This week our guest blogger Emily, a Museum Studies M.A. student at the University of Leicester, takes a sneak-peak into the Corinium Museum’s stores to uncover some sporting artefacts.
In celebration of the 2016 Olympics kicking off tomorrow evening, this week we’re taking a brief break from the archaeology, and dipping into Cirencester’s sporting history!
As far as claims to Olympic fame go, Cirencester is the birthplace of gold medallist and world record breaking athlete David Hemery. Hemery’s family moved between the UK and the USA for his father’s work, and he graduated from Boston University. He won the 120yd hurdles at the 1966 Commonwealth Games, and successfully defended his title at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico he won the 400m hurdles and broke the world record with a time of 48.12 seconds. In 2012 he told the Independent that, until he spoke to a BBC reporter after the race, ‘I didn’t know I had won, let alone beaten the world record’. His victory prompted the notorious comment “Who cares who’s third? It doesn’t matter” from BBC commentator David Coleman (a comment which was revealed to be even more regrettable considering the athlete in third place was Hemery’s British teammate John Sherwood). Hemery was named Sports Personality of the Year for 1968 and pursued a career in sports politics. He went on to become President of UK Athletics and Vice-Chairman of the British Olympic Association. Hemery completed the London Marathon (at a walk due to a leg injury) in 2015 to raise money for his charity, 21st Century Legacy.
Among the Corinium Museum’s social history collections, currently in storage, are various objects relating to some more modest sporting moments.
These ladies, for example, are competing in an egg and spoon race at Bledington Sports Day in 1909.
This is an old receipt book containing ‘football notes’ relating to the 1922-3 season of Cirencester Victoria Football Club, and the photo below shows members of the same club in 1920-21.
The collection also houses several tongue-in-cheek memorial cards, such as this one which mourns Sheffield’s loss against Swindon.
These photos of the Cheltenham Races in March 1928 are just one page in a photo album of pictures taken by W. Dennis Moss of the Beaufort Polo Club.
The Corinium Museum also has this photo of Prince Charles playing polo in Cirencester Park on the 8th June 1977.
Finally, the stores are also home to this commemorative ‘Seta Pura’ Olympic silk handkerchief (which I was holding upside-down…oops). This object has no known date, but is nevertheless a charming trinket from Cirencester’s sporting past! Where might your 2016 Olympics memorabilia be in twenty years? Enjoy the games!
I’m going on holiday next week, so there won’t be a blog post. Back on 18th August!
This blog was written by Emily Tilley, a Museum Studies M.A. student at the University of Leicester.