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London Polytechnic

The London Polytechnic was one of the British polytechnics.

There had been an attempt to establish a "polytechnic" in Regent Street in 1838, but the Regent Street Polytechnic that became such a formative influence in English education and sport was founded in 1881.

The founder was Quintin Hogg who is described in a memorial plaque in the rebuilt Polytechnic building (1911) as an "Education and Christian Benefactor", who "expanded his work by founding the Polytechnic in 1881-2". In Portland Place, amidst the traffic, is a statue of Quintin Hogg which is a memorial to him, but also to those from the nearby Polytechnic who died during the First World War. The imagery of Hogg's statue conveys the values and priorities of his Polytechnic, because he is depicted giving equal value to book learning and sporting activity. In essence, it reflects the ethos of "Muscular Christianity" which was part of his education. Inside the Polytechnic building, now the Fyvie Hall of Westminster University, another plaque explains that the reconstruction in 1911 was a memorial to the late Edward VII and it refers to the commitment of the Polytechnic to the "physical and moral development of youthful subjects".

This twin commitment is further revealed by a double set of honours boards which reveal that, from 1898 until the establishment of what was to become the University of Westminsterr, it awarded an annual trophy for the best educational achievement and the best "athletic" performance, thereby by confirming the message of the nearby statue. The latter was the Studd Trophy. Over the years, the awards has been given to sportsmen from various disciplines, such as swimming, boxing and cycling, but it is clear that the majority of awards have been given to athletes. Six names stand out: Willie Applegarth (1912/13), Olympic medallist and the greatest of the pre-First World War sprinters; Albert Hill (1919/20), Olympic gold medallist and the greatest middle-distance runner of his time; Harry Edward (1922), Olympic sprint bronze medallist; McDonald Bailey (1950), the greatest sprinter of the immediate post-Second World War years; Colin Campbell (1968 and 1970), a great quarter miler; and Alan Pascoe (1971/72/73/74/75), one of the greatest hurdlers of all time.

This roll of honour explains why, of the many sports clubs that arose from the Regent's Street Polytechnic, the Polytechnic Harriers were the most remembered and celebrated. The Polytechnic Harriers became associated with the Chiswick track, but their name confirmed that they were connected to this important educational and sporting institution. However, the Polytechnic's Kinnaird and Sward Trophies are now no more, and the Polytechnic Marathon, founded after the London Olympic Marathon of 1908, has also ceased. Indeed, even the Polytechnic Harriers have been subsumed into another club. Nevertheless, the achievements of this unique establishment, especially in athletics, still stand the test of comparison with modern activities and clubs.

The other two sports with which the Polytechnic has a strong association are cycling and water polo, producing many internationals over a number of years.