Athletics in Portsmouth can be traced back to the 1880’s when a club called The Portsmouth Harriers dates was formed. There was also a Portsmouth Beagles (foundation date not known). There had also been in existence in the town since before 1893, a cycling club called The Portsmouth Road Club. At one time Portsmouth Football Club also included athletics and became a league club.
Also in the distant past a club had been formed called Portsmouth Spartan AC which later became Portsmouth Corinthian AC. Both included athletics, gymnastics and motorcycling.
Later the motor cyclists remained as The Portsmouth Corinthians and the athletes formed a separate club retaining the name Portsmouth Caledonian AC ( P.C.A.C. ), there being a strong Scottish element in the membership. This later became Portsmouth City AC reflecting Portsmouth’s status change from town to city.
The Portsmouth Beagles combined with The Portsmouth Harriers to form the Portsmouth Racing Club between 1909 and 1911.
Round about 1912 the Racing Club and the Road Club amalgamated and The Portsmouth Road and Racing Club came into being.
In 1927 there was a split and the second Portsmouth Harriers was formed.
On 8th March 1932 the three existing athletic clubs decided to disband so that a new, stronger club, Portsmouth Athletic club could be formed.
From its formation until the Second World War, the club steadily progressed but during the war period in was unable to function and members were scattered to all parts of the globe.
Early 1945 efforts were made to get the club operational again. The then President of The Hampshire AAA, Mr F J Prescott became the first post war Chairman and Lt. Cdr Cyril Sinfield as secretary was able to use his naval influence to get club members the use of the Pitt Street track.
Cyril was drafted to Australia in the September of 1945 and Andy Gibb was persuaded to volunteer to hold office till the next AGM. He stepped down in February 1990 having held the “temporary” post for forty-five years!
Much of the club’s post war glories, both at home and abroad, can be traced to Andy’s untiring and motivating efforts on behalf of the club. He also became a President of The Hampshire AAA in 1963.
There were three age groups in the club:
Seniors annual subscription 12/6
Juniors (17 – 19) annual subscription 7/6
Youths (15 – 17) annual subscription 5/-
Younger athletes were not encouraged to become members (school work considered more important) although a Youth Associate Group (13-15) was formed – but there were no competitive events for them.
In 1993, the club merged with Portsmouth, Fareham & District to form City of Portsmouth Athletic Club and continues with this name.
Below is a brief history of the Portsmouth, Fareham & District club and Portsmouth Atalanta provided by Rex Hawksworth.
Here’s how the club emerged to join the P.A.C. to become City of Portsmouth AC.
I did organise the union as Chairman in the winter of 1993 with Pauline who was Secretary of Atalanta at the time.
Portsmouth Atalanta as then ran 2 teams in the Southern Women’s League, Divisions 1 & 2 and had 100 competing athletes at the time.
Fareham AC commenced in 1975 and was also ran by Alan Newell and Kathy Newell and like Pauline and myself took virtually all the running aspects of the club which was too much.
We merged in the winter of 86/87 and for 2 season 87 & 88 operated as Atalanta Fareham AC.
In 89 we changed the name to Portsmouth Fareham and District which was favoured of course by Portsmouth City Council.
In 1993 we had our last season and merged with the PAC to become City of Portsmouth AC.
Regarding Portsmouth Atalanta which has a very significant history amongst other ladies athletic clubs at the time, Vera Tubb was a well know and popular Secretary who died in 1985 and asked me before she died if I would take over the club with Pauline, of course, after her death. We did of course and it eventually became too much for us and hence the amalgamation to Fareham and Portsmouth ACs were inevitable.