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William John Sturgess, fl. 1877-1920

As a Belgrave runner and a walker during 1892 and 1893 William John Sturgess became one of the great walkers of the time. He was born in Hungerford, Berkshire, in 1877, and at the age of 14 was apprenticed to a carpenter. William subsequently moved to London where, living in Battersea, he was employed as a wheelwright and later as a motor body builder


At the Belgrave Dinner of 25 February 1893 he took the chair opposite the Captain J. R. Mitchell and gave a rendering of "The Maid Was Young And Pretty" which was so well received that he had to give "Ju Jah" as an encore.


W. Curtis was among our leading walkers at that time and the two of them trained together.


For reasons unknown Sturgess left Belgrave Harriers for Polytechnic Harriers and went on to become the best known track walker of the age, winning eight A.A.A. Championships over the next nine years, covering seven miles in 51 mins. 27 secs. and eight miles 274 yds. in the hour.


In Polytechnic colours (although still a Belgrave member) he three times he lowered the World's best time for two miles on the track, his best being 13 mins. 24 secs. in 1897 at Putney, and twice he broke the world record for ten miles, taking it to 76 mins. 57 secs. 

Right: Sturgess is pictured on his way to a win at Reading Stadium.


Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK. Also 1881, 1891 and 1901. 

Electoral Registers. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives.

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