A request from a Woodhorn-based youth project to use material from the Northumberland Archives has brought to light a fascinating record relating to the Morpeth Olympics.
The Archives was already in possession of a minute book of the Morpeth Olympic Games Committee from the post World War II period, but the new record, another minute book, covers the period 1922 until March 1945.
Sue Wood, Head of Collections explains: “The first book came to the Archives some years ago as part of a large record deposit from an old firm of Morpeth Solicitors, Brumell & Sample. It seemed that the book was in the care of the legal company because Stanley Rutherford, a partner at Brumell & Sample, also served as Morpeth Town Clerk and was Secretary to the Morpeth Olympic Committee.
“When we approached the firm to seek permission for the youth project to use information from the first book, we were delighted when they produced another, older minute book which had recently come to light.
“Not only does the book contain a great deal of information about the Olympics,” says Sue, “but it gives us a sobering glimpse into how the war impacted upon life.”
The final entry in the minute book from 25 October 1940 says: “It was proposed by Mr John Charlton and seconded by Mr John Nicholson that a donation of £20 be given towards the funds of the Local Spitfire Fund.”
The Morpeth Olympics began around 1870 and, offering significant prize money, attracted athletes from far and wide. But the games weren’t unique as other Olympics were held in towns around the country too. The games in Morpeth came to an end in the late 1950s apart from a brief revival in the mid 1980s.
“The Morpeth Olympics are a fascinating part of our local history,” says Sue Wood, “and with the London Olympics very much in the news, it would be wonderful to hear from anyone with records of the local games they would be willing to share with us.
The two Morpeth Olympic Games Committee minute books are now available in our Study Centre at Woodhorn for visitors to peruse, and Internet users can see an extract online by searching for ‘Olympic’ in our catalogue at www.experiencewoodhorn.com”
The Study Centre is open Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 4pm (any new users need to bring proof of identity to register). Anyone wishing to share Morpeth Olympic records can telephone 01670 528080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org