Leaving Lockdown

How did the Championships recover on the last occasion it was forced to take a break? The association went into lockdown during World War II after the successful 1939 Championships at Loughborough, where 777 competitors from 22 counties had competed. Against a backdrop of rebuilding and rationing, a crowd of 7000 watched 850 athletes at the 1946 Championships held in Eton, resulting in a £600 profit for ESAA.

Image credit: ESAA archive

The language used in the annual report makes clear the challenges that ESAA faced after World War II. We read that the Dorset association had to be ‘resuscitated’. Eastern counties, such as Norfolk and Kent, vividly described the realities of wartime life; “in this front-line county…any form of outdoor sports was almost impossible” and “life in Bomb Alley had not been easy, and removals, retirements and evacuation made it difficult to get in touch with old-timers”. Wiltshire opted not to include hurdles in their 1946 championships “for reasons such as lack of equipment, and to give more time for training.”