Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)ATH/DC
TitlePapers of Dennis Cullum
Extent5 standard boxes (comprising 13 volumes, 3 files and 263 items)
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)


DescriptionPersonal papers compiled by the athlete and coach, Dennis Cullum. The collection includes a significant number of programmes, including a number for various track and field events which Dennis himself competed; material relating to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, with a number of items from the 1958 Cardiff Games; results and statistics; various publications collected by Dennis; correspondence; and a small about of personalia including Dennis' membership certificate for the London Athletic Club.

Much material relates to Dennis' interests in field events, especially hammer throwing, and many of the programmes included in this collection feature throwing events.
NotesFormer Reference: DC
ArrangementThese papers have been arranged into the following six series:

athletics programmes;
papers relating to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games;
results and statistics;
published material collected by Dennis Cullum;
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Creator NameCullum, Dennis Noel Johnson (1913-1985), athlete and coach
Administrative HistoryDennis Noel Johnson Cullum, born 1913, was a respected athlete, specialising in field events, but is perhaps better known for his success as a hammer throwing coach. He was a Grade Two field events referee and was one of the first AAA senior hammer coaches, at one time coaching the majority of British hammer throwers including Howard Payne, Mike Ellis, Peter Allday, Don Anthony, Alec Valentine, Warwick Dixon, Laurie Hale (Wales) and various juniors. He was also a special coaching organiser and a one-time lecturer at the AAA Summer School.

He had been introduced to the hammer by John Freeborn, of the Achilles Club, who had made his one and only appearance in the event for Great Britain in 1925 at the age of 37. Cullum's coaching philosophy was straightforward and based on technique, rhythm and mental qualities, pragmatically applied. Explaining his methods in 1955, he said: 'I also try to reproduce in training the conditions likely to be met in competition, as it is no good an athlete training to produce his best throw after 20 warming-up throws. At the White City he might not get the opportunity for a warm-up throw at all'.

Internal evidence indicates that during the mid-1930s he reported on athletics meetings for The Sunday Express. He was elected a member of the London Athletic Club on 21 February 1939. The Second World War temporarily ended his sporting career and Dennis served with the Royal Army Service Corps, rising to the rank of Major. Upon his return from the war, he became a member of the AAA coaching committee between 1948-1957. On a rented field near to his home, he offered dedicated training to young athletes most weekends. He also drove many competitors to athletics meetings at his own cost and has been described as one of 'the army of volunteers who kept the sport going even at the highest level'. Harrow Council minutes from 1946 include a reference to a rejected application from Dennis for permission to use Montesole Playing Fields for 'the sports of throwing the discus and hammer'.

Dennis was still competiting in hammer throwing events during the late 1940s and won the Southern Counties' title in 1947 and 1948. During 1953, at the age of 40, he set a personal best of 51.25m. He was an announcer at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff. He was also, for many years, an announcer at White City Stadium. In later life he was a Vice-President of the London Athletic Club and was also former President and Chairman of the Coaching Committee for Hertfordshire AAA. He was a founder and past President of The Hammer Circle alongside Peter Allday, Don Anthony, Charles Reidy, Don Vanhegan, Frank Gandy and Dennis Moore. The Hammer Circle was a timely innovation: at the time throwing events were regarded as tedious, dangerous and sometimes slightly comic. Dennis' commitment and dedication to the sport meant that the 'Cullum Circus' would often tour numerous athletics meetings after having persuaded promoters to include hammer events on the understanding that the throwers would also mark out the area, judge the event, record it, announce it and repair holes in the turf afterwards.

In his professional life, Dennis was Director of the London Instrument Company in Cambridge for nine years and was closely connected with the development of Cantabrian International Athletic equipment. After 1967 Dennis left Cambridge for Exeter and this appears to have ended his athletics and coaching career. He trained to be a Physical Education teacher, completing a one-year course at Loughborough College. This was to be a short-lived career change and Dennis returned to engineering: 'I couldn't work in a profession which displays such pathetic deference' he is alleged to have said.

Dennis presented a cup to The Hammer Circle on the ocassion of its 21st birthday, in September 1973. In 1980 he suggested the cup should be used as an annual award to the junior member achieving the longest competitive throw of the year. In yet another presentation he donated a framed photograph of Litvinov which had been presented to him by Howard Payne in gratitude to his former coach.

Dennis married Doris Thomas, known as Tommy, in Harrow in 1958. His step-son, Barry Thomas, was a Great British 'B' International for throwing events.

Sources: papers of Dennis Cullum; The Hammer Circle website accessed 27 August 2014 from and; Harrow Council minutes accessed 27 August from; 'Athletic Revolutionaries' by Don Anthony accessed 27 August from
Custodial HistoryThis collection was previously in the custody of the National Centre for Athletics Literature (NCAL).
Archival NotePapers arranged and described by Mark Eccleston, August 2014, in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; and in-house cataloguing guidelines.
Related MaterialOther archive collections, formerly held as part of the National Centre for Athletics Literature (NCAL), are catalogued as collections distinct from this collection. They comprise both institutional archives and collections of personal papers of athletes, athletics administrators, journalists and others associated with the athletics world.

Catalogues of the institutional archives available on the online archive catalogue are as follows:
Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1880-1992. Finding No: ATH/AAA;
English Cross-Country Union: papers, 1911-1989. Finding No: ATH/ECCU;
Midland Counties Amateur Athletics Association: papers, 1900-1991. Finding No: ATH/MCAAA;
Midland Counties Cross Country Association: papers, 1898-1985. Finding No: ATH/MCCCA;
Midland Counties Women's Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1949-[1980s]. Finding No: ATH/MCWAAA;
Northern Counties Women's Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1933-1989. Finding No: ATH/NCWAAA;
Northern Cross-Country Association: papers, 1906-1983. Finding No: ATH/NCCA;
Northern Women's Track and Field League: papers, 1982-1983. Finding No: ATH/NWTFL;
Southern Counties Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1958-1983. Finding No: ATH/SCAAA;
Southern Counties Cross-Country Association: papers, 1911-1990. Find No: ATH/SCCCA;
The Sports Council: papers, [1940s]-2001. Finding No: ATH/SC;
Women's Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1932-1989. Finding No: ATH/WAAA.

Catalogues of personal papers available on the online archive catalogue are as follows:
Abrahams, Harold Maurice (1899-1978), athlete, administrator, commentator and journalist: papers, 1902-1989. Finding No: ATH/HA;
Adam, George Mair (1898-1989), athlete, coach and athletics administrator: papers, 1909-1989. Finding No: ATH/GA;
Binks, Joseph (Joe) (1874-1966), athlete and athletics commentator: papers, [1920s-1950s]. Finding No: ATH/JB;
Brown, Audrey Kathleen (nee Court) (1913-2005), athlete: papers, [1930s]-2005. Finding No: USS22;
Cardew, Martin H. (b 1927), athlete: papers, 1964-1988. Finding No: ATH/MHC;
Cullum, Dennis Noel Johnson (1913-1985), athlete and coach: papers, [1930s]-1985. Finding No: ATH/DC;
Ives, Bert (1890-1975), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, [1920s-1970s]. Finding No: ATH/BI;
Jarvis, Walter (c 1888-c 1935), athlete: papers, 1910-1996. Finding No: MS4;
Jewell, John Christopher (1912-2001), athlete and athletics commentator: papers, 1897-2002. Finding No: ATH/JJ;
Lloyd-Edgley, Ralph: scrapbook, [c 1924]-[c 1931]. Finding No: ATH/RLE;
MacLean, Duncan (1884-1980), athlete and coach: papers, 1948-1977. Finding No: ATH/DM;
Monk, Walter Harry (Wal) (1896-after 1965), athlete: papers, 1918-1961. Finding No: ATH/WHM;
Morgan, Wilf (b 1935), athlete and athletics historian: papers, 1937-2012. Finding No: ATH/WM;
Newton, Arthur Francis Hamilton (1883-1959), athlete: papers, [c 1904]-[1990s]. Finding No: ATH/AN;
Payne, Howard (1931-1992), athlete: papers, 1899-[c 1975]. Finding No: ATH/HP;
Percy, Joe W. (1912-2001), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, 1910-1997. Finding No: ATH/JWP;
Perry, George (b 1903), athlete: papers, [1920s]-1956. Finding No: ATH/GP;
Powell, Edgar Robert Leslie (Peter), (fl 1920s-70s), athlete: papers, 1813-1988. Finding No: ATH/ERLP;
Richards, Wilf (b 1906), athlete and journalist: papers, 1924-[mid 20th century]. Finding No: ATH/WR;
Roberts, Dave (fl 1930s-1990s), athlete and statistician: papers, [1930s]-1991. Finding No: ATH/DR;
Simpson, Colin J. (1929-2011), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, 1945-1990. Finding No: ATH/CS;
Tatham, Wilfrid George (Gus) (1898-1978), athlete: papers, 1908-1960. Finding No: ATH/WGT;
Thomas, Dr Philip, athletics administrator and coach: papers, [c 1900]-[late 20th century]. Finding No: ATH/PT;
Vargas, Charles Climaco (1905-1975), athlete: papers, 1921-31. Finding No: ATH/CCV;
Ward, Leonard H., athletics coach: papers, [mid-20th century]. Finding No: ATH/LW;
Watman, Melvyn Francis (Mel) (b 1938), athletics journalist and statistician: papers, 1980-1993. Finding No: ATH/MW;
Wight, Robert M., athletics administrator: papers, [mid-20th century]. Finding No: ATH/RW;
Winter, Arthur E. H. (d 1990), athlete and athletics commentator: papers, [early 20th century]-1983. Finding No: ATH/AW;
Yarrow, Squire Stevens (1905-1984), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, 1938-1984. Finding No: ATH/SY.
Associated MaterialsImperial War Museum, Archon Code: 62 (piece of marble from wall of Hitler's chancelory [sic]. From Ex-Major D. N. J. Cullum)


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