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Olympic history

Uxbridge and West Drayton have strong links with the 1948 London Olympics. What was to become the London Borough of Hillingdon was temporarily home to many nations and even a host of an Olympic event.

1948 Olympic Wembley

Uxbridge - centre for athletics

In 1948 facilities for visiting nations to camp and train in were spread around London - seven grounds or tracks were provided. In accordance with precedent the Empire Stadium at Wembley was not allowed to be used. The main athletic training centres were Uxbridge and Paddington. A special field was reserved for field events, to prevent the danger of accidents. Each nation was allowed two hours per day. Southall Athletic Ground was reserved for women.

International fencing

Three London fencing clubs were used for visiting nations to practice, one gymnasium at Uxbridge, a hall at Kingston and a school gymnasium were used, affording at least one hour of practice per team per day. This is a far cry from today's teams who stick together and have dedicated facilities in the weeks leading up to the games.

Boroughs pay to dress the town

The following London boroughs and provincial towns co-operated at their own expense in the general scheme of decoration. In most instances these boroughs decorated their public buildings with national flags and bunting.

  • The City of Westminster
  • Aldershot
  • Chelsea
  • Deptford
  • Dover
  • Hackney
  • Henley-on-Thames
  • High Wycombe
  • Islington
  • Royal Borough of Kensington
  • Southwark
  • Royal Borough of Windsor
  • Uxbridge
  • Wembley
  • West Drayton

Watch out for London 2012 street dressing in Hillingdon coming this year.

Uxbridge 1948 Olympics Logistics for athletes

Managing such an influx of people requires a lot of infrastructure. Back in 1948 a 72-hour laundry service was set up for the benefit of competitors and officials.  A tailor's shop at each of the three main London centres were set up and barbers' shops were opened at Uxbridge, West Drayton and Richmond Park. Similar facilities existed in the Aldershot and Bisley area. At the large centres, newsagents and small trading establishments were provided.

Learn more about the 2012 athletes village 

1908 marathon passed through Uxbridge

The distance run on this occasion was extended for the first time to the modern distance, ensuring that runners passed the Queen at the great stadium at White City. The marathon was also famous for its controversial winner, later disqualified for being helped to the line after collapsing 5 times.

The route took in much of modern Hillingdon.

From Windsor, the route crossed the River Thames, then pressed north through Eton and on to the market town of Slough. Here, it turned east towards London, before turning north-east to Uxbridge. This stretch was mainly rural, passing through parkland and skirting the edge of some villages, such as Iver Heath. It crossed the River Colne, and then went through Uxbridge, another market town, with a slight south-east turn, before heading north/north-east again across Uxbridge Common and on to Ruislip, Eastcote and Pinner. At Pinner, the route turned south through Harrow and Sudbury and on to the finishing point at Wembley Park.

From the point at which the trialists turned off into Wembley Park, the Olympians would continue on a wholly suburban route.

1908 Marathon Route

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 22 Sep 2017 at 10:05