Saturday 19 June saw the first one mile race of the season, for the Colin Cooper cup sponsored by one time Club Captain (1971 - 79) Tony Radford and family. Due to the short notice fixture swap Tony was unable to join us, but he is keen to send his best wishes to all at the club.
First home was James Lythe, followed by John Craske and Katie Berlyn-Holmes.
Tony Radford joined the club in 1963, aged 11. He was club champion at 16, an honour he repeated well into the 1970s
James Lythe, 2021 winner of the Radford mile for the Colin Cooper cup
One of our fastest ever swimmers
Tony was a member at the time of the club centenary in 1964, having joined in 1963. For many years he was the club champion, being of national competitive standard and one of the club's fastest ever swimmers. Though a member of the Serpentine SC his pool training and competing was under the banner of South London SC, coached by his father Alf. Tony regularly competed in the ASA Southern Counties championships, his favoured events being 220 yards and one mile (still imperial distances in those days). He won the Christmas Day race in 1967 and 1972, producing a sub 60 seconds time for the latter win. This has only ever been equalled by Nick Adams, some thirty years later. One summer day in the early 1970s Tony swam our Bridge to Bridge race in the morning and then was driven by dad Alf to Brighton for the Pier-to-Pier race a few hours later, which he won.
Tony's wife Christine was also a very good competitive swimmer - that's how they met. It is not clear who was actually fastest of the two, but Christine was definitely the more graceful.
1968, 4 x 110 yard freestyle relay. Tony waiting patiently for his team's final leg. Alan Titmuss (rival team) prepares for a flyer.
Tony won the first of his two Peter Pan cups in 1967. No photos, but we do have a press clipping.
Current club captain Deirdre Ward assisted Handicapper Dani Lobo with the starting and judging
Race over and victor James Lythe pauses for the camera
Some familiar faces have won this race over the years
Mike Harris stood in for the Radfords and presented the Colin Cooper cup to James
The story behind the Colin Cooper cup
Who was Colin Cooper, what was his connection with the club and the Lido and why do we race for his cup?
Colin Cooper is listed as a club member in 1913 and 1914. Colin served with the Royal Flying Corps during WW1, holding the rank of Major.
Our club fixture card for 1928 records the Colin Cooper cup being swum for over four races - 55 Yards in May, 110 yards in July, 220 yards in August, and 55 yards in September. The 1927 fixture card is missing, but the races do not appear on the 1926 card. So the series was either over the two years 1927 & 1928 (not unheard of - the Telegraph series used to be nine races over three years) or just 1928. The cup was kept in the possession of the 1928 winner and half a century later was donated back to the club and was, from 1978, presented to the winner of the Radford Mile race.
Major Colin Cooper’s younger brother, Captain Jack Oliver Cooper, also served in the RFC and at the tender age of 20 was killed in action while carrying out a bombing raid on Epéhy Station, France on 21st July 1916. There is a plaque dedicated to Colin’s younger brother (by four years) on the wall of the Lido pavilion.
The Lansbury Lido was built by public subscription, and a very large anonymous donation
It was the 'public spirited' George Lansbury, Mayor of Poplar, leader of the Labour party and popular Commissioner of Works between the wars who, in 1929, first suggested a public bathing space in Hyde Park. Funds were raised by a public appeal for the development of the Lido bathing area and pavilion. A private offer was also made on the strict understanding that it was entirely anonymous "and no one except Mr Lansbury shall know of my identity". The donation permitted the completion of the pavilion and, in the spring of 1930, the Lido was completed, replacing the old bathing huts with the ornate pavilion. A plaque in commemoration of Lansbury is built into the wall of the pavilion, with the inscription "who made this bathing shore for our enjoyment".
Though George Lansbury respected the donor's desire for anonymity, over the years it became accepted that it was Major George Cooper, RFC, who made the generous and greatly appreciated donation towards the development of the facility where he bathed before the war and to ensure there would be a permanent physical memory to his young brother, Jack.
Captain Jack Oliver Cooper, 10 April 1896 - 21 July 1916. Younger brother of Colin Cooper.
The plaque on the Lido Pavilion wall reads, “In proud memory of Captain J.O.Cooper age 20 years who was killed in action whilst serving in the R.F.C” with a verse written by John Drinkwater:
Time would have brought him in her patient ways,
So his young life spoke to prosperous days,
To fullness of authority and praise,
He would not wait so long, a boy to spend,
His boys dear life for England, be content,
No honour of age had been more excellent.