If you belong to the ‘Harriers’ then you belong to a club with a lot of history and a great tradition. Durham City Harriers was established in 1907. The headquarters for the club was in the Criterion Hotel which is now the Coach and Eight at the end of Framwellgate Bridge. One successful member in these early days was George Lee who was in the British Olympic Team in Stockholm in 1912. He competed in the 5,000m and 10,000m. He also represented England in the International Cross-Country Championships in Paris in 1913 where he was third.
Running with Durham City Harriers in the period between the two World Wars was obviously a very different experience to what it is now. Club fees in 1928-2 were 3s 6d for seniors and 1s 6d for youths. Runners would meet at team headquarters at 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The following 3 paragraphs taken from the Rulebook give an interesting insight into running at that time-
“7. That a whip and pacemaker be appointed for each pack; the packs to be controlled by the whips and must not pass the pacemaker until he gives the signal to go. NO RACING THROUGH THE STREETS.
8. That there be slow and fast packs when deemed by the Committee favourable, and on the fast pack overtaking the slow pack both to be under the control of the whip and pacemaker of the fast pack.
10. If through any cause a runner is unable to keep up with his pack the whip shall have power to instruct any member to fall out and keep him company home.”
The club’s recent history dates to 1972 when the club was reformed. The founding members were Neville Rutherford (Treasurer), Joe McMahon (Secretary) and Norman Carnigham (Chairman). Neville and Joe were originally members of Gateshead Harriers. Not long after they were joined by a number of other athletes such as Ronnie Woods, Paul Gibson, Cliff Featherstone and Bryan Mackay. The club was all male at the time and there were no juniors. The early club colours were blue and yellow vests but it was not long before this changed to bright orange, the new colour being introduced by Bryan!
In the early years of the 70’s the club met at Maiden Castle but it was not long before it made its first move, in this instance to Framwellgate Moor Comprehensive School. It was during this period that the number of Juniors in the club began to grow noticeably. The 1980’s saw numbers rise during the period of the first ‘running boom’ and the club became increasingly successful in the Northern area. However increasing discontent with facilities led to the search for another venue and the club moved to the Johnston School. The club stayed at the Johnston School for most of the 1990’s. Eventually a decision was taken to move back to Maiden Castle, attracted by the first rate facilities offered by the University as well as allowing the club to benefit from closer links with the student population.
Today membership of the club is large and varied. There are over 400 members of all ages and abilities engaged in a wide variety of running and athletics events.