History

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Last updated 3 March 2009

History

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.

Strong connections 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 Wooderson , 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 respectively.

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 Beardon (Club Secretary & Starter), Alan Brent   (Cross-country), Norman Page (Track) and Jack Sims (Club 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.

In March 2003 Blackheath Harriers, Bromley merged with Bromley AC to become Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC

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