Bolton School Former Pupils

Chris Goudge

Chris Goudge (1949-1954) was a suberb athlete who represented Great Britain in the 400m hurdles at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Whilst a pupil in the Boys’ Division, Chris played the clarinet, was a member of The Orchestral Society and was Secretary of the Philatelic Society. However, it was on the sports field that he enjoyed his greatest successes.

The Athletics Report in the July 1950 edition of The Boltonian states that ‘Class A was dominated by three boys – MD Crompton, FA Rushton and CE Goudge’. This early promise was acknowledged in the 1951 edition thus: ‘It was noted at last sports day that CE Goudge would develop into a fine athlete, but his rate of development has been remarkable. Goudge won the 220 yards in the record time of 24.85 seconds, breaking the record set up by JDC Radcliffe in 1946; he also won the 100 yards[…], the high jump using a Western roll […] and came second in the long jump; Goudge’s performance was the best one put up by a boy of the School since the qualifications system was introduced – even more remarkable in that this was Goudge’s first season in the Open Class.’

Subsequent issues of The Boltonian charted Chris’ numerous athletic achievements. In 1952 he represented the School at the LAC Schools Challenge Cup Meeting at the White City Stadium, where he gained medals in both the High Jump and the Long Jump. Chris was one of a number of Bolton School boys who participated in the Northern Schools Athletics Meeting at Fallowfield, Manchester – he won the High Jump with a jump of 5ft 9ins and was selected to jump for the Northern Counties AAA (Manchester District) team against Manchester University where he was placed second.

In the School’s Athletic Sports competition in 1952, Chris Goudge jumped ‘magnificently’ to add 2¼ inches to the High Jump record and he became the proud recipient of the prized McLean Spoons. (Donated by Mr J McLean, Governor of the School and a member of the Boys’ Committee for 30 years as representative of the Horwich Urban District Council, the Spoons were originally given to the Cadet Corps, but in later years were presented to the Victor Ludorum in Athletic Sports.)

In 1953 Chris gained first place in the Long Jump, the High Jump, the 440 Yards and the 220 yards at an athletics match against Cowley School, St Helens. The Boltonian reports that, at the School Sports Day the same year, ‘CE Goudge contrived to dominate proceedings despite his recent operation. He broke a longstanding Long Jump record with a magnificent leap of 21ft 5ins, topped his own High Jump record by ½in, and narrowly failed to equal the Quarter-Mile record’. The Boltonian report on the following year’s Sports Day noted that: ‘Nineteen-fifty-four might well be called CE Goudge’s year. Having already broken the 220 yards open record, he went on to establish new records in Long Jump and High Jump and to beat the 13-year-old 440 yards record’.

On leaving School Chris completed his National Service with the Royal Tank Regiment; he also represented them as a runner. In 1955 he featured in the ‘News of Old Boltonians’, writing:

‘I came over as a Lance Corporal in charge of seven trainees, but unfortunately, as is the custom, I had to forfeit my stripe very soon after my arrival. We were very glad to get indoors because there were several inches of snow already on the ground, and more was being swirled about in the wind. To add to that it was bitterly cold … We live in buildings instead of tin huts, with central heating instead of the meagre heat of a small stove … The barracks have changed hands twice before, they were originally built for one of the famous Panzer divisions, but later used as a prison camp … We are the champions of BAOR [British Army of the Rhine] in several sports, including boxing, athletics and hockey. We have employed as a clerk, one of the 1936 German Olympic coaches, who is largely responsible for our success in athletics. We have everything we could wish for in Munster. We can read all the well-known magazines in the WVS centre. There are facilities for all sports and indoor games. There is a photographic darkroom. We have a library of books and of gramophone records. There is a cinema, and even our own London Transport bus to take us into the city … A few days ago I happened to visit the ‘Mailed-Fist-Club’, and sitting by the door as I entered was a man in RAF uniform. It was none other than JR Powell (1947-1954). I may go to Osnabruck on Friday where BS Ditchfield (1944-1953) (RAPC) [Royal Army Pay Corps] is stationed, and later this month an exercise is being held in the Holme district, where I may meet JM Unsworth (1946-53) of the Eighth Hussars.’

In 1956 Chris Goudge was awarded his Army Athletic Colours. After demobilisation Chris went to Manchester College of Technology (new UMIST) where alongside studying Physics and playing the clarinet he represented the University in athletics, taking up hurdling and breaking University records in a number of events. He subsequently represented Lancashire, England and Great Britain at various meetings and was awarded the Jack Smith Cup for the ‘most distinguished sportsman of 1958’ by the XXI Club Manchester University.

Chris held the English record for the 440m hurdles between 1958 and 1964. In 1960 he qualified for Olympic selection – the qualifying time for the 400 metres hurdles was 52.2 seconds: Chris’ time was equivalent to 51.9 seconds. He subsequently finished fourth in the third heat in a time of 52.75 seconds; unfortunately this was not fast enough to qualify him for the semi-finals.

After graduating, Chris began teaching Physics at Stand Grammar School, and he continued to teach until his retirement in 1995. He also continued to compete internationally, whilst maintaining his connection with Bolton School. In 1962 he joined JP Boulter (1953-1959), KJ Wall (1948-1955), DI Hardy (1947-1957), LN Rudd (1953-1960), JR Donnison (Class of 1962), M Topp (Class of 1962) and D Glassman (Class of 1962) to form an Old Boys’ cross country team in a competition with the School team. However, despite the Old Boys’ best efforts, the School team was victorious. In 1964 the Old Boys fielded an athletics team and produced a number of outstanding performances, including wins for Chris in the High Jump and the 440 yards. The following July, Chris was a prominent member of an Old Boys team which proved much too strong for the School opposition, with the Old Boltonians claiming victory by a margin of 21 points.

Christopher Goudge died on 7th November 2010, aged 75. He is commemorated in Bolton as part of the Spirit of Sport statue on De Havilland Way.

In 2015 the School held a Sports Reunion Weekend as part of the School’s 100/500 anniversary celebrations. At the event, Sir Philip Craven, who was at that time President of both the IPC and the Old Boys’ Association, unveiled ten new boards on the Boys’ School corridor which showed those former pupils who had competed at Olympic, Paralympic or World level. The boards included an action shot of Chris competing in the 400m hurdles at the 1960 Rome Olympics; members of the Goudge family were in attendance to witness the unveiling of this tribute to this remarkable athlete and Old Boltonian.

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