Fred Alsop - an Olympic hero

WITH the Olympic Games fast approaching, what better time to remind Gazette readers of one of this area’s great sporting heroes?

Fred Alsop represented Great Britain in three Olympics – Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968.

He came achingly close to winning a medal in Japan, leading the first round of the triple jump event before being narrowly overhauled into fourth place. Just a few inches made the difference.

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Fred, born in London and a member of the old Hornchurch Harriers athletic club, moved to Leafields, Houghton Regis, in 1963, just after his marriage.

He and his wife Janet went house-hunting here on a Lambretta scooter after his job as a chartered electrical engineer brought him to the Central Electricity Board in Redbourn.

In those days there was far less hype about the Olympics than today, so it was a pleasant surprise when the clerk to Houghton Regis council, Edryd Evans, knocked at the door in 1964 to ask permission to christen one of the new roads off Leafields in his honour.

Hence the name Alsop Close in today’s Houghton street directory.

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“It was very nice but there were no formalities – I didn’t have to cut a ribbon or anything,” said Fred.

Fred and Janet later moved to Morland Close in Dunstable and had almost forgotten about Alsop Close until their children, Karen and Warren, then at Manshead School, mentioned that they’d heard about the road.

That prompted a family journey to Houghton in around 1980, when they found that the Alsop Close nameplate had been vandalised! Happily, there was a direction sign just around the corner where Fred took the photo of his youngsters, far left, which we feature today in Yesteryear.

The main sign today, restored, is in our smaller photo, above left, of the scene.

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Fred, pictured in action, left, at the White City in London, represented Great Britain in the long jump as well as the triple jump. He retired from athletics when his children were born.

In the days when Olympic athletes were strictly amateur, the requirements of his job as well as his family meant he had insufficient time for training.

Today, aged 73, Fred, pictured above at his home in The Avenue in Dunstable, is a member of the Dunstable Downs Golf Club.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society