Although Athens 1896 is considered the first of the modern Olympic Games, prior to that there had been a series of ‘Olympic Festivals’ staged throughout Europe during the 19th century. Probably the most famous is the Much Wenlock Games which were first staged in 1850 and continue to this day, after which one of this year’s mascots is named.
One of these Olympic Festivals was held in Leicester in 1866, organised by the Leicester Athletic Society and consisting of 15 sporting events, including the One Mile race, throwing the hammer and hurdles.
One of the competitors taking part was a young apprentice to a Leicester firm of architects, Alfred Young Nutt. Born on 5 May 1847 at Barrow on the Hill, Leicestershire, he was the youngest of 15 children, who had left school at 14 to become an architectural pupil with an architect and surveyor in Leicester. In 1867 he would move to Windsor to join the Castle’s Office of Works, before taking up the post of Surveyor at St George’s Chapel in 1873, a position he held until his retirement in 1912. From 1901, he was additionally Clerk of Works.
However, the year before heading south, at the age of 19 he took part in the Leicester Festival, taking home gold medals in both the Pole Leap [now Pole Vault] and an event known as The Cricket Ball, a game which involved throwing a cricket ball as far as possible. Nutt won with an impressive 86 and a quarter yards.
Eleanor Cracknell (Assistant Archivist)