C.B. Lawes Challenge Cup

Amateur Athletic Club One Mile Challenge Cup, presented by C.B. Lawes Esq.

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

The Story of the Event

From William Chinnery onwards this trophy has been presented to athletes who have defined the history of the event, in both imperial and metric form. Chinnery won the first of his three titles in 1868 and became the first amateur to run the mile in under 4½ minutes. In 1954 the next barrier of four minutes would be broken in dramatic fashion by another triple Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) champion, Roger Bannister.

The 1500m, or mile race, has traditionally been a strong event for British athletes, and it is a measure of the depth of talent that there are three British Olympic medallists at this distance who did not win this trophy: Norman Hallows bronze medallist at the 1908 London Olympics, Arnold Strode-Jackson Olympic gold medallist in Stockholm 1912, and Philip Noel-Baker silver medallist at the Antwerp Games in 1920. British athletes who have won both this trophy at the AAA Championships and Olympic medals – sometimes in the same year – include Olympic gold medallists Charles Bennett, 1900 Paris; Albert Hill, 1920 Antwerp; and Sebastian Coe, 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles. Olympic silvers have gone to Harold A. Wilson, London 1908; Jerry Cornes, Los Angeles 1932; Steve Cram, Los Angeles 1984; and Peter Elliott, Seoul 1988; with Olympic bronze for H.B. Stallard, Paris 1924 and Steve Ovett, Moscow 1980. Olympic and AAA success has also been achieved by New Zealand athletes Jack Lovelock, Olympic champion in Berlin in 1936, and Rod Dixon bronze in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The Donor

C.B. Lawes, as he appears on the trophy he donated, was the champion miler at the first Amateur Athletic Club championships, held in 1866. Sir Charles B. Lawes-Wittewronge was a successful runner at university, winning the Varsity competition between the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, first held in 1864. Contemporary press coverage noted both his flamboyant attire and the presence of an assistant with a stopwatch, who called out lap times to Lawes during the race. He and his friend, J.G. Chambers, “the architect of modern athletics” and donor of the trophy for the men’s walk, were both members of the young organising committee for the 1866 championships, along with the Earl of Jersey, donor of 5000m trophy.
Away from athletics, Lawes also competed in rowing, but was best known as a sculptor, working from studios around Chelsea Bridge on pieces such as the Death of Dirce, now in the collections of Tate Britain. His work appeared in exhibitions at the Royal Academy and around the country, and he developed his organisational skills as a committee member for international exhibitions in Paris and Rome and the Coronation Exhibition held just before his death in 1911. In the 1870s Lawes employed the sculptor Richard Belt, an association which was to have unfortunate consequences; the two were involved in a court case over the originality of Belt’s work, as a result of which Lawes was declared bankrupt in 1884, although he continued his work as a sculptor and administrator until his death.

Athletics trophy, decorated silver cup with two thin handles and high, fitted lid.
Photo credit: Ruth Brennan

History of the Trophy

AAA champions in the mile received this trophy from 1880, when the trophies previously awarded to the winners of the AAC’s championship were inherited from J.G. Chambers. The event was run as the mile until 1968, from 1969-1995 AAA 1500m champions were awarded the trophy, except for 1980, when the race reverted to one mile for a year. From 2010 the trophy has been presented to the winner of the England Senior Championships 1500m; since 2015 the event has reverted to the classic distance of the mile. 

Previous Winners*

1866 C.B. Lawes1897 A. Tysoe1930 R. Thomas1967 A. Green
1867 S.G. Scott1898 H. Welsh1931 R. Thomas1968 J. Whetton
1868 W.M. Chinnery1899 H. Welsh1932 J. Cornes1969 F. Murphy
1869 W.M. Chinnery1900 C. Bennett1933 R. Thomas1970 W. Wilkinson
1870 R.H. Benson1901 F. Cockshott1934 J. Lovelock1971 T. Polhill
1871 W.M. Chinnery1902 J. Binks1935 S. Wooderson1972 P. Stewart
1872 C.H. Mason1903 A. Shrubb1936 S. Wooderson1973 R. Dixon
1873 W. Slade1904 A. Shrubb1937 S. Wooderson1974 T. Waldrop
1874 W. Slade1905 G. Butterfield1938 S. Wooderson1975 D. Malan
1875 W. Slade1906 G. Butterfield1939 S. Wooderson1976 R. Dixon
1876 W. Slade1907 G. Butterfield1946 D. Wilson1977 E. Coghlan
1877 W. Slade1908 H. Wilson1947 S. Garay1978 D. Moorcroft
1878 A.F. Hills1909 E. Owen1948 B. Nankeville1979 S. Ovett
1879 B.R. Wise1910 E. Voigt1949 B. Nankeville1980 S. Ovett (Mile)
1880 W.G. George1911 D. McNicol1950 B. Nankeville1981 S. Cram
1881 B.R. Wise1912 E. Owen1951 R. Bannister1982 S. Cram
1882 W.G. George1913 J. Zander1952 B. Nankeville1983 S. Cram
1883 W. Snook1914 G. Hutson1953 R. Bannister1984 P. Elliott
1884 W.G. George1915 – No Championship1954 R. Bannister1985 M. O’Sullivan
1885 W. Snook1918 (European War)1955 B. Hewson1986 J. Gladwin
1886 Tom E. Nalder1919 A. Hill1956 K. Wood1987 S. Crabb
1887 F.J. K. Cross1920 A. Burtin1957 B. Hewson1988 P. Elliott
1888 T.P. Conneff1921 A. Hill1958 G. Everett1989 S. Coe
1889 J. Kibblewhite1922 D. McPhee1959 K. Wood1990 N. Horsfield
1890 J. Kibblewhite1923 H. Stallard1960 L. Tábori1991 M. Yates
1891 J. Kibblewhite1924 W. Seagrove1961 M. Bernard1992 K. McKay
1892 Harold Wade1925 B. McDonald1962 S. Taylor1993 Matthew Yates
1893 F.E. Bacon1926 G. Baraton1963 A. Simpson1994 K. McKay
1894 F.E. Bacon1927 C. Ellis1964 A. Simpson1995 J. Mayock
1895 F.E. Bacon1928 C. Ellis1965 A. Simpson 
1896 B. Lawford1929 C. Ellis1966 J. Camien 
2010 Nick McCormick2013 C. O’ Hare2016 A. Tovey
2011 James Brewer2014 C. Da’Vall Grice2017 J. Davies
2012 S. Mitchell2015 N. Goolab2018 J. Brown
  2019 G. Mills

*N.B. Names are as recorded on the trophy and are not always as recorded elsewhere.  The elaborate font recording the donor’s name caused this trophy to be incorrectly known as the C.B. Davies trophy for many years, despite the fact that Lawes was also recorded on the trophy as its first winner.