Collection PHA - Polytechnic Harriers Athletic Club

1908 Marathon Steward's Medal Olympic Trial Marathon Route Map Polytechnic Old Members Association Reunion Programme Photograph: Three people wearing historical tennis dress from the 19th century, mid 20th century ... Royal Poly Display 1, Olympic Stadium Royal Poly Display 2, Olympic Stadium Royal Poly Display 5, Olympic Stadium Royal Poly Display 8, Olympic Stadium Royal Poly Display 10, Olympic Stadium Royal Poly Display 6, Olympic Stadium
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Identity area

Reference code



Polytechnic Harriers Athletic Club


  • 1826-1995 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

23 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The philanthropist Quintin Hogg (1845-1903) was convinced of the health-giving and character-building qualities derived from organised sport, and saw it as an integral part of the work of his foundation, the Youths' Christian Institute, and its successors the Young Men's Christian Institute and Polytechnic Institute, later Regent Street Polytechnic. Hanover United Athletic Club - for cricket, football, rowing and swimming - originated when the Institute had premises in Hanover Street. After the Institute moved in 1882 to Regent Street, formerly home of the Royal Polytechnic Institution, a harriers (running) club had its inaugural meeting in 1883. The club was known as the Polytechnic Harriers. Hogg provided 27 acres at Merton, where athletics took place. The Polytechnic's 40-acre Memorial Ground at Chiswick, bought by public donation following Hogg's death in 1903, opened in 1906.

The first big open meeting was held in 1888 in conjunction with the Polytechnic Cycling Club. The Harriers organised the first inter-club competition in 1893, and began to publish their Gazette - discontinued in 1902 because all events were reported in The Polytechnic Magazine. By 1914 the Club had established 11 world records, and at its peak in 1929 the Club had over 800 members.

In 1908 Club was invited to organise the trial race for the marathon, which was to be introduced into the Olympic Games in London in 1908. The race, the first to be run in the UK, was run over 23 miles from Windsor Castle to Wembley Park. The Olympic event was also planned by Jack Andrew, secretary of the Harriers. The race began at Windsor Castle and ended at White City Stadium over a distance of 26 miles and 385 yards (added so that the event could finish in front of the royal box). Runners were escorted by members of the Polytechnic Cycling Club. Poor British performance in the Olympics led the Harriers to organise an annual international Polytechnic Marathon, beginning in 1909. The Kinnaird Trophy inter-club meeting at Chiswick was also first held in 1909.

When Regent Street Polytechnic became the Polytechnic of Central London in 1970, relations with the sports and social clubs - which had been an integral part of Quintin Hogg's vision for the Polytechnic - were redefined as part of the new constitutional arrangements. The Harriers became legally separate but retained some links with the Polytechnic Institute. The expense of mounting major events placed an increasing strain on the club. The Polytechnic Institute did not have the resources to modernise the Quintin Hogg Memorial Ground at Chiswick, and by the late 1970s the lack of an all-weather running track prevented the Harriers from hosting major events. The Club left Chiswick to become the Kingston AC and Polytechnic Harriers.

Archival history

Created by the club. Includes records previously held by London Metropolitan Archives (Ref: Acc 2677). Other items acquired into the collection through purchases and donations.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Records of the Polytechnic Harriers, 1896-1994, including:
Committee papers: Minutes and meeting papers, 1893-1894, 1910-1971, 1973-1986; Annual Reports of the Honorary Secretary, 1952-1970 [incomplete]; AGM Agendas, 1955-1958 [incomplete] ; Honorary Secretary's Correspondence, 1931-1985 [incomplete]; Administrative Papers, 1914 & n.d.;

Financial records: Balance Sheets, 1910-1956 [incomplete]; Account Books, 1923-1956 [incomplete]; Annual Accounts, 1934-1957 [incomplete]; Invoices, receipts and working papers, including correspondence 1922-1956 [incomplete]; Membership records, 1905-1912;

Athletics events and results: Race results1928-1965 [incomplete]; Race attendance records, 1946-1950; Polytechnic Marathon: Official programmes, 1908-1983 [incomplete]; results, 1948-1982 [incomplete]; Map of 1908 Marathon route; Marathon Race and Athletic Sports Meeting Programmes, 1909-1983 [incomplete] some annotated with results; Sward Trophy Programmes, 1953-1972 [incomplete]; British Games Programmes, 1949-1959 [incomplete]; miscellaneous programmes, 1920-1975;

Medals and trophies: Shields and medals, 1908-1983; Documentation re the Sporting Life Trophy, 1969;

Members' memorabilia: Newspaper cuttings albums and articles, 1928-1978 [incomplete]; Arthur Winter Collection, 1900-1976 (material collected by A E Winter during his writing of a history of the Poly sports clubs); Thomas J Cushing collection; Charles Denroche collection; Bert C Long collection.

Publications: The Polytechnic Harriers Gazette, 1896-1898 - bound volume; The Polytechnic Harriers Gazette, 1896-1901 - unbound copies [incomplete]; Newsletter, 1958, 1975; Rules Books, 1956 and n.d.; Fixtures Booklets, 1933-1938 [incomplete]; Published histories of the Harriers: They Made Today - A history of 100 years of the Polytechnic Sports Clubs and Societies by Arthur Winter. Published by the Poly Harriers, 1980; The Polytechnic Harriers 1883-1933, by Ernest H L Kleinscroth (later Clynes) with forward by JEK Studd, March 1933; The Polytechnic Harriers 1933-1983, by David Barrington, April 1983; From the legend to the living - the history of the marathon race from its inception in Ancient Greece BC 470 and the history of the Poly marathon from 1909 to its Diamond Jubilee year 1969 by A E H Winter; Miscellaneous publications, 1930s-1957 & n.d.

Photographs: loose photographs c.1890s-c1980s; album containing photographs 1908-1913, album containing press cuttings and photographs 1905-1920; album containing a press cutting from Sporting Life 1883 and page of signatures, 1981, includes photographs c.1900-1925; album containing photographs c.1945-c1970; album containing photographs c.1896-1939; album containing photographs 1945-1983;

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The original order of these records has been lost due to both the fragmentary manner in which the records entered the University Archive and some sorting undertaken by previous staff. A large proportion of the collection was previously held at London Metropolitan Archives where it was listed as a discrete collection; this material has been re-organised within the entire Harriers collection but a note of any previous reference numbers has been retained.

Elaine Penn, University Archivist, July 2010.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Status: Open. Access is subject to signing the Regulations for Access form, unless the records are restricted under the Data Protection Act 2018 or under exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

List at series level.

Allied materials area

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Related units of description

From 1882 Home Tidings and from 1888 its successor The Polytechnic Magazine include reports on the activities of the Polytechnic Harriers. The University of Westminster Archives also holds records of other Polytechnic clubs.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Ethel M Hogg, 'Quintin Hogg: a Biography' (Archibald Constable & Co Ltd, London, 1904), '160 Years of Innovation: the Polytechnic Institution to the University of Westminster 1838-1998' (University of Westminster [1998])

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