Kiveton & Wales Heritage

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As the London 2012 Olympics draws nearer very few residents of Kiveton Park & Wales are aware that they had a competitor from the village that took part in the last London Olympics in 1948.Willlliam Henry Blackwell (Bill to his friends) was born on November 19th 1917 Storth Lane. He was the son of Harry and Lucy Blackwell and the Grandson of William Henry Blackwell who came to work at the new Kiveton Park colliery in the early 1870's. Bill was only 9 years old when his father Harry died and times were hard for him and his mother Lucy.












At the age of 14years Bill left school and followed his father and grandfather to work down Kiveton pit. He was a fitness fanatic and together with his friends from Kiveton Park and Harthill he formed a group based on health and fitness which had its headquarters in the old hut at the top of Harthill, they swam in Harthill ponds and did fitness displays in and around the area.

Bill Blackwell

All this time Bill hated his job down the pit and was always on the look out for something else. One day on return from a night shift down the pit he saw an advert in the Radio Times for young men to join the London Metropolitan Police. This was his chance, because of his fitness he was readily accepted. At the age of 19 years Bill left Kiveton Park to join the Metropolitan Police.

At the start of World War 2 Bill joined the Royal Air Force and saw service in Burma fighting the Japanese. After returning to the United Kingdon in 1946 Bill was demobbed.

After being demobbed Bill resumed his career in the Met Police continuing all his fitness activities which included examining for the Amateur Swimming Association and taking part in wrestling competitions. Because of his success in wrestling he was selected to take part in the 1948 London Olympics at Earls Court which took place on July 30th.

Bill Blackwell programme


This was no mean feat for a young man from a poor Kiveton Park mining family. Bill was born and grew up in Kiveton Park. He attended Wales Junior School and is on page 28 in the Centenery of Wales Junior School booklet. Many of Bills gymnastic achievements are now in the Met Police archives along with the photographs taken when he was in the police sports team. He was one of only a couple of Metropolitan Police Officers who took part in the 1948 Olympics, the Police archive department are running a display about him. Competitors in these games had to buy their own uniforms, however they were given a badge to put on the blazer they had purchased themselves. In addition to that the gymnasts were given a pair of underpants. All this is a far cry from today and possibly it was the last Olympics that were purely amateur. Bill spent his retirement in Ashford, Kent. He died in 2003 aged 86 years.


Article by B Quinton




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