Joy Sims, Ina Taylor with Catherine Beale - The Olympian Games in Wenlock

The Olympian Games in Wenlock: a pictorial history

From penny-farthing racing to Wenlock the mascot, the illustrious 160-year history of the Wenlock Olympian Games is told in full colour. This book follows the progress of the Games from Victorian beginnings to the thriving celebration they are today and explains their role in the modern Olympic movement.

Published 31st March 2012.

ISBN 978-0-9570781-0-9 12.99 96pp in full colour.

Special offer on this book now only 7.50!

Printed by Graphics and Print

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Review from the Shropshire Star

Billed as a pictorial history, this is a lovely book telling the story of the Wenlock Olympian Games which are at last receiving their rightful recognition for the part they played in influencing the revival of the modern Olympics.

And, unless you have been on a trip to the outer reaches of the solar system, you will know where the Olympic Games are being held this summer. The man behind it all was William Penny Brookes who must have been a figure of great persuasive powers, encouraging Shropshire farmers' sons and other competitors to take part in events in which there was a lot dressing up, pomp, and pageantry ?something to which they took, so far as can be made out, like ducks to water.

Winners got gongs and it is this ceremonial aspect which is one of Brookes' legacies to the modern Olympics. The fact that there were handsome money prizes made the Wenlock games a draw for Victorian athletes from far and wide.

While tracing the roots of the Wenlock Olympics, the book gives full weight to the games as they developed through the 20th century, and as they continue today, and there are many colour photos bringing things up to date in 2012.

It has not been an unbroken run, interest petered out in the 1960s, only to be revived with renewed enthusiasm in the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. More recent years have seen the games gain the national and international recognition which eluded them during Brookes' lifetime.

Priced at 12.99, this book is said to be flying off the shelves in Much Wenlock. If the spirit of William Penny Brookes still walks the streets, it must surely be bursting with pride.

Review by Toby Neal

Joy Sims and Ina Taylor, authors of The Olympian Games in Wenlock, with Catherine Beale at the book's launch

The Olympian Games in Wenlock: a Pictorial History

A new pictorial history of the Wenlock Olympian Games - the inspiration behind the modern Olympic movement - is about to be published.

This lavishly illustrated full-colour book, The Olympian Games in Wenlock: A Pictorial History, is the first to tell the story of the Games? 160-year history from their creation in 1850 by Dr William Penny Brooks to the present day.

Pictures range from sepia tone images of penny-farthings to full colour pictures of recent events, including a visit to the town by the Wenlock mascot last year.

Local historian Joy Sims collaborated with best-selling author, and Much Wenlock publisher, Ina Taylor, on the book, which is officially launched on 30 March at the town's Priory Hall at 7pm.

"The book follows the progress of the Games from their Victorian beginnings in this small Shropshire market town to the thriving celebration they are today and explains their role in the founding of the modern Olympic movement," explained Ina.

"People in the town and families further afield have been incredibly helpful, finding photographs in dusty cupboards and remembering stories granddad told them. It has also been really enjoyable to hear from locals who compete in the games today and to publish some fascinating pictures which have never been seen before," she added.

Anecdotes about competitors include tales of the 1920s Wenlock postman who trained for sprinting events by running from house to house and the local woodman who learnt to pole vault over hedges on Wenlock Edge.

Catherine Beale, who wrote a widely-praised biography of William Penny Brookes last year, has acted as consultant on the project.

It will be sold at retailers around the county and through the website from 30 March, price 12.99.