Soham Grammarians - Harry Kane
|Harry Kane was in the 1944-45 school year entry, Form IIA.
In the Autumn 1947 Soham Grammarian his departure is
Valete LVB H Kane: Athletics Team
There is an A Kane identified in the Michaelmas 1946
School Photo between Lewis Heavens and Tinker Wells.
Fred Eden SG44 says that Harry was known as Adgy
Kane, which would explain the original identification.
Lewis and Tinker were in Harry's year. This is a
different part of the photo to that used in the Ely Standard
A Jewish evacuee, Harry was fortunate to be happily placed with
a couple in Stretham. He was bright and athletic and joined in
well with village and school life.
After returning to London in 1947 his athletic talent was able
to develop to a much higher level and he became a hurdling
As far as is known there is no connection with the England
Football Captain Harry Kane ....
School Photo, Michaelmas 1946
back 5: - Colin Scarf - George Peacock - I McCullough? - Rodney
row 4: ( ) - Lewis Heavens - A Kane (Harry) - Gerald Tinker
Wells - 4
row 3: David Gardiner - Vernon Groom - 2 - Peter Handley
row 2: Donald Tills - Max Constable - Ian Burroughs - R Cutworth
front 1: J Malcolm Watson? - 2
There is no argument that England football captain Harry Kane has become
one of the most well-known athletes in the world. But for one namesake who
moved to the Fens, sporting prominence on the global stage was already on
Harry Kane, thought not to be related to the Three Lions' skipper, was one
of a number of Jewish children who evacuated to Cambridgeshire after the
Second World War, many of those living in Stretham. “Harry lived on Short
Road and we went to school together,” John Baylis, who lived near Harry,
said. “He went to Stretham primary school then to Soham Grammar
School, but I did not see him much after then.”
Born in London to an Orthodox Jewish family, Harry’s mother and younger
brother were both killed in a house fire when he was 10 years-old.
After moving to Stretham to live with Alfred and Gladys Reeves, Harry made
his mark at Soham Grammar School in athletics as he began to take part in
“Harry went to the school where he is remembered as an excellent
sportsman,” Cambridgeshire historian Mike Petty said. “He took part
in the school athletics in 1947, beating Robert Norman of Haddenham.”
Robert Norman sometimes ran in events alongside Harry, who was in the same
house as him at Soham Grammar School after first meeting each other on the
“He was a normal lad, nothing extraordinary but strong,” Robert
recalled. “He used to race in the cross-country event and we raced
against your age group. He probably assisted me with points at school
championships. He was a keen competitor and compared to the current Harry
Kane, I think he would have the same demeanour.”
Having been spotted while at Hackney Downs School in London, Harry then
went onto compete at international competitions, and with it came success.
In 1952, he won the 120 and 200-yard hurdles events at the British
Athletic Championships, followed by victory in the 400m hurdles at the
Maccabiah Games in Israel in a record time of 50.50 seconds.
His record-breaking feats did not stop there, though.
Aged 21, Harry was in action at the British Athletics Championships in the
440-yard hurdles event in 1954, setting a British record and came second
at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games the same year.
“Harry Kane returned to Stretham several times to visit the couple with
whom he was evacuated,” Mike said. “One such visit was reported in
the Ely Standard
for September 1955, shortly after success in an
international athletics match against France at Bordeaux.”
... for England in the international
events at Porto on Saturday coming, coming first in the 400m hurdles.
This was the first track events of the afternoon, and was run in
terrific heat. A sports commentator for lunch newspaper reported "it
was left to Harry Kane to hold on gamely to finish a fifth of a second
ahead of the Frenchman Cury."
Harry’s brother, Gerry, also came to visit the area. Les Gotobed was one
resident who knew Harry and used to keep an eye on his progress. John knew
him and we went up the road to watch Harry hurdle jumping on the
television,” he said. “He was a tall fella’ with dark hair. Everybody knew
everybody then; as soon as you got a stranger in the village, you asked
who they were. “Harry said ‘hello’ to you when he went by. The
evacuees knew nothing about the village and kept themselves to
Perhaps one of Harry’s greatest achievements
was representing Great Britain at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne,
competing in the 400m hurdles. After winning silver in the 200m
hurdles, he then won the 400m hurdles at the Maccabiah Games a year later.
But the skills he learnt and his persona
towards others while at school were important on his path towards sporting
glory. “He integrated into the school fairly well, he wasn’t
bullied; he looked after himself,” Robert said. Harry was not short
on intelligence, either, according to Les, who said if you went to grammar
school, “in that day, you had to be pretty good to go there.”
A friendly man away from the track, Harry
moved away from Cambridgeshire as his athletics career progressed, but he
did not fail to leave a lasting impression. “He was quite good at
football and must be around 85-90 years-old,” John said. “When we
had sports days in the village, he won the running and hurdle races; he
was a nice lad.”
Kane, Harry (Part 1 of 5). An Oral History of
13/2/2002 Abstract (please click the link to hear Harry Kane speaking
Part 1: Childhood. East End of London. Grandparents from Russia and
Poland. Paternal grandfather in the Cavalry. Maternal grandfather cobbler.
Very fond memories of childhood. Own mother died when he was 10. Eastern
European culture reflected in the language - lots of different words -
Jewish Yiddish - Polish etc. 'All in the pot'.
Childhood memories brother Gerry. Attended
Robert Montifiore School. Evacuation to Cambridgeshire during war.
Streatham village near Ely. Terrible story of house fire in new house in
Oxford in which his mother and new younger brother Stanley died and father
was burned. Father went to war and he and Gerry returned to family in
Streatham and lived there beyond the war. (Got a Christian education and
talks of Sunday school trip to Norfolk coast.) Remembers the Jewish
community in the East End and returning to visit grandparents there.
Father was a taxi driver and drove petrol lorry in the war.Living
conditions. Story of father returning after work and leaving some food on
his plate for Harry. Relationship with parents. First mention of gambling
- gambler all of his life.
Jewish religion - Orthodox/Kosher house.
More detail of the house fire in Oxford. Her parents blamed his father the
aftermath of the fire. Maternal grandmother however had a lot to do with
upbringing of Harry and Gerry. Mother's funeral. Relationship with
maternal grandmother. Returned to the evacuation family until he was 13 -
Gerry returned earlier - the couple became his surrogate parents [Alfred
James and Alice Reeves]. Life in the village of Streatham? They were
the most significant influence on his life. Living off the land - growing
and shooting food. Integrated into village life. Beginning sports.
Mentions Grafton and London Athletics Clubs. School sports day important -
440 yds moved up from sprints. Discusses handicap races. Discusses
technique for running 440yds. Criticism of his methods. Training.
Getting into top level sport. Fenland Grammar Schools Association - where
he first started to win 440 events. Returned to live with father in Stoke
Newington. Hackney Downs Grammar School (Grocers) - Leslie Mitchell was
athletics coach at school and noticed Harry's ability. Kept in touch with
Leslie Mitchell. Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) allocated Harry a
hurdling coach. John [Mesurier]. Geoff Dyson was national athletics coach.
Joe Simpson (friend-chief of police) got Harry job, which would give Harry
time off for training.
|Jewish Lives Project
An Olympian hurdler who broke records in Britain and at the Maccabiah
Kane was born in the East End of London, into an Orthodox Jewish
family. His father was a taxi driver and his grandparents were
from Russia and Poland. During the war he was evacuated to
Cambridgeshire where he had a Christian education, began playing
sport and winning inter-county competitions. Tragically, his
mother and younger brother were killed in a house fire [in Oxford]
when Harry was ten. [He returned to Cambridgeshire]. Back in
London [to which he returned in 1947] his talent was spotted while
at Hackney Downs Grammar School and the Amateur Athletics
Association allocated him a hurdling coach, John Mesurier. In 1952
he won the 120 and 200 yard hurdles at the British Athletic
Championships. The following year he won the 400m hurdles at the
Maccabiah Games in Israel with a record time of 50.5. In 1954, at
the age of 21 he won the 440 yard hurdles at the British
Athletics Championships, which set a British record, and he
came second at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.
That year he was ranked 7th in the world in the 400 yard hurdles.
Kane competed in the 400 metre hurdles at the 1956 Summer
Olympics in Melbourne. He won a silver medal in the 200
metre hurdles and came first in the 400 metre hurdles at the 1957
Kane set an English inter-country record in the 440 yard hurdles, and
matched the Scottish all-comers record. In 1952, at the British
he won the 120 yard hurdles with a time of
15.4, and the 200 yard hurdles with a time of 23.3. At the 1953
, Kane won the 400 meter with a games record times of
In 1954, at the British Athletic Championships he won the 440 yard hurdles
with a time of 53.4. In 1954, competing for England, Kane was second in
the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games 440 yard hurdles, with a
time of 53.3. His personal best in the 400 was 51.5, in 1954, setting a
British record. In 1954, he was ranked seventh in the world in the 400
Kane competed for England in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne
in the 400 meter hurdles. In 1957, he was ranked eighth in the world in
the 400 hurdles. That year, Kane took a silver medal in the 1957
in the 200 meter hurdles, with a time of 25.3
seconds, while winning the 400 meter hurdles.
In his early athletics career, in May 1949, Kane finished runner up in two
flat races in an athletics competition held in Victoria Park, Bethnal
Green. Kane finished second in the 220yds sprint to his cousin, Ivor
Baylin and Kane finished second to Dove in the 440yds race.
Harry Kane had the following podium finishes at major championships: 2nd
in the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games
Hurdles. In the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games he was
eliminated in the heats of the 440 yards. In the British Empire and
Commonwealth Games he competed for England.
Personal Best: 400H – 51.5y (1954).
#5 h2 r2/3
400 metres Hurdles
Facts about Olympic Athletics Melbourne 1956 - Athletics
400m hurdles M
Round 1: 2nd 51.8 secs Q
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page created 16 Jul 21: last updated 17 Jul 21