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Henry Taylor

Known as Britain's greatest ever amateur Swimmer

  Trophies Medals Henry

This photograph only shows a third of his trophies and medals. There was another two walls full of these trophies.

The Olympics proper in London in 1908 was a resounding success for Henry winning Gold Medals for the 1500 metres, and 400 metres as well as a Gold Medal for the 4 x 200 metres relay team.

He also participated in the 1912 Olympics at Stockholm, in which he was a member of the Bronze Medal 4 x 200m. team, and again in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics also Bronze medal 4x200m team and member of Water Polo Team..

In 1914 he undertook the premier swims in England, twice, the Morecambe Cross- Bay swim, obtaining a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 55 seconds. This record time has never been broken and will remain the fastest time ever now, because there is nothing to compare it with, the course having altered so much over the years. This swim he undertook a total of twelve times, winning it each time, only stopping at the out-break of World War 1.


 Henry Taylor.

1885 to 1951

Since learning to swim in the canals near his home in Hollinwood, Henry Taylor went on to become Britain's most successful swimmer.

Born in 1885 to James and Elizabeth Taylor (his father was a coalminer) he was orphaned at a very early age. He had an elder brother William (Bill) and a sister Catherine. Records then were very sketchy, and it wasn't until he swam his first race at Oldham Baths at the age of 7, any notice was taken, it was a two length event for school boys, which he won.

His elder brother took on the task of training him for the various events. Altogether he won 35 Trophies and 300 medals in his swimming lifetime.

The Mile Swim was recognised as the 'prestige' swim and the holder of this record was known to be 'Champion Swimmer of England'. Henry Taylor won this race in 1906. 1907 and again in 1911.

His first major swimming success was in 1906 when he won the World Record 880 yards. Also in 1906 he took part in the Interim Olympic Games, separately organised by the Greek Government.), and won 1500m, for which he was awarded the GOLD Medal and was awarded a Silver Cup, and came Second in the 400m, awarded the SILVER medal

Below is a rare photo of Henry with his brother his trainer. A gathering of his friends and colleagues when he brought back the Silver Cup he won in Athens in 1906.


When he joined the Navy in the First World War, he was the Champion Swimmer. In order to achieve this status he had to swim around the British Fleet which was at anchorage at Scapa Flow, and this he did on a number of occasions. This was no mean feat as our Navy at the time, was the largest in the world.

Another unusual competition he entered was what was known as the "Through the London Thames swim". After he accepted a challenge for the French Champion of the time for a similar swim through the Seine, Paris, it became an international challenge, this went on for a number of years. Henry Taylor never lost. 


Thursday, 28th February, 2002.

51 years to the date of his death, the Blue Plaque was unveiled to this undervalued swimmer.

Councillor Jim Greenwood, as Chairman of the Chadderton Area Committee, welcomed the Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Christine Wheeler to the proceedings. He also thanked Mr Bernard Edge for the work he had put in to bring this event to fruition. Jim Greenwood also recalled the first question Bernard Edge put to the newly formed Area Committee, was "Why don't you recognise the sons of Chadderton. Why don't you recognise Henry Taylor, our own Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer?


Not only was Henry Taylor an Olympic veteran, but also War hero. He joined the Navy in 1915 as an Able Seaman and took part in the most famous sea battle of the first world War, the Battle of Jutland.

 This Battle of Jutland in 1916 was a stragetic victory for Britain since the German High Seas Fleet never again attempted to engage the British Fleet.

He was then transferred to HMS Ramillies and remained on this vessel until demobbed.

Henry Taylor died in poor circumstances at 68 Brierley Street , Chadderton. Most of his Cups, Medals and memorabilia having to be sold meantime.

The Mayor, Cllr Christine Wheeler, the Mayoress, Bernard Edge, and Cllr Jim Greenwood at the unveiling ceremony.
Afterwards in the Sports Centre, where the Mayor accepted a bouquet on behalf of the Swimming Club.
Part of the exhibition, Bernard Edge constructed on the aftenoon before the unveiling.
          Information supplied by Bernard Edge, (past President and Secretary of the Chadderton Swimming Club). 1964 -94 & Life member

          To whom the thanks of Chadderton Historical Society should be extended.

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