Arthur Wharton Foundation Celebration

Blog post by Shaun Campbell (5 minute read) – Saturday 3rd July 2021

Arthur Wharton World Record

Today marks the 135th anniversary of a remarkable day in history.

On 3rd July, 1886, Arthur Wharton became the worlds first official fastest man on the planet. The 100 yard World Record was set which stood for over 30 years.

The Arthur Wharton Foundation Celebration Video is in commemoration of that historic day.

The video is introduced by way of a short video to the first verse of ‘Song for Arthur’, written by James ‘Jimmy Blue’ Emmerson, from Darlington.

Produced by yours truly, sung by the great Ruby Turner MBE and accompanied by Jazz Pianist Dean Stockdale (also from Darlington), the music and lyrics are set against the back drop of the filming of the now iconic Mural of Arthur Wharton in Darlington.  This video production was kindly put together for us, by our friends and allies, at BT Sport.

So Remember The Name:   “ARTHUR WHARTON”

World Record at Stamford Bridge

Competing under the banner of Darlington Cricket Club, Arthur travelled to Stamford Bridge, London (now historic home to Chelsea Football Club) to compete in the AAA National Championships. He won his 100yds heat by six yards and only half an hour later, in front of 2000 people, lined up for the final.

He won by a yard from Charles Wood who was half a yard in front of Frank Richie. By reaching the tape first the Arthur Wharton secured the Prince Hassan Cup worth £50, first presented in 1871. Arthur’s winning time of 10 seconds made him the talking point of the day. Incredible that this time had been achieved in BOTH heat and final – on the same afternoon – added further stature to this speed phenomenon.

A contemporary report helps us capture what was seen as an exotic and fantastic occasion on account of Arthur’s participation. Although it self-consciously respects Arthur’s “otherness” it at the same time illustrates the growing (and sadly continuing) habit of assuming different physiological attributes in people of colour.

Wharton is a gentleman from very sunny climes, and by no means a representative Englishman in appearance. If not a champion to look at, he is an extremely good one to go, and his colonial exhibition is very fine … he has a long, low stride, he does not seem to get on his toes in the style to which we are accustomed. I make some allowance for optical illusion, because on Saturday he wore untanned or unblacked [shoes] … of a brown some shades lighter than his complexion. These arrangements in colour caused the observer who was not very sharp to believe that the man was running barefoot, whereas he had merely fitted himself with nearly flesh-coloured pumps … His style of running is associated with men of colour, who as a rule have a good deal of heel. Wharton is a brunette of pronounced complexion …

source: Darlington and Stockton Times, 17th July 1886

Arthur Wharton - black and white photo
Arthur Wharton – Fastest man in the World

The Prince Hassan Pacha Cup

For a number of years this revered, now iconic trophy remained hidden in the basement of an athletics official. I remember the very day when I found that historic Prince Hassan Pacha Cup which Arthur won in 1886, and again in 1887. It was a ‘hallelujah’ moment. It was deeply touching on an emotional level…because it also brought me personally closer to the great man himself.

It was a great find of an incredibly important piece of sporting history, not just for the Foundation, but also for England Athletics, the AAA and the IAAF. 

In partnership with the Foundation, England Athletics announced this great find at their annual Hall of Fame Awards 2015, and invited me to speak on this very poignant, and significant occasion. There, behind me, on stage, was the very cup itself.

Historic winners followed Arthur

Emblazoned upon it, alongside Arthur’s name, were the names of all of those that had won it since, including; Linford Christie, Don Quarry, Alan Wells, Reggie Walker, Harold Abrams and Eric Liddle  (the latter two of the film Chariots of Fire) – distinguished company indeed!

To find out more about all of those historic winners of the AAA and National Championship Medallists, in the 100 yards / 100 metres, you can visit National Union of Track Statisticians or this great article Arthur Wharton: First and fastest – written by Chris Lloyd, Northern Echo.

Usain Bolt connects to Arthur Wharton

In 2019, I had the great honour to connect Usain Bolt to this historic trophy, in a meeting at Chelsea Harbour Hotel, London. To see Usain Bolt holding the very same trophy that Arthur Wharton held, was a very special moment. Connecting the current 100m/200m World Record holder (Usain) and the first 100yd World Record holder (Arthur), through the trophy, is another example of the Foundation’s motto….“Connect the Present, to the Past, for the Future”.

Usain Bolt and Shaun Campbell – Arthur Wharton #1

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