left corner, and C right corner. We don't know exactly why there are two badges, but the triangular one may have been a leftover simplified one from the war as there would not have been the money around for the proper badge during the war.

Michael Curtis in the 1949 County Championships at Cheltenham
Michael Curtis in the 1949 County Championships at Cheltenham
Letter to Michael Curtis inviting him to an Inter-Counties Meeting
Letter to Michael Curtis inviting him to an Inter-Counties Meeting

 

1950

 

In this year, Michael Curtis won the Midland Counties Junior Championships 440 yard title.

 

This is his entry ticket for the 1950 AAA Junior Championships.

More of Michael's information will be posted here shortly.

1953

 

Nothing is known regarding the club's development from 1953 to 1957.

 

It is not known whether Peter Fryer was still a member of the club when he won the AAA titles and represented England in the Commonwealth Games.

 

1957

The discovery of the Gloucester AC Minutes of Meetings book dating back to 1957 has opened up more information on the club's history.

 

The club revived it's August Bank Holiday sports meeting at the Spa in this year. The meeting was held on Tuesday, the day after the Bank Holiday Monday, and included mens 100 yards handicap, 220 yards handicap, 880 yards handicap and 1 mile scratch invitation race. There were ladies races for 80 yards under 15s, 220 yards and 4x110 yards relay. There were also bicycle races, 440 yards handicap, 880 yards scratch, 1 mile handicap and 5 mile scratch. For the under 15s there were 4x110 yards relay and 100 yards scratch races.

 

Admission was 1/6 in advance, or 2/- on the day. 100 small promotional posters were made for display where the tickets were on sale, and 3 large posters were produced for display round the city; a large banner was put up by the Guildhall.

 

The meeting must have gone well as it is minuted that the city council were very pleased with the event.

 

1958

 

The club decided that they needed to find better training quarters if it was to be able to continue effectively. Elmscroft Community Centre was investigated but found to be unsuitable. The Headmaster of Kings School offered the use of their playing field, and the club accepted the offer.

 

The AGM in March minuted that there were very few competitive members in the club. Officers elected were: President - Councillor A Rich; Chairman - GE Newhouse; Secretary - E Critchley; Treasurer - P Leach; Coach - N Rigby.

 

The coach, N Rigby, was being helped out by Mr S Cooper of Kings School in training the club's athletes.

 

The club again organised an Athletic Sports meeting at the Spa on Tuesday 5th August, the events proposed including a 440/220/220/880 yards medley relay, ladies 100yards, mens mile, veterans race, but there to be no junior or school events. Prizes for the relay were to be £3 per member of the winning team, and £1/10/- for each member of the second placed team; prizes for the veterans race to be £3 for 1st, £2 for 2nd, £1 for 3rd. The Gloucester Co-Operative Sports & Social Club provided a trophy for the invitation mile event. Tents and seating were arranged and 1500 programmes printed.

 

Although the meeting was very successful, a heavy storm before the meeting had dramatically cut attendances and so the meeting made a significant financial loss. The Council Entertainments Committee had paid for the loss (which amounted to £77/5/2).

 

1959

 

The club could not afford to suffer such a loss again for their annual sports meeting. The Council Entertainments Committee had already stated they would not sponsor a meeting this year, but they did offer the use of the Spa ground free of charge if the club wanted to hold their meeting. The club agreed to approach the Gloucester City Supporters to see if they would sponsor the event, and if they did, the event would go ahead.

 

The Minutes stop in March, so we do not currently know whether the meeting went ahead.

 

Mr N Rigby had left the club as coach due to moving away to take up a new job.

 

There being no further Minutes until December 1962, we do not know what the club was doing from 1959 to 1961, other than it was more or less dormant. A comment made in 1962 attributed this to "training being taken too lightly".

 

1960

 

1961