CAMBRIDGE HARRIERS EST. 1890
Why Cambridge? One of the first questions asked concerns the name. There is a reason for most things and, in this case, a very simple one.
From the 1870's both Oxford and Cambridge University College's began to develop 'settlements' in South London where graduates and undergraduates could live and work among the poor, devoting their time to philanthropic, educational and religious activities within the local community.
By 1884 the first settlement had been established in Walworth by St. John's College, Cambridge and soon after, in June 1885 the Clare College Mission was established within the ancient parish of St. Mary Rotherhithe.
The second Missioner was the Rev. A. Amos, a rugby blue, who took charge in 1889. He established a vigorous movement to break through the apathy to the church in the district and helped form a number of clubs and other organisations for men and boys. One of the clubs connected with the church was a cricket club named Clare College Cricket Club.
This club had a surplus of members who coundn't make the team, so a number decided to form a new club. They wanted to associate this club with the church but the name was already taken, so eventually 'Cambridge Cricket Club' was chosen. The new club became successful and popular but some members wanted the sports activities to continue into the winter months, so at the instigation of Messrs Sayers and Russell, the inagural meeting of what became Cambridge Harriers was held on 18th July 1890, with seven persons attending.
The connection with the cricket club continued for a while. Eventually the cricket club faded out, but not Cambridge Harriers and although there have been several proposals over the years to adopt a more local name, these have always been defeated.
The opening run was held on 6th October 1890 from the Tranquil Restaurant (56 Tranquil Vale) Blackheath and fifteen members turned out. Encouraged by their initial success the club decided to promote a Sports Meeting in Southwark Park on 28th March 1891 and an enormous crowd turned up to see the free show. Unfortunately, they became too enthusiastic and 'roughs' caused considerable damage, so that the meeting had to be abandoned at considerable financial loss and near-disaster for the club.
As far as has been established to date there is no direct connection with either Clare College or Cambridge University in the founding of Cambridge Harriers. The Clare College Library records contain many references to the Rev. Amos but none to the club.
If you have any more details of Cambridge Harriers history pre 1950, or any memorabilia, please contact us.
Read more on the origins of the club name