Harriers History 1891-1899

Harriers History 1891-1899

Thomas 'Tom' Henry Mountford 1861-1939 and his brother Charles Mountford 1864 -1931 were co-founders of the Harriers with Robert Eden. Both brothers were very keen sportsman throughout their lives. As well as athletics in their younger days they both played for Darlington Rugby Club, Charles also played cricket for Darlington and was actively involved in this club too becoming club president. Thomas was also a member of Darlington Cycling Club and he even did a bit of boxing too!

Thomas was still competing in athletic events in later life coming back to Darlington and won the 100 yard Veteran Race at Darlington Sports, possibly at the Cricket ground. In total he won about 40 prizes and once ran in his younger days the 100 yards in 10 3/5 second(as stated in the Boots Company magazine commemorating his retirement in 1932)

Their father George Mountford 1825-1913 was also a keen sportsman and was a vice president of the Harriers in the early years. In a 1905 article commemorating his diamond wedding anniversary it was stated he had been made a life member of the Harriers.

The Mountford family were a very sporting family and  Charles's son Reginald 'Reg' Charles Mountford went on to become a professional footballer. After playing for Darlington he signed for Huddersfield and spent the rest of his career with the club which included playing in the first fully televised F.A Cup final. He then moved to Denmark to manage one of their teams before becoming Denmark's Head Coach. He took the team to the 1948 Olympic Games beating the Great Britain side to win the bronze medal.

Thomas later worked for Boots in Nottingham from 1892-1932 becoming an Architectural Surveyor and worked closely with Jesse Boot (who turned his fathers chemist shop to the largest Chain of chemist shops in the U.K). Whilst at Boots he spent a lot of his free time organising staff sporting events.  There is also a reference to thomas in Phil Vasili book : Arthur Wharton - the first black footballer.

Apparently Arthur had ducked under the tape instead of running through it and would have been disqualified had it not been my Thomas who was in second place and insisted Arthur should win  (after all it was only a technicality). Neverthless it was lovely to learn of this example of sportsmanship shown by Thomas. There is a cartoon strip on the Arthur Wharton foundation depicting this incident. Thomas later formed a sprint team and Arthur was part of the team.

Thomas Mountford

Charles Mountford (far right) at Darlington R.A Cricket Club.

1891 - 1889

First AGM of the newly formed Darlington Harriers Club, 1892

The Black Bull Hotel, a regular establishment for the club's AGM.  This is now next to the Pennyweight and is situated on the market square

 North Star, 20th March 1893 - 3 Mile handicap race, Stones storming to victory

North Star, March 1893. End of year prize giving

January 15th 1894 - 3rd year Annual dinner

January 22nd 1894 - club championship run

July 1894 - even back in 1890's the club was promoting health and fitness

26th April 1895 - 4th year club championship review

Beautiful gilt pen and ink stand with the inscription "One Mile Foot Race James Blenkhorn Darlington June 1st 1895 Time 4 Minutes 27 Seconds."

January 1896 - 5th year Annual dinner

Tea Service presented to James 'Jim' Blenkhorn in 1896 which was awarded to him for a one mile flat race which apparently he won in a time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds a good time even by today's standards. Interestingly the race was held in Brotton; which is on the coast between Saltburn and Loftus some way out of Darlington.

Darlington Harriers 1897-1898 - Used with permission from the Centre for Local Studies at Darlington Library’.  Thomas Mountford can be seen 5th from the left smoking a pipe.

January 1897

11th August 1897, 6th year Annual dinner

16th October 1898, 7th year Annual dinner

A solid gold medal from North Eastern Counties Cross Country Association inscribed "Senior J Blenkhorn 1898." Now sits proudly with his grandson Jim Blenkhorn. 

His grandson was led to believe that he stopped racing when he was leant on more than once to throw a race for money! Apparently, in those days, illegal bets were placed at these athletic meetings which were held all over the North of England and his Grandfather was very good at running and winning hence the pressure being applied to him to make him throw a race.

Some other items such as clocks, silver trays, medals and one sideboard still exist in his family. 

Another Darlington Harriers medal from the late 1800's won by James, this one presented for the Poole Cup Team Race

Both James and his wife Nelly are buried in the graveyard of the church of St Cuthbert in Forcett village, just outside Darlington

Fleece Hotel Blackwellgate, Darlington, the venue for the Harriers dinner.  Unfortunately the Hotel was demolished in the late 1960's/early 1970's 

10th November 1898

December 2nd 1898 - The North Star

Hole in the Wall Darlington public house in Darlington's market square remembers club legend George Butterfield. After running the International Cross Country Championship in 1906, George Butterfield won the Northern title at 440 yard and 1 mile that summer.  He was the winner of the AAA mile title for three successive years (1904-06) with his winning time of 4:18.4 in 1906 topping the world rankings for the year.

In the early stages of his career he excelled as a distance runner, finishing 2nd in the 1904 AAA 10 miles but he later proved to be a talented half miler.  In 1908 he could not quite produce his form of earlier years at the Olympic Games. He was killed in action while serving as a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery.

Personal Bests

800m 1.57.2 (1906) 1500 4.11.8 (1908)

Read more about George here


George Butterfield and his family

Northern Echo coverage of the plaque being added to the Hole in the Wall pub outside wall to mark the great man

Joy Grieveson in action  Joy who had a personal 400m best of 53.12 which she achieved in 1963.  Joy also won a silver medal at the European Championships in 1962 as well as competing in Commonwealth and Olympic Games for Great Britain.

We have also produced numerous club representatives at International, National, Regional, County, Town, School and Club levels.

The main body of our senior athletes run on the roads and country but the junior athletes compete in numerous league competitions, both on the track and cross country, and compete regularly throughout the country.