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FA Cup : Ground : Other Sports & Clubs : Harriers Athletic Club
Quintin Hogg : Arthur Kinnaird
The Polytechnic Cycling Club was founded as the Ian Bicycling Club after Polytechnic founder Quintin Hogg’s infant son, and initially catered for the recreational needs of the Poly’s members.
In 1881 it became the Hanover Bicycle Club, in line with the name given to other teams – such as the football sides – and began to compete in and host annual races while organising runs and touring. Within seven years it was providing national champions, a theme that continued until well into the 20th century.
In 1899 AE Walters became the first truly famous member of the club when he won the Bol d’Or 24-hour race in Paris in a world-record time.
In the 1908 Olympics in London CH Bartlett won gold in the 100 miles race from another Poly competitor, CA Denny; at Antwerp 1920 HE Ryan and TG Lance took gold in the 3000m tandem.
The marathon at those first London Games were organised by the Polytechnic Harriers athletic club, while its cycling counterpart accompanied the runners around the circuit from Windsor Castle to the White City Stadium.
In 1938, on its 60th anniversary, the club boasted five world champions in its history as well as those two Olympic heroes, while there were 62 national and Empire champs in the records.
The Polytechnic Netball Club is the oldest in the world.
In 1907 the wider Poly club held a garden party to celebrate the opening of its Chiswick ground, and at that event there was a game resembling netball between the gentlemen and ladies.
For some years afterwards the club was thought of as part of the basketball outfit, which therefore catered for both sexes, as it appealed for opponents.
By 1914 there was enough interest elsewhere to allow the Poly to set up a netball league, which it also ran.
Winnie Watling, born in 1905, was involved in the club from the early part of the century and ran it for decades until late in her life while also serving as treasurer to England Netball. She died in 1996.
The Polytechnic Cricket Club was one of the foundation sports at the Poly’s origin, along with football, swimming and rowing.
The Studd family were as integral to the formative years of the Polytechnic – then the subsequent half-century as many of the clubs performed at the very pinnacle of their sport – as the Hoggs.
Sir Kynaston Studd served as president of the Poly from 1904, after Quintin Hogg’s death, until 1944. He was elected president of the MCC, one of the leading organisations in world cricket, in 1930.
His brother Charles Studd played in Ashes series in England and Australia, including the Oval Test in 1882 when the Ashes were born – when English cricket was said to have died after losing for the first time on home soil against the Australians – alongside the legendary batsman WG Grace.
AG Steele also played in that famous match and also became president of the MCC in his life. He featured for the football club and worked with Studd at the Poly.
A founding member of the cricket club, George Ogilvie, played in the very first Hanover football side and went on to serve as a club official for 70 years. He built the scoreboard that stands on the corner of the first-team football pitch.
The other sports
The Polytechnic Swimming Club had its first national champion in 1888. The Boxing and Fencing clubs also boasted English champions in their midst – and that success continued until after the 1930s.
At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, which the Poly helped organise, one of the Boxing Club’s members won silver – but in 1920 RR Rawson, a gifted all-round athlete that could match the Harriers’ best athletes over a marathon distance, won gold at heavyweight in Antwerp. In Paris four years later HG Mitchell became Olympic champion at light heavyweight.
The Rowing Club took a little longer to match the titles of those clubs, but once established at the Chiswick boathouse Hogg had purchased in 1888 there was no stopping them. Members had to row to Chiswick from the city in order to compete – then set off back down the Thames again afterwards.
The Ramblers were formed by those members who wanted to engage in a social event on Saturday afternoons but were not inclined to dedicate themselves to a competitive sport. It grew out of the Christian Workers Union.
The fourth oldest rambling club in the country, it was involved in the founding of the Federation of Rambling Clubs, now known as the Ramblers’ Association.
The Poly has also competed in rugby, hockey, badminton, tennis, water polo and billiards and snooker tournaments in its illustrious history.
There have been several groups set up away from the religious and educational business of the overall organisation.
The Poly Regiment looked to instil the discipline of the armed forces within its members. Tragedy struck during the 1914-18 war when Major VR Hoare was killed “leading a company of Poly boys of the 12th London” – also known as ‘The Rangers’ – while the Great War also ended many other lives involved in the club.
The Polytechnic Rifle Club was formed in the 19th century, when there was a rifle range at the Regent Street headquarters. The Chiswick ground was used as a rest camp and rifle range during the First World War.
The Polytechnic Parliament was founded in 1883 and is thought to have been the oldest model parliament in the country. In the early part of the 20th century it was hailed as a model for other amateur parliaments and debating societies to copy. It was wound up in the seventies.
There were Polytechnic Dramatic and Operatic Societies – the Pirates of Penzance was one production performed in the early 90s.
The Polytechnic Women’s Institute was opened in 1888 while there were also groups interested in reading and mutual improvement.
All of the activities of the Polytechnic were reported within Home Tidings then the Polytechnic Magazine, which is available from the University of Westminster archive service.
Many thanks to the University and in particular the archivist Elaine Penn, who was very accommodating in the provision of materials and photographs from the archive.