Last updated 3 March 2009
Formed in October
1869 as Peckham Hare and Hounds, and converted shortly after into The Peckham
Athletic Club, this group of oarsmen, cricketers, gymnasts and general sportsmen
would seem to be the earliest instance of a Club deliberately incorporating both
track and cross-country in the basic purposes of its existence.
Explosion of the population of London
caused the Club to move to “The Green Man” at Blackheath in July 1878 and to
change its name to Blackheath Harriers. Under the presidency of Frederick
H Reed from
1882 to 1905, membership soared to exceed 200 by 1883, and the Club provided
many prominent competitors and officials for national and area athletics. In
September 1898 the Gazette was first published and continues up to the present
day for private circulation among Club members only.
with the Territorials meant that the Boer War and then the First World War in
1914-18 placed considerable demands on the Club, both in terms of the volunteers
for active service and the pressures on those remaining to keep the Club in
being. By 1922 they felt obliged to move out to West Wickham for cross-country
and to Catford Bridge for track meetings.
From 1922-27 H
J Dyball served
as Hon Secretary and was instrumental in the Club’s renaissance, with
membership exceeding 500 by 1923. In 1926 Blackheath Harriers purchased its
present freehold Clubhouse at Hayes for £850, which has since been added to,
both in terms of extension to the building and additional land for car parking.
Ownership actually resides in B H H Q Ltd, a company limited by guarantee, and
all members of the Club are members of the company.
The 1930s saw amateur athletics expand
significantly, both for the Club and in the general athletic world. It also saw
the arrival of Blackheath’s favourite son, Sydney
who joined in 1931 -
Sydney died on 21 December 2006
aged 92 years. He set world records of
4m 6.4s for the mile in 1937 and 1m 49.2s for 880 yards in 1938, both at Club
meetings, and won European titles in 1938 and 1946 at 1500 and 5000 metres
Courtesy of many Club stalwarts, the
Club never closed in the Second World War, so that in spite of National Service,
membership topped 800 in 1947. For the next quarter century the likes of Victor
Secretary & Starter), Alan Brent (Cross-country), Norman
Page (Track) and Jack
Secretary) played prominent parts in the Club’s overall success. Strong
performances in the Kinnaird, Ryder, Reading, Sward, Waddilove and other such
trophy meetings over this golden period guaranteed Blackheath’s inclusion in
the National League (Division 1), newly formed in 1969, our centenary year.
Though relegated in the ‘seventies,
Blackheath returned to the National League in 1979 and to Division 1 in 1984,
hovering between Divisions 1 and 2 ever since. 1994 saw a double success,
winning both the National Cross-Country and the National 6-stage Relay titles,
and in 1995 the National Cross-Country title again and the National 12-Stage
Relay. The National Young Athletes Boys Final was won for the 9th
time in 1997, and the following year we took the national Junior League final
for the second time, whilst Julian
Golding became Commonwealth 200m champion in
Kuala Lumpur. Supporting teams participate regularly in the Southern Men’s,
Veterans and Women’s Leagues.
A men-only Club for
123 years, Blackheath went open in 1992 and now provide competition for women of
all age groups at both Norman Park Track in
Bromley and from their Clubhouse at
Hayes. At their AGM in March 2000, the Club changed its name to Blackheath Harriers, Bromley, to reflect its status as Bromley’s
leading athletics club and its commitment to all athletes in the borough.
March 2003 Blackheath Harriers, Bromley merged with Bromley AC to become
Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC
Copies of The
Centenary History of the Blackheath Harriers (Second
Edition amended and updated – 267 pages to cover 120 years) are available for
£15.50 including package &
surface mail world-wide from Brian A Saxton, 56 Bourne Way, Hayes, Kent, BR2 7EY
on receipt of a
cheque payable in the UK. This book
Wooderson – Forgotten Champion are
available for a total discounted price of £20 from the same source.