Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)ATH/GA
TitlePapers of George Adam
Extent11 standard boxes (comprising 19 volumes, 23 files, 440 items and 1 trophy)
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)


DescriptionPersonal papers compiled by the athlete, coach and administrator George Adam. The collection includes a substantial number of athletics programmes, many focusing on events held in Yorkshire. There are also a number of publications created by various athletics organisations and clubs; correspondence; scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings; and personalia. There is some material relating to Olympic Games, including the 1948 London Games in which George Adam acted as an official.

Taken as a whole the collection is a valuable research tool for athletics historians, especially those with an interest in the history and development of athletics in northern England, particularly in Yorkshire.

The personal papers of Joe Percy also include material relating to athletics in northern England, specifically Yorkshire, during much of the 20th century. See: ATH/JWP
NotesOld reference: NCAL XXV.A5
ArrangementThese papers have been arranged into the following 6 series:

athletics programmes and related ephemera;
results and standards;
papers relating to specific athletics organisations;
correspondence and related papers;
scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings;
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 of this catalogue is also available for consultation in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionFilm reels cannot be issued to researchers in their current format.
Creator NameAdam, George Mair (1898-1989), athlete, coach and athletics administrator
Administrative HistoryGeorge Mair Adam was born in Doncaster on 19 January 1898. He attended the Corporation Schools, Hyde Park, Doncaster between 1903 and 1911 and was then employed as an apprentice clock repairer. Shortly afterwards he became an apprentice fitter and turner at Doncaster Plant Works, working for the Great Northern Railway (GNR). He worked at the Plant Works from 1912 until retirement in 1963. His involvement with senior athletics began in 1916. There were no facilities available in Doncaster and so he travelled to Bradford every weekend to compete in various races for Airedale Harriers. As a youth he mixed athletics with football, swimming and angling. He ran with his brother Alan at many sports meetings, mainly handicaps. He and Alan joined Airedale Harriers in 1918 and took part in a 'Victory Race' cross-country meeting at Leeds. As an employee of the GNR Company's Plant Works he became one of the founder members of the GNR Harriers in October 1920 at Eden Grove, Doncaster. The Harriers later became Doncaster Plant Works Athletic Club (DPWAC).

Under George's captaincy DPWAC regularly performed well in the Yorkshire and Northern Counties Cross-Country Championships. By 1925 the club introduced track and field events. George Adam was a notable cross-country runner at county level but soon established himself as a hurdler and at 35 he won the Eastern Region Railway 120 yards hurdles title. Lord Burghley, a director of the line, awarded the trophy. George Adam developed a full range of facilities described by Geoff Dyson, later to become Britain's Chief National Coach, 'an oasis in an athletic wilderness'. He served as Honorary Secretary of DPWAC for 41 years and set up a club coaching structure, introduced new methods of fitness training and specialist techniques.

The first success under George Adam's coaching in field events came in 1934 when Frank Phillipson won an AAA pole vault championship with a height of 3.73 metres. Further successes followed and at one time the club held 25 championships: 11 British Railways, 2 Yorkshire Schools, 3 Yorkshire County, 3 Northern Counties, AAA, Empire and European awards. Les Pinder, Brian Shenton and Arthur Rowe all benefited from George Adam's coaching techniques.

George was a Field Event Judge at the 1948 London Olympic Games and also at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games. At the 1948 Olympics he recalled holding a torch to enable to decathlon competitors to throw the javelin in the days before flood-lighting. He was Team Manager of the British Railways Athletic Team in 1947, 1956 and 1957. He organised a 10 day tour of Germany in 1956 when DPWAC competed against German Federal Railways and the sporting clubs of Weiden, Nurnburg and Munich. He acted as coach, team manager, results recorder and judge for some 50 athletes and officials. The sequel saw the return visit of the German clubs to Doncaster in 1958 organised, again, by George.

Throughout his athletics career, George worked on developing athletics equipment including a portable shot circle which enabled the event to be brought in front of the crowds at Crystal Palace. He made bar-lifting and measuring equipment for pole vault that made step ladders obsolete and also designed the first hammer in the world with 'unbreakable' stranded wire. Over many decades he invented, developed and improved much athletics equipment including: 'Optical Measuring Set' for use with javelin, discus and hammer; 'Telescopic Bar Lifter' for use with pole vault, eliminating the need for step ladders; 'Patent Clip'; 'Steeplechase Hurdle'; 'Cushioned Landing Platform' for pole vault, replacing the turfed mound; 'Safety Cage' for use with the hammer; 'Portable Circular Platform' for use with shot and discus; 'Stranded Wire Throwing Hammer'; and various handmade instruments for checking field events equipment including contour gauges, cord gauges and gravity gauges.

He was actively involved in athletics even after his 90th birthday. Through him Doncaster became a centre of excellence for athletics, especially during the 1950s. As a long serving official he encountered Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams; Roger Bannister; and Seb Coe. He was associated with Doncaster Plant Works Athletic Club for nearly 70 years. He was Club Captain, 1925-1933 and Honorary Secretary, 1933-1974. He held a number of other positions including a member of Sheffield and District Committee of Northern Counties Athletic Association (NCAA), 1945; member of the AAA General Committee, 1950-1988; Chairman of Sheffield and District Committee of NCAA, 1953-1955; Vice-President of the Executive Committee of NCAA, 1955-1959; President of the Yorkshire Cross-Country Association, 1955; President of the NCAA, 1960; President of the NCAA Cross-Country Association, 1969; Chairman of the Counties Athletic Union, 1971; Life Vice-President of AAA, 1973-1988; and Equipment Officer for NCAA, 1978-1988. He received numerous awards throughout his career including British Railways Sportsman of the Year, 1966; the AAA 'Award of Honour' in 1979; and the Council of Yorkshire and Humberside's Service to Sport Award, 1985.

George married Elizabeth Cooper in 1931. The couple had no children and Elizabeth died in 1956. George died in December 1989.

Sources: papers of George Adam
Custodial HistoryThis collection was previously in the custody of the National Centre for Athletics Literature (NCAL).
Archival NotePapers arranged and described by Mark Eccleston, December 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;
Humphrey, David (b 1933), athlete: papers, 1944-1958. Finding No: ATH/DH;
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.


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