An OB at the Berlin Olympics

Posted by Berkhamsted Admin on 05 Apr 2023

Modified by Berkhamsted Admin on 04 Mar 2024

Alan Pennington

Alan Pennington was born on the 4th May, 1916 and came to Berkhamsted school as a boarder in St John’s House. His list of achievements in school sport and particularly athletics, run off his record card (excuse the pun.) He was an outstanding sprinter and at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he shared a track with the great Jesse Owens. The race picture shows Pennington lining up next to Jesse Owens (far left) in the 100metres qualifying heat in Berlin.

PENNINGTON Alan Next to Jesse Owens


Meeting book comp

Whilst searching through the catalogue records, for references to Pennington, the Games Committee minutes books flashed up. Reading through the minutes for a meeting held in March, 1935, it records that Pennington proposed that the Victor Ludorum system be dropped, so as to limit the number of events any boy could take part in. It also states that letters backing his proposal were produced for the committee to read. Stuck to the opposite page were the two typed, unremarkable looking, folded pieces of correspondence. The letters were from from Guy Butler, three times Olympic competitor and gold medal winner in the 4x400m relay at the 1920 Antwerp Games and Harold Abrahams (Chariots of Fire) who won gold in the 100metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics.






A group of people from the Summerstown 182 project, who had been corresponding for quite a few months with the archive, arrived on 17th June, to tour the school and to see the name of Francis Maurice Taylor, Incents 1913, on the OBs Roll of Honour.

Lieut.Taylor was killed carrying back a wounded soldier, in the face of terrible machine gun fire, the date was 16th July, 1916. The wounded soldier’s name was Private Sidney Seager and he wrote a very poignant letter to his Mother telling her that he was injured and in hospital and owed his life to the Lieutenant. For this she must have been extremely grateful, having already lost all three of Sidney’s brothers.

By pure coincidence, one of the group of visitors, Mr K.Kelly, had a collection of athletics records, which mentioned Alan Pennington and he kindly agreed to scan them through for the archive collection.

Programme only comp

                   A programme for the School’s Sports Day, held over two days in the Castle grounds. Alan Pennington won eight of the events. 

The school's Athletics team with their haul of trophies c.1934. Alan Pennington is seated centre, behind the silverware.

Athletics team



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