id1220-Peter Hildreth 8.7.1928 - 25.2.2011

Written by DB   


Tributes to Life Member and GB International Hurdler,Peter Hildreth who died on February 25th.

Firstly from the Club,with a link to a further remembrance from leading athletics journalist and former 5000m runner Pat Butcher;and,secondly,some poignant Memories from another firm friend of Peter's,athletics writer and broadcaster and regular announcer at veterans meetings,Alastair Aitken.


Peter Hildreth,a Life Member of Polytechnic Harriers and of Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers,who sadly died on Friday February 25th at the age of 82,was one of Great Britain’s leading athletes throughout the 1950s. He had represented his country a record number of times when he retired including 3 Olympic Games(1952,1956 & 1960) and won a European bronze medal in 1950 over his favourite 110metres Hurdles,as well as numerous AAA titles.

Educated at Ratcliffe College and Downing College,Cambridge,he became Athletics Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph and wrote a number of books on the sport,of which he was a fervent supporter.

He was a vigorous,outspoken and eloquent opponent of drugs in athletics,and was a lifelong campaigner against their use. His views based even then on his experience in international athletics in the 1950s were not always popular,but,as we all know from subsequent revelations over the last 20-30 years,he was absolutely right.

He remained very fit throughout his life and was always likely to take that extra step that others would not;witness,his being banned from his local supermarket for running UP the DOWN escalator to celebrate his 80th birthday.

He had personal bests of 14.3(5 times) over 110mH/120yH,which equalled the then British Record,24.0 over 220y Hurdles and 52.9 over the one lap event.

A fine,more fulsome tribute and appreciation of his life can be found,courtesy of leading athletics enthusiast and journalist Pat Butcher’s Blog at – - under the title “The Final Hurdle”.


Appreciation of Peter Hildreth by Alastair Aitken

Memories of Peter Hildreth

Peter was a ' Freeman of the City of London' and a Great hurdler in his day. I have a large picture of him hurdling next to Harrison Dillard, the double Olympic Champion, in the 1952 Olympic Semi-Finals in Helsinki. Of course Peter  equalled Don Finlay's British record of 14.3 several times in the 50's

I  think it was special  that he won two hurdle races at the same meeting Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile at Iffley Road Oxford in 1954.

As a Sunday Telegraph athletics correspondent,he came up to the infamous freezing 'National' at Sutton Coldfield in 1972 when I ran in the senior race. He eventually found a local phone box and filed his copy with the 'headline' words of "Napoleons' Retreat from Moscow could not be much worse than this!"

I knew him as a loyal friend for 43 years and, well after he retired from competition in the late 60's,he would time himself on running up the stairs many times in the flats we lived in in Kensington, as well as hurdling park benches and railings in Kensington Gardens, Just for the fun of it!

He was a very good dancer and would glide round the Hammersmith Palais or the Kensington Town Hall with consummate ease and his wife Carol was a witness to that.

His immense knowledge of history was quite astounding and he could quote all the Great leaders in history, particularly Churchill and Wellington so it would be no surprise to realise he achieved an MA in history at Cambridge University.

When I did information work for the BBC sound outside broadcasts in the 1970's,Peter was the link man on radio at Crystal Palace and he had a wonderfully fluent delivery of words. His timing was sharp.

To finish my tribute I would like to say when he used to come with Carol to my home for Christmas Day for several years and, after my wife Joanna made a sumptuous meal, he would  sit in the big armchair and always ask me if he could hear that song from Sinatra's album 'Where Are You' recorded in 1957 called 'There's No You'.

Maybe there isn't,but I will never forget Peter Hidlreth.

_Alastair Aitken


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