1948 London Olympics
The Olympics is an international multi-sport event that takes place in different countries around the world - in normal circumstances, every four years. However, there was a 12-year gap between 1936 and 1948 due to World War Two (1939-1945). Significantly the last event before the war was in 1936 in Berlin, Germany, and the first one after the war was in 1948 in London - the instigating country followed by the victorious one, which must have been in the minds of the 1948 organising committee. At that time, the UK was still suffering badly from the effects of the war, but the Government considered it important to provide cheer and pride to its citizens by running a global highlight. In this it succeeded. This page describes my observations at the time.
Why it was special to see the 1948 Olympics
During the euphoria of the London Olympics of 2012, I was proud to say that I had seen the 1948 London Olympics.
Yet everyone younger than me was not particularly impressed. After all, anyone could see any event of the 2012 Olympic Games simply by turning on the television. So it was just assumed that the same was true for the 1948 games.
However, of course, televisions did not start getting into homes until the early 1950s. So the vast majority of the population saw nothing of the games other than what was in the newspaper or on cinema newsreels. To see something of them live really was special.
What I saw live of the 1948 Olympics
I did not come from a wealthy family. So tickets for an Olympic event were out of the question. What I saw was the Olympic men's marathon, and I saw it by standing with thick crowds of others, along the route which passed near where I lived in Edgware. I was only nine years old at the time and small for my age, so people let me stand in front of them, and I had a good view.
The athletes: my impressions
I still have clear memories of the athletes. What strikes me now, looking back, is how thin and small they were. That must have been due to the austerity and suffering of the war but it didn't occur to me at the time as I had nothing else to compare it with.
The Royal family: my impressions
At the same spot, I also saw the King, Queen and Princesses sweep by in a car. What struck me about them was how quietly magnificent they looked. I realise now that this was because I had never before seen clothes colour-coordinated - due to the austerity and 'make do and mend' policies of all my young years.