Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets Athletics Club

Friendly east London club for athletes of all abilities


Ken Marsh

Ken sent the following to the club in September 2016.

It was after WW2 that I became a member of VPH.....from about 1947 to 1951. The clubhouse then was in Victoria Park and as I lived nearby in Bow it was a short walk to the track. I can remember training on Saturday mornings and seeing Gordon Everson and Derek Bareford around, as well as many others.

I recall obtaining two 5 shilling tickets to the 1948 Olympics at the old Wembley from the club and seeing Arthur Wint win the 400 metres, beating Herb McKenley, while Malvin Whitfield beat Arthur Wint in the 800 metres!

During the week I sometimes ran on the road, around the Hackney Wick Triangle, with the Flowers brothers and Geoff Iden, who were frequent competitors in the Boston Marathon in the US in those days, they running about 15 miles a training session while I ran six miles!

As there were no showers a tin bath of hot water sufficed to get us ALL clean!

I did compete in several road races and cross country for the club prior to National Service and do have a picture of myself in one of those road races.

I was drafted into National Service in Dec 1951 and later sent to HQ BAOR where, after competing in the annual HQ Track and Field mile that season, getting off daily parade, I continued training on Saturday mornings at the local track in Bad Oenhausen and ran around the local park at 6 am every morning, getting a wash-down in the communal washroom (there were no showers) before heading for breakfast. I did represent HQ BAOR in the cross-country team of 1952, which finished 8th out of about 20 teams.

I recall the 1952 Olympics in which Geoff Iden ran for GB and finished 8th, while Emil Zatopek ground Jim Peters, the then World Marathon record holder, into the ground with his fast-slow running and psychology to win the Marathon.

I attended Engineering studies at the School of Engineering, High Street, Poplar, from 1948 to 1951, obtaining an ONC prior to being drafted into National Service. On demobilisation , which delayed studies for 3 years, I continued Engineering studies at SEN, which became Poplar Technical College and later Tower Hamlets College (no longer teaching Engineering) and obtained a HNC and subsequently added extra qualifications at the Regent Street Polytechnic annex of London University (now Westminster University and no longer teaching Engineering) to gain professional Engineering status.

I did continue running in the evening, after evening classes, though not with the club as studies intervened and took precedence.

After being employed by the LCC Mechanical Engineering Dept and later Head Wrightson, Kellogg International, Fluor, Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox in UK it was In 1966 I emigrated to Canada with my family, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1971, and being employed at many well-known engineering companies (Montreal Engineering, Babcock & Wilcox Canada, SNC, Lummus, Fluor, Bechtel, AECL, ADM, ) and becoming a Certified Engineering Technologist with OACETT (Ontario Association of Technicians and Technologists) in 1971 .....and to finally retire from engineering in 1992... But getting involved in many subjects and areas not previously possible since then, such as photography, languages, oil painting, and some others!

I was given a Lifetime Membership to OACETT after serving as Editorial Director for its Magazine, "The Technologist" for two years and helping the then Editor set up its financial independence...... To continue publication to this day.

It was on checking the history of VPH, now VPH and THAC, on the Internet that I discovered the references to names I had once known and trained with and that Ted Flowers is a Life Vice President, prompting me to write this reference to the past.

I am currently 83 years of age and quite healthy, thanks to all that early running, and reside in Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario, and still follow Track and Field in the many current global events.

Incidentally, I did learn how to ice-skate at the age of 42......after teaching my daughters how to skate....and found it a most exhilarating exercise; to be recommended!

Patience, persistence, tenacity, pay dividends and benefits!