The Atlas and Guide to the London Olympics of 1908, now re-published with kind permission of Collins Bartholomew, acts as both an archival accolade of Edwardian London and a tribute to the visionaries who, unknowingly at the time, ignited a flame that would continue to burn into the next millennium, uniting nations in sport. The guide began humbly as a simple, unassuming scrapbook compiled by William Barnard which eventually came to be stored in the archives of Birmingham University, having been generously donated by the British Amateur Athletics Association (AAA). Barnard, Honorary Secretary for the Polytechnic Harriers who organised the 1908 Olympic marathon, was appointed as official timekeeper for the 1908 Olympic Games at very short notice and subsequently served as the AAA's Honorary Treasurer from 1910 until 1932. Following his experience of the ground-breaking London Olympics of 1908, Barnard began to assemble what was to become a treasured collection of personal mementoes and artefacts, the first of which was a signed portrait picture of fellow official I. B. Davidson.
The title of this book is in fact taken from Davidson's addition of "In Remembrance of the 1908 Olympics" along with his signature on the photograph. His official role of Motor and Attendants' Marshal was also as unique as it was interesting. During the historic 1908 London Olympic marathon, one famed for its epic finish, early motor cars donated by companies including Wolseley and Napier made their major sporting debut, carrying race officials, following runners along the course and picking up those unable to continue. The centrepiece to William Barnard's scrapbook, also reproduced in this book, are the original, illuminating letters of appeal compiled by Lord Desborough of Taplow, President of the British Olympic Council, who was canvassing for the financial support needed for London to successfully host the Olympics. Despite the substantial obstacles of having just 10 months to find a suitable venue, build a bespoke stadium and secure the necessary finance, he nonetheless campaigned vigorously.
With Desborough's influence - he was a consummate organiser and inspirational figurehead - all the finances were secured with just two weeks to the deadline, further aided when Lord Northcliffe, proprietor of the Daily Mail, agreed to sponsor the games and support appeals for funding via his newspaper. With the event secured, the London games of 1908 would go on to be globally significant, with the introduction of national teams, a parade at a dedicated opening ceremony, winners' medals and the construction of first - class sporting facilities chief among its innovations. The official programmes for the Olympics, a rich source of illuminating contemporary information, are also reproduced here. Travel at the time was, for many people, made possible by the large and well established railway network, with some totally reliant upon it. In the capital, the London Underground enabled visitors to explore the many sights and places of interest in the City of London with affordability and ease.
As the crowds thronged to the Olympics of 1908, a new notion of tourism was fast becoming fashionable and widespread, with its advent also in step with an increasing number of people owning a motor car, not just the privileged few. John Bartholomew, fifth in a family line of famous cartographers, saw the commercial potential in this growing leisure travel market, and began producing handy pocket sized atlases for use in navigating the rapidly expanding road network and locating London's many attractions. Much of the information from such a typical guide is republished here, giving real day-to-day insight into the mechanics of hosting the Olympics and the nature of travel at the time. After the ground-breaking games of 1908, operating under an ethos of continuous improvement and fairness, the International Olympics Committee introduced unified rules that included lanes in running events, and a requirement that officials originate from more than one country. As such, the 1908 London Olympics both reinvigorated and established the blueprint for the modern games, transforming the Olympics into the global sporting event we recognise today that is embraced the world over.
It is hoped in that reproducing many contemporary documents from 1908 its legacy can be similarly refreshed and its rich history brought to life through this book.