The Hartlepool man who shone in every sport he tried

When Thomas Richardson took the leap into ski jumping he made a difference to sport in Hartlepool.

Friday, 29th July 2016, 10:00 am
How we reported Thomas's story in 1963.
How we reported Thomas's story in 1963.

But this Heathfield Drive resident was more than a one trick pony and water skiing wasn’t his only passion.

This Hartlepool man was something of a skilled hand in numerous sports. They ranged from football to cricket and swimming to roller skating.

Thomas Richardson.

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Today, we take a look at the man who first made Northern Daily Mail headlines in 1963.

Chris Cordner reports.

Thomas Richardson was pretty much great at whatever he turned his hand to.

When he tried out water skiing, he progressed from a novice to a qualified instructor in four years.

Thomas Richardson.

He was instrumental in Hartlepool getting its own jumping ramp for water skiers. It typified the man. He wanted to leave a legacy of improving facilities for sport in the North East and joined Hartlepool Yacht Club so that he could pass on his knowledge.

In 1963, he was an athletic 29-year-old. He was born in West Hartlepool and had been educated at Elwick Road and Rosebank schools.

His first job was as an apprentice fitter at Richardsons Westgarth. As soon as he arrived, he joined the firm’s sports club and represented Richardsons Westgarth at swimming, football and cricket.

But he still wasn’t satisfied with how many sports he was playing. Then, when he was watching a roller hockey match, he was interested at the puck being slammed across the rink.

He equipped himself with skates, joined the Seaton Swallows club and was soon playing in rinks all over the North.

He was soon good enough to play for England and did just that in 1954 when he represented his country against France in a match at Bordeaux. How did he do? Get in touch and let us know.

Sadly, National Service brought a halt to his involvement with Seaton Swallows.

But Thomas merely saw it as an opportunity to try something different and played basketball while he served with the Army in Germany.

After he was demobilised, he returned to Hartlepool but not to Richardsons Westgarth. He joined a coach and lorry firm.

And in another change, he gave up roller hockey (thinking he was getting too old) and took up sailing.

Yet again, he became an award winner after he joined Hartlepool Yacht Club where he won numerous titles including the Tees Fairway Race, the Squadron Cup and the club points trophy.

By 1959, he had progressed to water skiing and used Middleton Harbour as his training ground.

Within days, he was proficient and went to Ruislip in Middlesex to take instructor training. By 1962, he was teaching people in Hartlepool and had gathered 30 people for his courses.

Who remembers Thomas and can tell us more about him?