Playing Past is delighted to be publishing on Open Access –Sports and Coaching: Pasts and Futures [ISBN 978-1-905476-77-0]  – This wide-ranging collection of papers, which highlight the richness and diversity of studies into sport and coaching, has its origins in a symposium hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute for Performance Research in June 2011. The contributors come from different disciplines and include some of Britain’s leading scholars together with a number of early career researchers.


Please cite this article as:

Day, D. J. Narrative, ‘Old Harry Andrews’: Surviving the Professional Pedestrianism to Amateur Athletics Transition, In Day, D. (ed), Sport and Coaching: Pasts and Futures (Manchester: MMU Sport and Leisure History, 2012), 61-84.





‘Old Harry Andrews’: Surviving the Professional Pedestrianism to Amateur Athletics Transition.

Dave Day




The nineteenth century witnessed the consolidation of a triadic model of class with those in the middle, especially the educated professional classes, assuming much greater power in the social and political arena. With that power came the ability to be able to shape the world, including sports, in their own image and in the latter stages of the century traditional working class sports such as pedestrianism were superseded by the rationalised, standardised and sanitised versions of athletics preferred by the middle classes. The Amateur Athletic Association (AAA), formed in 1880, centralised the organisation of track and field athletics, established common written rules for events, standardised the dimensions for tracks and equipment, and framed regulations so as to enforce the doctrine of amateurism, particularly the abhorrence of professionalism and gambling. So effective was this programme of rationalisation that professional pedestrianism, a vibrant and widespread working class sport for over two hundred years, had almost disappeared by the time the final blow was delivered with the 1906 Street Betting Act which enacted that anyone loitering in public places for the purpose of bookmaking, betting or wagering should be liable to summary conviction.

For many pedestrians the sport had traditionally provided a career path from competitor to trainer and official but the growing influence of amateurs from the 1860s and the institutionalisation of the sport under middle class control from 1880 created changes, some more subtle than others, in the nature of the working environment for the experienced ‘ped’. This chapter uses the life course of one pedestrian exponent, Harry Andrews, as an exemplar of how such men adapted their working lives to accommodate the shifting nature of the sporting milieu. Andrews (1831/3–1885), who ran his first race in 1854 and was still competing over twenty years later, was typical of the pedestrians of his day. Although not the most prominent competitor of the period he had a lasting association with the sport and found ways to continue working within the emergent amateur athletics scene. While recognising that the use of a biography, especially of a man like Andrews who lacked the political and social status to effect change, only provides a narrative of one man’s life in one location it can, and does, reinforce the impact that national modifications in sporting structures could have an individual level. Harry was not the only pedestrian faced with these challenges and the indications are that others adopted similar strategies although the hidden histories of many of these working-class men make confirmation difficult and reinforce the need for further research, particularly using a prosopographical methodology (Oldfield and Day, 2011), into those who were directly affected by the middle class rationalisation of sport.


Foot-racing was always an accessible sport in which individuals could race each other, as long as they could agree terms, with some events requiring strict walking and others merely requiring that the performer go ‘on foot’ (Radford and Ward-Smith, 2003). In 1857, ‘Stonehenge’, a pseudonym for surgeon John Henry Walsh, defined the different disciplines incorporated under the general heading of pedestrianism, commonly understood, ‘in racing parlance’, as a contest between two or more men, or between a man and time, in walking, running, leaping or vaulting. Leaping over a height could be either from a standing position, with some men clearing the height of their waists, or from a run, with good athletes being able to clear a height higher than their heads. In the standing long jump, men had achieved up to fourteen feet while the running long jump, which required a run of about twenty very quick and short paces increasing in speed up to the moment of take-off, at least 21½ feet had been cleared on level ground. In hop, step and jump a ‘starting point’ was marked off then, ten yards further, another, called ‘the spring’. Competitors were ranged in line on the first then ran to and started from the second, when the one who covered the most ground by one hop, one step and a jump was the winner. Vaulting was leaping with the assistance of the hands or a ‘leaping-pole’, made of fir or bamboo, up to five feet taller than the vaulter and becoming stronger towards the bottom. The athlete concentrated on clearing the bar with the legs at the same time raising the weight by the arms on the pole while in the air.

In race walking the body was inclined forwards and the heel touched the ground before the toes, referred to as walking ‘toe-and-heel’. From 180 to 200 steps per minute were usually taken although in very short sprints, with small, quick and active men, 220 steps per minute were the average. The secret was to keep the knees supple and not too straight and to use the arms as a balance spring or fulcrum although walkers varied a great deal in their use of the arms. From 6 to 6¼ miles per hour was the maximum rate of walking, except in exceptional cases, and the conditions of walking matches, including distance and surface, were generally in writing with umpires, appointed by each side, following the men closely. If either man started running (resulting in a moment when both feet were clear of the ground), the umpire named by his opponent asked him to turn, and he must do so or lose the match, unless the opposite umpire disputed the call, in which case the referee, appointed by the umpires, decided between them. On being required to turn, the walker must turn completely round, and change his mode of walking or be asked to turn again, thus losing the match through constant turning (442-443).

In running the upper part of the body was inclined forwards with the head well up and even a little back, except in sprinting. The chest was expanded and the shoulders thrown back, with the arms raised, the elbow bent, fingers clenched into the palm and the whole upper body held as rigid as possible to allow the auxiliary muscles of respiration to act with their full force. There was considerable variation in the action of the legs although most runners kept their knees rather straight and almost grazed the ground with their feet. The tread was on the balls of the toes, and slightly on the toes themselves, while there was a simultaneous but very slight movement of the arms in unison with the legs. Good wind was as important as good legs and no one should compete unless he had a ‘full volume of lungs and a sound and strong heart’. In running matches the match conditions specified the ground and the distance as well as naming the umpires. The best times so far recorded were a quarter of a mile in a minute, half a mile in 2¼ minutes on level ground, one mile in 4½ to five minutes, two miles in rather less than ten minutes, four miles in 20½ minutes, ten miles in the hour, fifteen miles in one hour fifteen minutes and twenty miles in two hours and a-quarter.

Early pedestrianism

Although the popularity of pedestrianism ebbed and flowed, evidence survives that it was commonplace in Tudor times when entrepreneur Mr Poulter was granted a licence by Elizabeth I to hold foot racing, jumping and throwing events around London. By the seventeenth century, pedestrianism had become the focus of widespread gambling and, as the number of events increased, winning could make a significant difference to the quality of life for working-class individuals (Lile, 2000). Many seventeenth-century footmen were employed as messengers and competitive runners by the gentry while others were the freelancers who were among the first independent professional sportsmen. Lady Anne Clifford recorded in July 1616 that ‘my Lord’s Footman, lost his race to my Lord Salisbury and my Lord lost £200’ (Ruhl, 1984). Pepys watched a footrace in Hyde Park in 1660 and recalled another match in 1663 between ‘Lee, the Duke of Richmond’s footman, and a tyler, a famous runner’ (Griffith, 1997: 237).

Pedestrianism was also conducted against the elements or set tasks. On 24 May 1606, John Lepton of York won a five day challenge by arriving at Greenwich ‘as spritely and lusty as at the first day’ (Guttmann, 1985) and the sport was stimulated in the eighteenth century by Foster Powell, who in 1764, aged thirty, ran fifty miles on the Bath Road in seven hours, covering the first ten miles in one hour. Participation in races by persons other than peds like Powell occurred at festivals or fairs like the Cotswold Games and was usually regarded as lower class entertainment especially female ‘smock races’ (Anderson, 1980). Sometimes races were highly organized, as when two-mile races were held during Marlborough Races in 1739, for which men paid an entrance fee of half a crown and women a shilling, while other events were more spontaneous. When William Styles of Mitcham took on John Robinson over four miles on Epsom Downs in 1738, almost all the inhabitants of Mitcham, ‘having a very great opinion of their man’, backed Styles. After he was beaten a newspaper reported ‘the ordinary people of that town are almost all stript’. Some London tracks began to charge for admission and team races were not unknown with a team from Sandwich easily defeating one from Canterbury in 1769 (Underdown, 2000) while contests performed under unusual handicaps proved popular (Hole, 1949). In 1788 a young man, with a jockey booted and spurred on his back, ran a match against an elderly fat man (Anderson, 1980) and novelty races continued well into the nineteenth century. In a handicap in August 1871 Andrews raced against cyclists Keen and Noble as well as Smith on his pony, Black Bess, but was passed by everyone by the half mile point. At Lillie Bridge again in 1878 ‘old Harry’ saw competitors to their marks in a stone picking contest involving fifty stones one yard apart (Bell’s Life 19 August 1871: 8; 5 October 1878: 9).

Radford (2004: 9) makes some interesting points about the quality of early pedestrian performances arguing that London costermonger James Parrott completed a measured mile-in-four-minutes for a wager of fifteen guineas to five on 9 May 1770 and that Weller won a mile-in-four-minutes wager by two seconds on 10 October 1796. James Appleby was reported to have run twelve miles in 57min in 1730 with Thomas Phillips only fifteen seconds behind and both men subsequently ran four miles in 18min. Analysis of running performances at different times, in different places and over different distances, suggests times that were physiologically consistent. Pinwire (Pinwherie), for example, ran ten miles in 52min 3sec in 1733 and twelve miles in 64min in 1738. As Radford and Ward-Smith (2003) point out it should not be assumed that distances could not be measured accurately since agricultural chains were accurate for distances over 220yrds and the technology existed to measure time precisely with watchmakers such as Bramble from Oxford Street providing specialist timepieces. The course was sometimes specially prepared, with grounds being ‘scraped’, and peds invariably ran for wagers under the scrutiny of umpires and referees who, along with the stakeholders, had to be satisfied that the terms of the wager, including distance and time, had been met in their entirety. Radford (2004) concludes that since racehorses of the period are believed to have run as fast as they do today it is probable that so did athletes who were motivated by large sums of money and took their racing seriously.

Nineteenth-century developments

As the countryside was industrially developed, pedestrian contests increasingly required alternative, standardised facilities which could also provide for statistical comparisons so marathon events moved away from point to point challenges, with their varying terrains, gradients and surfaces, to the use of measured courses. After the turn of the century long distance events often took place on racecourses with Ipswich, York, Goodwood, Epsom, Brighton and Newmarket all hosting challenges between 1804 and 1815. Pedestrianism received a stimulus in this decade from the performances of Captain Robert Barclay who accepted a wager to go on foot one thousand miles in one thousand successive hours at the rate of one mile in each and every hour a task he completed in July 1809 more than two stone lighter in weight but still in good health. Barclay’s original wager was for 1,000 guineas but, with side bets, it was rumoured that his success was worth 16,000 guineas at a time when a farm labourer or artisan earned on average about a guinea a week (Radford, 2001: 56).

Although this challenge took place on a racecourse, eighteenth-century urbanisation had already widened access to commercial pedestrian events because cities held the populations, communication and transportation networks, discretionary incomes and defined segments of time that promoters needed. The response from entrepreneurs had been dynamic with specialist sporting facilities becoming more prominent, especially in London. George Smith at the Artillery Ground promoted foot racing and cricket while Thomas Lord laid out a cricket ground near Dorset Square in 1787 which was also used for pedestrian contests (Daily Advertiser, 24 October 1743; Underdown, 2000: 160). This movement towards specialised running venues gathered pace after Barclay’s success with the ‘Hounslow inclosure-ground’ appearing in 1818 and a running track was laid out at Lords in 1837 (Brailsford, 1999: 204). As pedestrianism flourished in the capital more inn landlords seized the opportunity to provide facilities for the sport. In 1856 the need for an enclosed ground ‘near some railway or other public mode of conveyance’ was met by Mr Cockell of the Lord Auckland Tavern, Falcon Lane, Battersea, who enclosed, roped and staked grounds into a pedestrian race course at the back of his establishment within walking distance of Clapham station and one mile from Battersea Bridge. The oblong course had a circumference of 441yrds but plans were in place to enlarge this and to erect a 300 seat grandstand. A professional pedestrian, Charles Westhall, was entrusted with the management and there were fourteen changing rooms, something which had been missing at grounds like Garratt Lane (Bell’s Life, 30 March 1856: 7).

Like Westhall, Harry Andrews was engaged to manage pedestrian activities at various grounds throughout his competitive career and even in the 1860s he could be found officiating at Brompton. In September 1865 he was acting as referee for the Diamond against Jobbins two miles walking race and he placed the men at their starts for the Mincing Lane Club Athletic Sports in December as well as starting Holiman against Crew over 50yrds. During 1866, Harry acted as starter, judge and timekeeper at Brompton where he refereed evening amateur matches, illuminated by torchlights, in January. When he started the 100yrds race between Burton and Hill for £10 the articles stipulated that they should be allowed fifteen minutes on the mark and if not off in that time they were to be started by pistol. The time having expired Harry was sent to start them but just as he reached the mark they got away with Hull ‘poaching’ a yard although Burton was the eventual winner. In July 1867 Harry started Barratt against Chicken over 100yrds and in August he was being described as the ‘general manager’ at West London Grounds, Brompton. Harry, ‘the Brompton trainer’, roped and staked the ground for an amateur match over 120yrds and accepted the ‘unenviable office of referee’ in the six miles walking match between Harris and Richardson who was cautioned several times during the first mile. So ‘foul was his gait’ that Harry disqualified him in the sixth lap (Bell’s Life, 16 September 1865: 6; 2 December 1865: 6; 16 December 1865: 6; 20 January 1866: 7; 19 May 1866: 7; 18 August 1866: 7; 15 September 1866: 7; 22 September 1866: 7; 27 October 1866: 7; 17 November 1866: 7; 22 December 1866: 10; 27 July 1867: 2; 10 August 1867: 7).

A subsequent description of this West Brompton Ground in 1872 suggests that it might not have been the most salubrious location even though it was constantly well-attended. The area was in an ‘inchoate condition’ with houses in various stages of erection, interspersed with vacant spaces placarded as ‘ground to be let’. The road leading to the grounds was rudimentary, consisting mostly of mud, fragments of bricks and miscellaneous refuse. The entrance was at the corner of a public house and a shilling was exacted from everyone who entered although the scaffolding of an unfinished house over the way provided a vantage point for those unwilling to pay. There was an inner enclosure, for which an additional sixpence was charged, within which stood a wooden pavilion, an athletic club room restricted to the use of members. In front of this was a series of terraces commanding a view over the racing ground, a grass enclosure, in the centre of which the reporter noted a grazing donkey. Around the edge of the grass ran a broad path of firm but elastic material on which the walking and running competitions took place with three circuits making up a mile. Separated by some rough hurdles from the enclosure was an area allocated to the oi polloi, a rather ‘motley crowd’ of ‘shabby, lanky, unwholesome looking cads, in caps and seedy, slangily-cut clothes’ while others were of a short, square build, with full, puffy faces and ‘short bull necks’. Ladies were conspicuous by their absence and the better dressed men in the eighteen penny enclosure were described as ‘gents not gentlemen’ (Observer, 3 March 1872).

By this time Andrews was fully engaged in ground management and the 1871 census shows that he and his family were living at 16A Seagrave Road adjacent to the Atlas Hotel and to the Lillie Bridge Grounds (see Fig. 1). Henry (Harry), a 40-year-old ‘Domestic Servant’ born in Middlesex, was accompanied by Mary A. (37), Mary A. (14), Henry (8), Ellen (6), William (5) and Andrew (2) (1871 Census RG10 70). The ‘well-known Harry Andrews’ was referee and timekeeper at Lillie Bridge on Saturday 29 October 1870 when amateur Mr J. Francis of Peek’s Cricket Club walked seven miles within an hour for a cup subscribed for by his fellow members. On 12 September, Harry’s benefit at Lillie Bridge included a three mile race, a three miles walking race and Andrews running four miles in twenty-one minutes for a purse of sovereigns given by gentlemen. In 1871 Harry was named umpire for a race on Thursday 12 October and in February 1873, when heavy snowstorms led to doubts about whether or not the planned handicaps would be decided, Harry and a staff were employed in clearing the course from an early hour. Although the centre remained ‘dazzling white’ the path was in all respects as good as before the snow and around 1,000 spectators were present. Lillie Bridge officials in October and November 1873 included Harry being entrusted with the pistol and the ‘veteran Harry Andrews’ was still at Lillie Bridge in January 1874, acting as judge with C. Perry as starter on one occasion and seeing competitors to their marks for a 120yrds handicap on another occasion when White, the ‘Gateshead Clipper’ was starter (Bell’s Life 5 November 1870: 4; 10 September 1870: 7; 7 October 1871: 2; 8 February 1873: 7; 25 October 1873: 9; 29 November 1873: 9; 3 January 1874: 4; 10 January 1874: 9).

Figure 1.
Lille Bridge Grounds shown on Charles Booth Map (1889)

By May 1874, however, Harry had moved to the Queen’s Ground, Hammersmith, where a new path had been created. The facility which ‘bids fair to be a thorn in the sides of the Star and Lillie Bridge’ had been placed under the management of Harry Andrews who ‘long filled a similar post at the latter place’. This new running ground could be secured at far more moderate terms than Lillie Bridge making it a formidable rival to the latter establishment. The lap was one-third of a mile with fine sweeping corners and the path was rapidly getting into good order under the care of Andrews whose ‘well known experience in timing those who use the ground for practice will be of quite as much use as Benson’s clock at the rival shop’. At the Thames gathering in July the attendance was small but the arrangements were admirable and the path, thanks to Harry’s hard work, was much improved. In September and October, ‘the ex-champion four miles runner’ saw competitors to their marks although the final heats of Mr Berry’s 125yrds handicap in October were marred by the discovery that the distance was five yards short. Harry, ‘who has had ample experience in that line, informs us that he measured 100yrds and went to dinner but that during his absence his mark was altered’. In November, Andrews ‘took upon himself the thankless office of judge’ and kept a keen watch on several sprint heats, disqualifying Williams who false started three times, and he was judging again in December (Sporting Gazette, 9 May 1874: 423; 27 June 1874: 590; Bell’s Life 11 July 1874: 9; 26 September 1874: 9; 24 October 1874: 9; 31 October 1874: 9; 21 November 1874: 8; 28 November 1874: 9; 19 December 1874: 9).

Harry was subsequently appointed as ‘ground attendant’ at the Surbiton Recreation Grounds where he started for the Kingston Bicycle Club meeting on 11 June 1880. In September 1881, Harry officiated for the Twickenham and Richmond Bicycle Clubs and at a twenty mile race for the championship of the Hammersmith Bicycle Club ‘old Harry’ checked the laps. At that point Henry (Harry) Andrews (53) a ‘Whitesmith’ born in Middlesex, Mary A. (48), Henry (19), a ‘Ground Keeper’, Ellen (16), William (14) and Andrew (12) were living at Florence Villa, Kingston, Surbiton (1881 Census RG11/837). The precarious nature of professional engagements is highlighted by one reporter in 1882 who observed that the Surbiton track was not in a fit state for racing in March because the managers had discharged ‘old Harry Andrews’ for the 1881/1882 winter season. At the Civil Service Bicycle Club meeting in October 1882 Harry acted as timekeeper and at the Surrey Bicycle Club members’ handicap over one mile in January 1883 he was starter and timekeeper. At the Kingston Rowing and Cricket Clubs Sports in April the path was described as being ‘in splendid order thanks to…Harry Andrews’ and in August 1884, at a benefit for the ‘veteran long-distance runner’, two of his sons were competing, H. Andrews junior in a 440 yards handicap and A. Andrews winning a mile handicap off a 190 yards start (Bell’s Life 12 June 1880: 10; 24 September 1881: 3; 4 March 1882: 10; 21 October 1882: 12; 13 January 1883: 5; 21 April 1883: 11; 30 August 1884: 3).

A ‘Golden Age’

Coinciding with a period of significant industrial growth and development, the heyday of professional pedestrianism occurred during the period from the 1840s onwards, described by Anderson (1980) as ‘the golden age of pedestrianism’, with challenges and races receiving substantial press coverage. Andrews, described by one American paper on his death in 1885 as a ‘long time champion pedestrian of England’, had begun his own competitive career in the 1850s. He stood 5ft 5½in and weighed 7st 9lb and he was so afflicted with St Vitus Dance in his youth that he initially found it difficult to obtain a backer (Denver Rocky Mountain News, 27 April 1885). St Vitus Dance is a disorder of the nervous system that occurs following a streptococcal infection and it is characterised by involuntary movements of the face, hands and feet. This normally occurs between 5-15 years of age and many patients recover spontaneously within six months. Despite this early drawback Harry, often referred to as Andrews of Holborn, was competing regularly at Garratt Lane, Wandsworth, by 1855. On 9 July he was scheduled to meet Springhall over five miles, with Springhall getting 100yrds start, for £5 a side and he appeared in the second heat of an All England half mile handicap off a 60yrds start in October. In December, Andrews won a mile race for a silver snuffbox by about six yards in 5min 20sec and on 18 February 1856 Harry had a start of 440yrds in a handicapped four mile race (Bell’s Life, 24 June 1855: 7; Era 14 October 1855: 14; Bell’s Life, 30 December 1855: 7; 17 February 1856: 7).

Harry’s regular advertisements offering challenges and terms of engagement highlight the sums of money involved and reflect a continuing tradition that harked back to the eighteenth century. In early 1856 he offered to run a number of different men over distances ranging from one to five miles for £5 or £10 a side. When a match was made with Burke to run five miles at Garratt Lane for £5 a side on 6 February, the articles, together with half the money, were deposited with Bell’s Life with the remainder of the money to be produced at Peter Crawley’s Queen’s Head and French Horn in Smithfield. By mid-April Harry was prepared to race Mahoney for any sum if he would race over four miles, the first in at the end of the first mile to receive half the stakes. In September he was offering to race one mile to ten miles for £10 or £15 a side and similar challenges continued throughout 1857 and 1858 for up to £25 a side or for own sum. Harry was even prepared to run a challenge in Oxford if he was allowed reasonable expenses and in 1862 Harry challenged W Spooner over 25 miles for any sum up to £50 a side (Bell’s Life, 6 January 1856: 7; 13 January 1856: 7; 27 January 1856: 7; 30 March 1856: 7; 6 April 1856: 7; 20 April 1856: 7; 18 May 1856: 7; 14 September 1856: 7; 5 October 1856: 7; 30 November 1856: 7; 8 February 1857: 7; 22 March 1857: 7; 12 April 1857: 7; 9 August 1857 p. 8; 27 September 1857: 8; 14 March 1858: 7; 18 April 1858: 7; 9 May 1858: 7; 21 September 1862: 7).

As for the races themselves, at Falcon Lane in March, Harry was third off a twelve yards start over 120yrds and he won a four mile running match off a 50yrds start in April 1856. In May, Andrews and Mahoney ’toed the scratch’ a few minutes after five and got away at the first attempt. Mahoney led by 10yrds at one mile, thereby winning half the stakes, but Andrews led by 100yrds at two miles and won by 50yrds. Races in the second half of 1856 included Harry making a match to run five and a half miles in thirty minutes on Monday 23 June at Garratt Lane. Andrews and William Newman agreed to run six miles for £10 a side on Saturday 27 December at the Lord Auckland and Harry was given a 300yrds start in a five mile handicap on Boxing Day at Garratt Lane when anyone found entering under a false name would be disqualified. In March 1857, Harry had a start of 30yrds over one mile against Charles Cooke at Garratt Lane. Betting was 5 to 4 on Andrews and he won as he pleased after Cooke stopped. He was also matched with Young Wilson, over one mile and a half for £15 a side, in April he came fourth in a one mile handicap at Garratt Lane off a 40yrds start and in a ten mile handicap for a £10 first prize in June Harry, off one minute and a half, was unplaced (Bell’s Life 30 March 1856: 7; 13 April 1856: 7; 18 May 1856: 7; 1 June 1856: 7; Era, 7 December 1856: 13; Bell’s Life, 21 December 1856: 7; 8 March 1857: 7; Era, 8 March 1857: 13; Morning Chronicle 9 March 1857: 7; 15 April 1857: 7; Bell’s Life, 19 April 1857: 7; 7 June 1857: 7).

As the Hackney Wick ground became popular Harry appeared there regularly coming second in a half mile handicap off 75yrds in May 1858 and he was second in his heat in a 580yrds handicap at Garratt Lane on 21 June, despite starting off 60yrds. A ten mile handicap at Hackney Wick in August 1858 saw Harry getting 60yrds start in the third heat when he came third having lost seconds at the start. In a 500yrds handicap in September Andrews was given a start of 65yrds and he also made a match with Charles Cooke over four miles for £15 a side. On Monday 18 October 1858 Harry had a 70yrds start in a half-mile handicap and at a one mile handicap at Oxford on 8 and 9 November for £10 Harry started off 125yrds. A match was later made with James Mahoney of Bermondsey to run one mile for £10 a side at Dartford. Harry lost to Mahoney on Monday 10 January 1859 but he reversed this defeat beating Mahoney in a four mile handicap race for a silver cup winning by 60yrds in 22min 50sec off a 400yrds start. Harry entered for the ten miles Champions Cup on Monday 11 July at Hackney Wick, when entrants were required to run in colours which they had previously forwarded to the proprietor, and a five mile handicap for men who had never won £20 on Monday 8 August at Hackney Wick saw Andrews start off 100yrds (Bell’s Life, 30 May 1858: 7; 20 June 1858: 8; Era, 27 June 1858: 13; Bell’s Life, 29 August 1858: 8; 5 September 1858: 7; 17 October 1858: 7; 31 October 1858: 7; 5 December 1858: 7; Era, 12 December 1858: 13; Bell’s Life, 16 January 1859: 7; 27 March 1859: 7; 3 July 1859: 7; 7 August 1859: 7).

When Whitmore and Andrews met at Hackney Wick in July 1861 to run four miles for £10 a side, Harry was the favourite at 2 to 1 although ‘little money changed hands’. Both men had taken every precaution to get into good condition and both looked first rate. Andrews led from the start, was 20yrds ahead at the end of the first mile and he never slackened his pace in the second mile when he was 50yrds ahead. Whitmore seemed to be getting ‘baked’ and after another quarter of mile he ran indoors leaving Harry to finish the race by himself (Era, 4 August 1861: 14). Harry’s benefit at Hackney Wick on Monday 23 February 1863 included a mile handicap by novices for a gold ring and a three mile walking handicap for a silver snuffbox followed by a six mile handicap for a silver cup which included Andrews off a 300yrds start. In March, Andrews was announced to run Park in Glasgow for an hour for £25 a side, with Park having two minutes’ start, and ‘Old Harry’ appeared at the Prince of Wales Ground Bow in a race for the four miles Champion Cup. Two months later Harry appeared at Canterbury in an All England ten miles handicap race, first prize £10. William Lang started off scratch running 4min 45sec, 9min 55sec, 15min 3sec, 20min 12sec, 25min 36sec, 30min 50sec, 41min 12sec, 46min 50sec before finishing in 52min 58sec. However, Andrews, having had three minutes start, won by 150yrds. Harry, with a 50yrds start, raced the Bounding Brunell at Hackney Wick over five miles for a cup and £20 on Monday 27 July following a dead heat between these men on 6 July. In a race for the four miles Champions Cup at Bow in August Harry won by 30yrds in 20min 59sec, ‘the “old-un” again proving too much for his youthful opponents’, and in November he gave Culmer of Drury Lane 50yrds start in a mile and a half for £15 a side at the West London Grounds (Bell’s Life, 22 February 1863: 7; 8 March 1863: 6; 31 May 1863: 3; 26 July 1863:7; 9 August 1863: 7; 17 October 1863:7).

Harry was also a member of George Martin’s professional circus that toured Britain with the Canadian ‘Deerfoot’ (Lewis Bennett). Adverts for the troupe’s appearance in a four mile race for £50 in Northampton on 19 May 1862 recorded that George Martin had received so many requests for Deerfoot to run around the country that he had ‘at enormous expense’ constructed a portable race course, twelve feet high, and nearly a quarter of a mile in circumference to enable a race to take place in any town which had a suitable piece of ground. Deerfoot, Brighton, Lang, Mower, Jackson and Andrews would all appear in the same costumes as they had worn before the Prince of Wales and additional events included sack racing, jumping, throwing the hammer and vaulting from a springboard. Admission 1s, Reserved places 2s and ‘Working Classes’ 6d. On Tuesday 19 August 1862 Harry appeared in Edinburgh racing Deerfoot, Brighton and Mowers and the ‘unwearying Harry Andrews’ was at Hackney Wick in May 1863 with other leading peds including White, Lang, Richards and Deerfoot who ‘to the astonishment of all present, and the disgust no doubt of his backers’ dropped out at three miles. James Baum had commissioned a special ten miles champion belt, valued at 50 guineas, for this match and Andrews, who stood 8 to 1 against in the betting, finished third for a money prize behind White whose time of 52min 14sec was ‘the swiftest on record’ (Northampton Mercury, 17 May 1862; Caledonian Mercury, 18 August 1862; Carlisle Journal, 15 May 1863: 5; York Herald, 16 May 1863: 12; Roe, 2002/2003).

The Martin enterprise was not without its difficulties for the peds. Harry’s best performance was when he won the twelve miles championship in September 1862 by defeating Deerfoot and Jackson at Canterbury (Denver Rocky Mountain News, 27 April 1885). In late April 1864 the Andrews v. Finn case, which was the outcome of this race, went to court. It appears that Harry had left Martin’s troupe to go into training before Canterbury and, having won the handicap for £12, he was refused the stakes. He had sued George Martin, the ‘pedestrian trainer’, in the Wandsworth county court but lost the action so he was now suing the proprietor who denied his liability. Jackson was called on Harry’s behalf and stated that the proprietor had paid him the second prize of £2. For the defence, George Martin said that he paid his troupe £66 a week and the expenses were £140. He paid Deerfoot, his ‘principal card’, £12 a week and his expenses. Andrews and the rest ran the race in question and took what they could get; he paid him 10s. The prizes were ‘imaginary’ and the public was ‘gulled on the subject’. All that was taken for admission was £23 and after deducting £7 the rest of the money went in expenses. Mr Laxton relied on the fact of Jackson having been paid to show that the plaintiff was entitled to his first prize of £12. Mr Brown contended that there was no ground for the action and that it was understood in all such matters that the parties were to take any sum that could be given after the expenses were paid but the jury found for Andrews (Lloyds Weekly Newspaper, 1 May 1864: 12).

As this court case came to a conclusion Harry was still competing, taking a benefit at Hackney Wick on Monday 14 March which included a six mile race for a silver cup, a four mile walking handicap for a silver watch and chain and a one mile race for a gold ring for novices. In September he was matched to run ten and a half miles in the hour for £5 a side at Hackney Wick while he was due to race Markham at West London Cricket Ground, Brompton, on Saturday 30 May 1865 over two miles for £5 a side with Markham receiving 50yrds start. In September and October 1865 Harry was in Lincolnshire where he backed himself to run ten miles inside an hour at the Ship Inn ground in Boston on 9 October when other races involved stone collecting and carrying weights. After accomplishing the ten miles in 57min 37sec he staked £15 to £10 that he could run eleven miles in an hour on 14 October although rain prevented this attempt and Harry ran instead a five mile demonstration in 27min 40sec ‘leaving himself in the hands of the company to be remunerated for this trouble’ (Bell’s Life, 5 March 1864: 7; 10 September 1864: 7; 6 May 1865: 7; Stamford Mercury, 29 September 1865; 13 October 1865; Lincolnshire Chronicle, 21 October 1865). According to the Illustrated Sporting News Harry also travelled to France with the American Indian Steeprock in 1865 but the speculation did not pay off and he returned to London (Roe, 2002). When Andrews published challenges in February 1866 he noted that he was ‘getting too old to give young ones any start’ but in October he was engaged to race Joe Tuck at Brompton over two miles for £15 a side (Bell’s Life, 3 February 1866: 6; 25 August 1866: 7).

Training and trainers

Preparation for professional pedestrian events required a serious application to training, normally under the guidance of an experienced trainer. When Andrews, with 50yrds start, ran Mills for £50 over four miles at Lillie Bridge, the grounds of the Amateur Athletic Club, on Monday 16 August 1869 both men, renowned for stamina and courage, had trained specifically for the contest. ‘Old Harry’, reportedly 38 on 28 May 1868, had been prepared by C. Perry but, possibly through over anxiety, he had ‘drawn himself too fine’ which influenced the betting with his backers showing ‘the white feather to a fearful extent’ and after an early struggle Andrews ‘resigned the contest’ (Bell’s Life 14 August 1869: 7; 18 August 1869: 4).

Although many traditional training methods and coaching practices had been recorded by Sinclair in 1806 these principles had been refined by the time Harry Andrews was beginning his racing career. Stonehenge (1857: 445-452) outlined many aspects of contemporary practice related to exercise and diet and he emphasised that no-one should attempt to compete without preparing properly. Before starting strict training the ped should take an ordinary dose of aperient medicine and reduce fat by sweating. Two types could be employed, both used first thing in the morning. Natural sweating involved putting on extra clothing over parts most particularly loaded with fat so that a brisk walk, or slow run of a few miles, induced a profuse perspiration which was maintained for an hour or so by being covered with horse-rugs or a feather bed or by lying in front of a fire. Then the clothes were stripped off and limbs sponged with hot salt and water before being dried with a coarse towel and rubbed with Dinneford’s gloves. The arms and body should be clothed much more than the legs since the object was to reduce the weight of the abdomen, chest, neck and arms all of which were of little use in walking or running as compared with the legs. Natural sweating, however, could shorten a pedestrian’s stride because of the quantity of clothing, and make his pace ‘slow, slovenly and dull’. In artificial sweating the man was stripped and wrapped in a damp sheet wrung out of cold water before rolling him in a thick blanket and placing him under a feather bed to cause him to perspire freely. After sweating up to an hour and a-half cold water was poured over the body which was then rubbed dry. Artificial sweating was less likely to cause colds than natural sweating, it did not exhaust and tire the frame nearly as much, it produced ‘great buoyancy of spirits’ and it could be graduated precisely. Used before breakfast two or three times a week up to three pounds could be lost each time. Either process was better than night sweating by Dover’s powder or sweating liquors although sweating medicines had traditionally been used by most experienced runners.

As to diet, breakfast should consist of oatmeal porridge with the addition of some beef or mutton and a little bread. As an alternative the man could take a pint of home-made table-beer, not too strong, with a larger allowance of bread. It was not desirable to stint the appetite, unless enormous or there was a super-abundance of fat, but, in most cases, it was better to reduce weight by work and sweating than by starvation. Meat should be broiled since very little nutriment was lost and many athletes were unable to digest ‘red rags’, underdone steaks. Tea and coffee were not good for training purposes, cocoa was too greasy, and butter, sauces and spices should be avoided with nothing but salt and a dash of black pepper used as condiments. Dinner should consist of roast beef or mutton but veal, pork and salt beef or bacon should be avoided as should goose, duck and wildfowl generally while hare was often accompanied by unsuitable highly-seasoned stuffing. Nothing was better than venison, eaten without seasoned sauce or currant jelly, while the occasional use of white fish was a useful alternative in long periods of training. One to two potatoes could be taken at a meal and cauliflower or broccoli could be used as an occasional change but no other vegetable was allowed. Bread could be taken ad libitum and about a pint to a pint and a-half of home-made beer, a little sherry and water, or claret and water, drunk with the meal and a glass or two wine or good port after dinner. Nothing disordered the stomach more than keeping to one diet and this must be constantly borne in mind by the trainer who might even allow an occasional pudding but always with bread for its foundation. Many trainers objected to supper but, unless the training period was long enough to acclimatise the stomach to a fast from dinner to breakfast, it was better to allow a pint of oatmeal porridge with some dry toast at eight o’clock. No absolute rule could be laid down for everyone and trainers required experience and skill to be able to bring all their athletes out in the same degree of relative strength.

In training for running or walking, a 30min light run before breakfast would prepare the stomach for breakfast after which the pedestrian should amuse himself with billiards or other games. At eleven he should be ready in his flannel walking costume and in shoes with dogskin upper-leathers and a moderately thick sole for walking or a thinner one for running. From 11 until 2 or 2.30, his first walk should be kept up without stopping after the first week, during which time he gradually increased the time from an hour and a-half. The pedestrian should be accompanied by his trainer who amused him as much as possible by anecdote or conversation. After dinner, one or two hours should be spent resting on a hard mattress or horse-hair sofa after which the first walk should be repeated. Sprinters only needed two or three hours exercise per day since speed would be diminished if the work was kept up more than three or four hours and men preparing for short matches should run two or three times daily over the intended distance. The trainer should either run against him with a start of a few yards, which gave confidence, or time him exactly, keeping the result secret. For events of ten or fifteen miles training should not be at top speed for that distance but at a slower pace with occasional ‘spirts’ for five miles at most. Longer distances must be done once or twice every day, according to its length, at a good speed. When training for long distances, at least five or six hours a day must be spent in walking and running, changing from one to the other as a relief during the early part of training but in the end going a little beyond the racing distance every day, unless that was at the man’s limit because he will be overworked if he attempted it every day. He must only do just as much as his trainer thinks he can perform without injury but if the appetite was maintained and the sleep was sound the trainer need not worry that his man was doing too much. The trainer should be a good walker himself and walk against his athlete taking care not to dishearten him but just stimulating him by competition and keeping up his spirits by allowing him to beat him. Everything depended upon mental treatment and many races were lost by the anxiety felt prior to the competition. This was the biggest difficulty met with in training and the trainer should endeavour to inspire confidence in his athlete on all occasions.

Professional pedestrians often assumed training duties at early stages in their own careers and in 1856 when John Leonard challenged Young Lyons (Andrews’s Novice) of Holborn from one to four miles it seems that Harry was already training others. In the Castles against Quinton race over four miles at Hackney Wick in August 1858, when the men had to traverse the ground twenty-seven times and sixty-one yards to complete the distance, Harry ‘waited upon Quinton’, a butcher, and in August 1863, he was looking after W. Jones of Islington at Brompton. Although Jones stated that he was ‘all that could be needed in condition’ observers felt that he did not look as fit as he had been on previous occasions. Harry attended Jones again in a four mile race against W. Richards (the Welshman) in March 1865 when neither man could ‘boast of much condition’ and in June Harry was looking after Charles Clarke, the Sporting Barber, at Brompton in his attempt to walk seven miles in one hour, a feat he achieved with 45sec to spare (Bell’s Life, 1 June 1856: 7; Era, 22 August 1858: 14; Bell’s Life, 16 August 1863: 3; 18 March 1865: 7; 10 June 1865: 7).

Andrews became a successful trainer of amateurs (Denver Rocky Mountain News 27 April 1885). In 1864 he was at Brompton looking after amateur Mr B. Molloy in a two mile race for a silver cup and in June 1867 he attended amateur walker Mr Ryves of the Civil Service in his successful attempt to walk fifteen miles in three hours for a £10 supper (Bell’s Life, 30 July 1864: 7; 29 June 1867: 7). In 1869 when living at 2 Little Cottage, Fulham, Harry began coaching at the Star and Beaufort House grounds and during the 1870s he trained amateurs at the universities, Woolwich Military Academy and London Athletic Club (Roe, 2002). He was also noted as ‘coaching’ cyclists from 1875 and in September 1876 he prepared David Stanton for his international 50 miles race with Camille Thuillet, the French champion, at Lillie Bridge. Later that month ‘old’ Harry, along with Jack White, attended Keen in his 50 miles match with Stanton on Monday 17 September when Stanton’s attendants included ‘Natty’ Perry. In October Andrews again looked after Keen, who rode a 54in ‘Eclipse’ machine of his own manufacture, while Stanton was once again attended by Perry (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 5 November 1875: 3; Bell’s Life, 9 September 1876: 5; 23 September 1876: 9; 14 October 1876: 5). In 1876 Harry’s book A Few Practical Hints to Amateurs on Training for Walking and Running, Rowing, Bicycling and other Athletic Sports was first published. This was subsequently described as being particularly interesting because it was the ‘compilation of one who has had so much experience in preparing runners’. In one 1878 advert it was priced at 1s. (post free) and ‘No athlete should be without it’ (Sporting Gazette, 17 March 1877: 256; 27 April 1878: 401).

Amateurism and athletic clubs

Despite its popularity among the lower middle and working classes the educated classes became increasingly critical of pedestrianism and the men associated with it. In 1872 one observer described a typical professional pedestrian, who, when clothed like an ordinary mortal, was given to a baggy, brown great coat, very short hair and a scanty show of linen. But he was a ‘horse of quite another colour’ when in working costume, which often consisted only of a Guernsey and a coloured breech cloth. Their legs were bare from hip to ankle and some of the profession, judging from appearances, were ‘not yet thoroughly acquainted with the detergent properties of soap when used with water’. The ‘saddling paddock’ where the men stripped for competition was always thronged with their backers and others gazing in at the doors and windows eager to gather from the physical appearance of the men ‘some augury as to their chances of success’. It could not be said that the men wre troubled with modesty for they took their clothes off coram publico with the utmost nonchalance (Observer, 3 March 1872).

Quite apart from the social status of competitors there were a range of issues surrounding the sport itself, not least its obsession with gambling. In 1885, T.H.S. Escott commented on the popularity of pedestrianism in Sheffield and described how ‘All the approaches to the ground which is the scene of the contest – many of them miserably squalid and dirty – are densely crowded. Hundreds of men throw up work for the day in order that they may get a glimpse of the sport, and make their books, or have an opportunity of backing their fancy’ (Golby and Purdue, 1999). Even the artisan classes were critical.

The shrines at which the sporting section of the Saint Mondayites principally sacrifice are the “running grounds” situated in the suburbs of the metropolis and the larger manufacturing towns, at which pedestrian and other athletic sports take place. At these grounds, the amusements consist for the most part of races ranging in length from eighty yards to five miles, wrestling matches, and pugilistic benefits upon a large scale, in which a number of the more or less brilliant stars of the ring show up in conjunction with pedestrians and wrestlers. But the events the sporting Saint Mondayites take the greatest interest in are those amateur ones of which they themselves are the promoters, and in which eminent members of their own body are the principals and in which the men have been backed by their shopmates (Wright, 1867).

Other sections of middle class, particularly the Lords Day Observance Society, were concerned about pedestrian events being held on Sundays. On 3 October 1878, the Society reported on a walking match at a public house in Hastings of 1,250 miles in 1,000 consecutive hours, including ‘six Sundays when the public were admitted day and night as spectators’, and on 29 May 1879 members heard replies to their efforts to ‘stop the demoralising exhibition by Madame Willetts on the Lord’s Day.’ In 1880, a report ‘of a woman walking 1,000 miles in 1,000 consecutive hours including Sundays with money payment for admission to the exhibition’ was heard in May and on 21 December 1880 there were discussions over ‘the admission on the Lord’s Day of 12,000 persons to witness the Pedestrian, Gale, at his task’ (Brailsford, 1996).

Pedestrian events were marked by crowd disorders, often resulting from a combination of gambling and drink. In December 1863 when Lang ran Sanderson for the four-mile champion cup at Bow he appeared with his right leg in bandages having broken down from excessive training during the last two years. He had been unable to run during the last fortnight and had been using the Turkish baths. With Sanderson leading by 30yrds Lang dropped out and ‘A scene of indescribable confusion now ensued, and some person struck Lang a severe blow on the eye, for which he received a well-merited punishment’ (Standard, 8 December 1863: 2; York Herald, 12 December 1863: 12). The sport also increasingly fell into disrepute as talented amateurs entered races under false names, professionals impersonated unknown amateurs and results were sometimes arranged in advance. When gentlemen founded their own athletic associations later in the century they targeted gambling as being the root cause of many of these abuses and they attempted to eliminate the laying of bets and wagers. Although early athletics clubs initially found it difficult to replace pedestrianism with its strong tradition of professionalism, bookmakers and spectatorship (Birley, 1996) the formation of the Amateur Athletic Club (AAC) in 1866 and the codification of its official rules eventually sealed the fate of pedestrianism. By the 1890s, standardised track championship events, as well as cross-country contests, were popular, especially in the south, while the fortunes of pedestrianism declined as the AAA began prosecuting athletes who raced under false names and took an increasingly firm stance on betting, culminating in its exclusion from all their events in 1906 (Lile, 2000). These amateurs subsequently airbrushed out the professionals, whose times were almost universally superior to the new amateur records, suggesting that part of the motivation behind the new organisations was a desire to exclude superior but lower class competitors from amateur events. Amateur officials also decided that records would only be recognised if completed on a 400m or 440yrds track and, with these restrictions in place, it is little surprise that professional athletes were increasingly marginalised.

Making a living

Despite these structural developments professionals retained a degree of credibility as trainers, officials and advisors. One amateur recalled in 1902, for instance, that he had been advised by ‘old Harry Andrews’, the veteran English trainer, to try to win distance races with a succession of spurts as against a uniform pace (Otago Witness, 22 January 1902: 58). Although Harry continued competing, starting off 8min 30sec in a 10 mile handicap at Lillie Bridge in December 1876, he supplemented his income by selling athletic equipment and serving amateur organisations, drawing on the skills of groundsmanship and track setting that he had been developing since 1868 (Bell’s Life, 30 December 1876: 3; 25 April 1868: 10). By 1878 he was advertising ‘Athletic Grounds Managed, Roped, Staked, and Laid Out. Handicaps Properly Marked Out, Gentlemen Trained for Athletic Sports. Running Paths Made on moderate terms. Athletic Bills Posted. Address, Harry Andrews, 3, Northbrook, The Grove, Hammersmith, West’ (Sporting Gazette, 27 April 1878: 401). At the Richmond Cricket Club Sports at Old Deer Park in April 1875 among those present were the Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, and his Serene Highness, the Duke of Teck. The course for the longer races was a quarter of a mile in circumference and this had been roped and staked by ‘Old’ Harry Andrews so ‘no doubt need to be entertained as to its accuracy’ while times were taken with a Benson centre-second stopwatch. At the South Norwood Athletic Club fete in June the veteran had carefully marked out the course and reports on the Gravesend Football Club sports in August observed that since such an experienced official as Andrews had marked out the course it was almost unnecessary to state that the distances could be relied on. At the South London Harriers meeting at the Oval in October 1876 a quarter mile course was created by Harry ‘with his usual accuracy’ and for the annual sports of the Joint-Stock Banks Cricket and Athletic and Lombard Bicycle Clubs in August 1977 held at the Private Banks Cricket Club Grounds, Catford Bridge, ‘old Harry’ roped and staked out a ‘capital quarter-mile course’ (Bell’s Life, 1 May 1875: 9; 19 June 1875: 9; 21 August 1875: 9; 7 October 1876: 9; 4 August 1977: 5; Sporting Gazette, 21 August 1875: 840).

Harry also had regular engagements. At the Reading Athletic Society’s sports, held in the cricket field adjacent to the railway station, in July 1875 the course, thanks to ‘old Harry’, was in splendid order being newly mown and rolled and as level as a billiard table. In July 1876 an excellent grass course about 400yrds in circumference had been carefully roped and staked out by Andrews, who also looked after the telegraph board, and in 1877 that respected veteran ‘ped’ and trainer of amateurs, Harry Andrews ‘the staying man of Holborn’ as he used to be styled, staked out a capital course of 400yrds and also started the events. In 1878 Harry again created a 400yrds course, which was ‘kept free from the intrusion of those who had no business there’. In 1879 Harry marked out a course with ‘his customary care and ability’ and in 1882, the ‘veteran ped’ prepared a quarter mile course and the turf was in ‘splendid order’. In 1884 he staked a quarter mile course with a separate piece for the sprinters and the ‘arrangements were absolutely faultless’ (Bell’s Life 10 July 1875: 5; 22 July 1876: 5; 1 September 1877: 5; 13 July 1878: 9; 19 July 1879: 9; 1 July 1882: 10; 28 June 1884: 3). At the Clapham Rovers Football Club sports in April 1874 Lady Forbes presented the prizes and the roping and staking of the course, 381yrds in circumference over rather heavy turf, was carried out by Harry Andrews, the late manager of the Lillie Bridge Grounds, so ‘it is almost needless to remark that his arrangements were as perfect as ever and distances carefully measured and marked’. A report on the sports in 1875 recorded that Harry deserved praise for the ‘admirable manner in which he had prepared the course, attended to the telegraph board, officiated as starter until the arrival of the official, and made himself generally useful’ and in 1876 Harry roped and staked a 380yrds turf course as well as attending efficiently to the duties of the telegraph board. When these sports were held in May 1878 a quarter mile course was skilfully laid out by Harry, ‘who did the best he could to reduce the rather heavy grass into something like order’. Everything passed off admirably again in May 1880, when Harry’s ground arrangements ‘left nothing to be desired’, and in 1882 the veteran ped roped and staked out a ‘capital course on excellent turf’. A most enjoyable feature of the afternoon’s proceedings was the splendid music of the Coldstream Guards Band. Harry constructed the course again in both 1883, when the arrangements in other respects were highly creditable, and 1884 when the course was ‘admirably laid out by the ancient ‘ped’ (Bell’s Life 25 April 1874: 9; Sporting Gazette, 25 April 1874: 9 Bell’s Life 24 April 1875: 4; 29 April 1876: 9; Sporting Gazette, 25 May 1878: 496; Bell’s Life 25 May 1878: 9; 8 May 1880: 10; 13 May 1882: 11; 12 May 1883: 4; 14 May 1884: 1; Horse and Hound, 17 May 1884: 117).


Harry Andrews died in Kingston on Thames, Surrey, aged fifty-four, on 7 March 1885 at 35 Cottage Grove, Surbiton. The informant, M. Andrews, was Harry’s widow and this ‘Manager of Recreation Grounds’ had died after suffering from Bright’s Disease for eighteen months (Death Certificate). Bright’s Disease was a classification for different forms of kidney disease which was named after early nineteenth-century doctor, Richard Bright and the symptoms most commonly associated with it were intense pain in the lower back, fever and swollen extremities. Breath could be laboured and difficult while the urine might be cloudy, dark or bloody, and this was a very serious disease since it was generally untreatable.

According to some reports Harry left his widow and family penniless (Roe, 2002) although he did leave a significant legacy through son Henry who later became a renowned athletics trainer and worked with British Olympic teams. ‘Old’ Harry’s career had spanned the transition from professional to amateur athletics and his life course illustrates the adjustments that professional peds were forced to make to utilise their traditional skills within the constraints imposed on them by the emergent middle class organisations. While professional pedestrianism had long played a significant role among working class communities ‘peds’ like Harry were gradually forced into subservient roles within the sport as officials and trainers rather than competitors. At the Amateur Athletic Ground, Lillie Bridge, in June 1872 the annual athletic contests of the pupils of Kings College saw Mr Harry Andrews superintend the telegraph board and take the times and at the Inter-University meeting in 1877 a popular move was made in establishing Harry as telegraph man on the roof of the pavilion. When H.C. Sheppard won an amateur four and three-quarter miles steeplechase off a start of eight minutes in 1882 it was mainly because he had ‘put himself unreservedly into the skilled hands of the veteran Harry Andrews, who had got him very fairly fit’ (Morning Post, 17 June 1872: 2; Sporting Gazette, 24 March 1877: 279; County Gentleman, 18 February 1882: 191).

As long as men like Andrews adopted these roles willingly and behaved appropriately they could retain the respect of the middle class amateurs who were used to taking a paternalistic approach to their servants. At the annual dinner of the London Athletic Club in December 1874 the secretary said that the L.A.C was the athletic club of all England with 343 members and an annual income of £570 although it was still in need of a specialist athletics ground. In an amusing speech he later referred to Harry Andrews ‘on whose accuracy and honesty he passed a well-deserved eulogium’. At the 1875 annual dinner the Chairman referred to the ‘world-renowned sagacity of old Harry Andrews’ as well as commenting on the contrast between current London athletes and those of ten years previous (Sporting Gazette, 5 December 1874: 1140; 4 December 1875: 1200). By this time, of course, the writing was already on the wall for the professional athletes and the sport of pedestrianism.


Primary sources

Newspapers (Specific dates noted in text)

Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle; Caledonian Mercury; Carlisle Journal; County Gentleman; Daily Advertiser; Era; Horse and Hound; Lincolnshire Chronicle; Lloyds Weekly Newspaper; Morning Chronicle; Morning Post; Northampton Mercury; Observer; Otago Witness; Sheffield Daily Telegraph; Sporting Gazette; Stamford Mercury; Standard; York Herald.

1871 Census RG10 70; 1881 Census RG11/837

General Register Office, (GRO). England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. Available through;;



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