Wimbledon Park Heritage Group
Wimbledon Park Heritage Group

Hercules Wimbledon Athletics Club in The Stadium!

From the Hercules Wimbledon Athletics Club website we have:
'The decision to form Wimbledon Athletic Club was instigated by the then Mayor of Wimbledon, Councillor Sydney Black, OBE, JP, following the opening in June, 1952 of the new £8,000 running track in Wimbledon Park by the former Olympic hurdler Lord Burghley. Councillor Black called a public meeting at Wimbledon Town Hall in the autumn of 1952 which was attended by Jack Crump, the Olympic Team Manager, Wimbledon's MP Sir Cyril Black, Arthur Whitehead (founder of the Lauriston Runners Club), representatives from the men's and women's Surrey County associations and representatives from other athletics clubs.
'The meeting set up a steering committee which resulted in an inaugural AGM at Wimbledon Town Hall on 26 February 1953. Aubrey Reeve, an international miler and the 1935 AAA three mile champion, was elected the club's first secretary, and recorded 64 members that had joined the club. Councillor Black was elected the club's first president with Sir Cyril Black, Jack Crump and Vernon Ely, of Ely's of Wimbledon, among the six vice-presidents. Reg Thrasher was elected chairman and Charles Peach, a master of Pelham School, treasurer.
'The initial club colours were a white vest with blue, black and blue hoops. This was later changed to blue and yellow hooped vest. An original Wimbledon AC had been formed in 1938, but foundered due to the outbreak of the war.
'The new club was based at the new track in Wimbledon Park, where the stand was added at a cost of £17,500 in May 1961. The club built up a nucleus of track and field athletes, but regularly lost distance runners to other clubs. In 1958, however, a cross-country section was formed and Arthur Whitehead generously allowed the club to use Lauriston Cottage, adjacent to the large expanse of Wimbledon Common, as its winter HQ. Tommy Robertson, whose daughter Elizabeth-May was a Scottish international discus thrower, took over as chairman in February 1958 and the club went from strength to strength and has produced a sprinkling of male and female internationals.'
Currently, HWAC has a strong membership that offers ten coaches which cover the full range of field sports from poll vaulting to track and marathon races. There are events for both young and old and now with the addition of lighting to the stadium, night time training during the winter months is particularly popular.
The 1st class running track was funded by over a million pound contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund and on the 18th of March 2010, The Duke of Gloucester opened the new clubhouse in the stadium which cost another £200,000.
As an aside, local legend has Roger Bannister, the first man to run the mile in under four minutes, buying his running shoes from a specialist shoemaker in Revelstoke Road. So, Wimbledon Park has much to be proud of in athletics!
For more information about Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club, please visit their website:
Please help to keep the park tidy by using the litter bins.
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