Sad News about a Founder Member: Peter Allday

Sad News about a Founder Member: Peter Allday

We have learned of the sad passing of Peter Allday. Peter died peacefully at home on the 10th March with his wife, Elizabeth, at his side. He had borne considerable discomfort bravely for some time.His funeral took place at Hastings Crematorium on Tuesday 27th March at 1145.

 Another founder member, Peter Seddon, writes: ” At the precise time that Peter’s service was to start in Hastings, we held our own remembrance service in Bad Sassendorf, Germany, some 700 kms away.Yvonne and myself sat quietly down and recapped on our brief association with Peter Allday and his then wife, Suzanne”,(née Farmer).We both have really good memories and and think we remembered the important bits.

Britain had a number of first class hammer-throwers in the post-war period.  Peter Allday had sound coaching from Dennis Cullum (qv) and first exceeded 50 metres in 1950.  That year he won the first of two Inter-Counties and seven Southern titles. An Olympic finalist in 1952 (21st) he placed 5th in the Empire Games two years later and threw 58.00 to finish a fine ninth in the 1956 Olympics.  He won his only AAA title that summer and two years later was bronze medallist in the Empire Games (with 57.58) and made the European final.  Allday weighed just 11 stone, so pound for pound was one of the UK’s most competitive hammer throwers.

In 2013 Jack Kee and Ian Tempest from the Hammer Circle
heard from Peter Allday, a former UK record holder who was 9th in the 1956 Olympics and a bronze medallist at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.  Peter was most interested to know that the Hammer Circle (the association of hammer throwers, coaches and supporters) which he helped to found in 1952, is still going strong, with two members (Alex Smith and Sophie Hitchon) reaching the hammer finals in the Olympics in 2012.

Peter exchanged letters for information on the current Hammer Circle, and outlined many of his memories of throwing, which adds much to his brief biographical entry in Ian tempest's Hammer event book (2011).  These are some extracts from his correspondence.


 “When the War ended in 1945, the Paras, to which I belonged, were sent to Palestine.  I took up hammer-throwing there, reaching 100 feet with jump turn throws.  When we finally came back to Germany in 1947 I met Christian Busch, German 1936 coach.   [He was coach to Karl Hein and Erwin Blask when they won gold and silver at the 1936 Olympics]. [Wembley 1948 champion],  He talked of Hein, Blask, and Storch of Germany and Nemeth of Hungary  Busch taught me the footwork and promised me fifty metres eventually if I worked hard and that I would have to work hard as I wasn’t particularly physically gifted (very light in stature, at 11 stones, for a hammer thrower).

 “When my Army Air Corps service was over I came to England and found an athletics book by F.A.M. Webster.  Webster mentioned that Malcolm Nokes was still alive and was at Harrow College.  I phoned the college and actually spoke to Malcolm Nokes.  It was he who put me in touch with Dennis Cullum.  This was my first contact with Nokey as we called him.  Dennis Cullum lived in Pinner in Middlesex.  I was soon with him at his training ground and joining the same club as he - London AC.   After training hard I eventually broke Nokey’s 28 year old record – he was the circle judge at the time!

 Peter describes a meeting with Norris McWhirter in 1949:

 “…. When Norris McWhirter (of McWhirter twins fame) was on the field at the White City during the hammer competition... he used to time the flight time of the hammer from release to impact with his super stop-watch and trajectory charts: he would say “That’s a personal best Peter, mark my words” His method was usually quite accurate… Norris was a NUTS wizard and did much for athletics generally and the hammer fraternity in particular”

 “Whenever an international athletic meeting was staged at the White City Stadium, Norris would at regular intervals between athletic announcements, which he did so well with his cultured voice, broadcast on the Tannoy the latest cricket scores – much to the delight of the spectators and English athletes – this of course baffled the foreigners, as it was meant to.  We British seem to enjoy being thought scatty!”


 “When the match GBR versus Russia was cancelled in 1956 by the Russians due to the incident of Nina of the five hats at a well-known West End store, even the Russians weren’t prepared to let politics destroy a hammer competition and we were able to re-organise the competition at Bisham Abbey.  The match took place with Don Anthony and me versus Krivonosov and Samotsvetov, the silver and bronze 1956 medallists.  Nokes was the circle judge again on this occasion! “

 [The Bisham Abbey event was the Hammer Circle Reunion of that year and Peter Allday set a new British Record of 59.61/195’7 behind the two Russian stars.  The meeting is commemorated with a framed photo of Krivonosov, which forms one of the annual Reunion trophies. The trophy is names after John Rodda, the long-time Guardian athletics correspondent who presented it to the Hammer Circle at the AAA Championships in 1957]


 [In his letters Peter Allday talks about meeting Imre Nemeth].

 Imre Nemeth, Hungary, Olympic victor 1948, who Busch had told me about, was my hero.   They made him manager of the Budapest Stadium for his good work at Wembley.  He had a wonderful seemingly effortless technique; his acceleration was magical a sort of cunning interplay between the body-mass and the hammer-head masses – all very scientific – the whole effect was mystifying which I found fascinating.  I studied his technique carefully but was never able to match him for smoothness and relaxation!  I actually met Nemeth in Bucharest in 1955 in an invitation hammer event and managed to pip him by 1 cm.  He drew it to my attention and we both laughed about it.

Nemeth: “You beat me by one centimetre, Allday.  You work very hard”

Allday: “I always have to work hard because I am so light”

Nemeth:  “What is your work in England?”

Allday” “I am an aircraft engineer”

Nemeth “Ah, you are not a cap-it-al-ist, that is why you work so hard” …. Laughs all round.

 “In 1960 after a letter from Hungary, I took Nemeth shopping at the West End for some special shirts.  He was a great dress stylist as well as hammer technician with his white suits and broad-brimmed white hat.  He always stood out in the Stadium crowd”


 Allday wrote about the Americans at the 1956 Olympics. 

 “Hal Connolly, USA, Olympics victor was a friend of mine as was his second string – Albert Hall.  .We practised together and exchanged ideas at Melbourne.  Connolly’s left arm, his throwing arm, was some four inches shorter than his right from birth.  He started throwing the hammer in Bakersfield, California, by throwing the hammer back for another athlete.  When he discovered that he could throw further than the other athlete he decided to take it seriously.  He went to Germany and was coached by Karl Storch who concentrated on Hal’s delivery.  Deadlifting was Hal’s weight training speciality.  Hal told me this was a root cause of his left arm actually dislocating at the shoulder when he caught a particularly good delivery.  Fortunately his shoulder eventually calcified into a solid lump and he had no further trouble, finally setting the world record at 68.54.

 “At the training ground at Melbourne, Al Hall heard me talking about hammer to some Australian throwers.  He came over and said, “Hey coach – I’ve a great idea to surprise Hal Connolly in the final.  You see, I’ve got these rubber pads in my shoes.  They are about to expand upwards to give me extra power at the finish of the throw.   How about that!”

 “I couldn’t believe my ears.  What could I say to him – what should I say to him?  I knew he was a farmer’s boy strong as a horse and he had been in the US Army.  I said “Al, you were in the Army, right? What would you do if you had to set up a mortar for the greatest possible range and had a choice of soft earth or a concrete platform – which surface would you use?”

 “Al thought deeply for some moments then replied “I’d choose the concrete platform.  Yeah?”

 “My reply “I’d remove them [the pads] quickly if I were you Al, and think of being that very mortar yourself on the concrete circle I the competition and throwing off solid ground”.  Al Hall came 4th in the final, beating Joseph Czermak, the 1952 champion with 61.96.  I do hope I said the right thing – I shall never know”




59.61 UKR    3       HC Reunion (2)              Bisham Abbey                                 2 Sep 56

59.11              1       ENG v FIN                       London (WC)                                 27 Sep 58

58.55              4       AAA                                  London (WC)                                   11 Jul 58

58.46              2       GBR v FRA                     Paris - Colombes FRA                 13 Sep 58

58.45              1       LAC                                  Hurlingham                                        6 Jun 62

58.29              1       Brockman Trophy           Croydon                                           30 Jun 56

58.18              3       GBR v British Empire    London (WC)                                   4 Aug 58

58.01              1       LAC                                  Hurlingham                                      14 Apr 62

58.00              9       OG                                    Melbourne AUS                             24 Nov 56

57.94              1       AAA v Kent                      Chatham                                             4 Jul 56

57.81              1       HC Reunion                    Bisham Abbey                                 1 Sep 56

57.81              1       South                                Uxbridge                                          20 Jun 58

57.58              3       BECG                               Cardiff                                                26 Jul 58

57.57              3       AAA                                  London (WC)                                   13 Jul 62

57.49              4       London v Warsaw          London (WC)                                   3 Sep 58

57.47              1       Malkin Trophy                 Imber Court                                   12 May 62

57.40              1       LAC v RMA                     Sandhurst                                       23 Jun 62

57.35              1       LAC                                  Brighton                                            3 Nov 56

57.28              1       AAA                                  London (WC)                                   14 Jul 56

57.28              1       LAC                                  Hurlingham                                       1 Sep 62

56.97              1       LAC Relays                     Hurlingham                                     15 Sep 56

56.92              1       LAC v RMA                     Camberley                                          9 Jul 55

56.69              3       London v Prague           London (WC)                                  12 Oct 55

56.67              Q      AAA                                  London (WC)                                   11 Jul 58

56.55              1       GBR v FRA                     Bordeaux FRA                                 4 Sep 55

56.54              1                                                 Aylesbury                                      22 Sep  56

56.45              3       GBR v HUN                    Budapest HUN                              30 Sep 56

56.44              3       GBR v URS                     Moscow RUS                                 11 Sep 55

HERE© Alan Woods 2014