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Monday 23rd August 2004
Worcestershire Olympic Gold winners
Worcestershire Olympic Gold winners

Worcestershire Olympic Gold winners
Ernest Payne information and photo's supplied by Pam & Brian Breakwell

In 2004 it's Leslie Law for three-day-eventing but 96 years ago it was Ernest Payne for cycling, back in 1908.


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Olympic Gold medallist Leslie Law's personal invitation Audio

Worcester City Museum feature on Ernest Payne
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Ernest Payne was born on 23rd December 1884 in a cottage at 221 London Road, Worcester

His cycling career produced more than 150 wins

During the Great War he was a motorcycle dispatch rider with the Guard's Division

His gold medal was lost while he was away in France during the war

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Ernest Payne's talent was first noticed at Boughton Park in Worcester.

He borrowed his brother's cycle, "and it was seen at once that he was going to be a champion" according to a T W Badgery at a golden jubilee dinner in 1938.

Ernest Payne
Ernest Payne

He was stockily built standing five feet six and a half inches and weighing ten stone seven pounds.

He was trained by his brother Walter, himself a successful racing cyclist, and also assisted by Arthur Hale, brother of a fine Worcester racing cyclist, Frederick Hale.

Ernest Payne's first race was in the summer of 1902, on 14th July at Stourbridge.

Having fallen in his first race, "smashing his machine", he won the half mile handicap on a borrowed machine from the seventy five yard mark.

During his first season he raced in fourteen track events at a half and one mile, winning thirteen and coming second in the other.

By the end of June 1903, Ernest Payne had already made a name for himself, being referred to as "the Worcester Wonder" in The Cyclist.

He made his name on grass tracks initially, but proved to be equally at home on permanent tracks.

Ernest entered and won various races around the country, and the Challenge Cup, of 450 ounces of silver, became his own property after a further win at the 1904 Whitsun meeting in Bath.

Ernest Payne with his trophies: 1910
Ernest Payne with his trophies: 1910

It was reputedly the largest cup ever offered for a competition in England, standing some four feet from the ground.

In his first season, Payne used a locally-made machine, but in 1903 he rode an Imperial Rover, having also changed his tyres from Dunlop Road Racing to Dunlop Sprint tyres.

Ernest Payne: English, British Empire, Olympic and Midland Champion
Ernest Payne: English, British Empire, Olympic and Midland Champion

Ernest Payne was an amateur rider and worked as a carpenter.

He was fortunate that his employer allowed him time off to travel to events.

As a thank-you, he presented his employer with a gold watch.

His winning ride was in the team pursuit held in London at Shepherd's Bush stadium in 1908, which was raced over 1,810 metres.

Gold medal winners in the Olympic Games pursuit: 1908 Clarrie Kingsbury, Leon Meredith, Ben Jones, Ernest Payne
Gold medal winners in the Olympic Games pursuit: 1908 Clarrie Kingsbury, Leon Meredith, Ben Jones, Ernest Payne

Riding with Ben Jones, C B Kingsbury and Leon Meredith, he led his team to victory with superb pace-making over the last two laps.

They defeated the German team by ten seconds in 2:18.6.

Ernest Payne's racing career seems to have finished in 1910.

He played football also in 1910 for Worcester Early Closers, and was then signed for Worcester City, being in the team that won the Birmingham League back in 1912.

It's also reported in a Worcester St John's Cycling Club memoir that he made first team appearances on the right wing for Manchester United.

Ernest Payne died in 1961.

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