Polytechnic Harriers

Emmanuel McDonald Bailey racing
Emmanuel McDonald Bailey, thought to be racing in an Amateur Athletics Association Championships meeting at White City, c1950

In 1882, philanthropist and educator Quintin Hogg brought his Young Men’s Christian Institute from Covent Garden to 309 Regent Street, which soon became known as the Regent Street Polytechnic. The Institute’s Hanover United Athletic Club (the name taken from its original location in Hanover Street) added track and field events to the list of sports it promoted, which already included cricket, football, walking, swimming and rowing. The following year saw the official inauguration of the Polytechnic Harriers, who went on to produce a series of Olympic and national champions.

Members of the Polytechnic Harriers won medals for Great Britain at every Olympics between 1908 and 1952, with the exception of the 1936 Berlin Games. The 1920 Antwerp Games were particularly successful; Albert Hill of the Poly Harriers won gold in the 800m and 1,500m and silver as captain of the 3,000m team, and Harry FV Edward brought back a further two bronze medals for the club.

Emmanuel McDonald Bailey joined the club in 1945, having moved to London from Trinidad with the RAF. He was twice awarded the Polytechnic’s Studd Trophy for best athletic performance, and competed for Britain at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, winning a bronze in Helsinki. The Polytechnic Harriers continued to attract top-name sportsmen into the 1970s, including Alan Pascoe, who took silver at the 1972 Munich Games. In 1985 the Harriers left the University of Westminster’s Chiswick stadium and amalgamated with Kingston Athletic Club.

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Find out more in our poster on the Polytechnic Harriers (PDF).