History

On the 7th of December 1867 some members of the Thames Rowing Club organised a steeplechase from the Red Lion, Putney. They were to do this on two other occasions, on the 1st of February 1868 and the 21st of March, however the 4th running of the event was postponed and became a handicap paper hunt put on by Thames Hare and Hounds from the Kings Head Roehampton. A paper hunt or chase involved 'hares' starting ahead of the main pack, marking their route with a trail of paper. The pack would then follow the trail, the first to catch the hares being the victor. The announcement of the event, which included train times, appeared in The Sportsman and was reported in The Sportsman, Sporting Life, The Field, Bells Life, The Illustrated Sporting and Theatrical News. This is the first time the Thames Hare and Hounds are mentioned and is taken as the origin of the club.

Similar events followed over the next 10 years, all fully reported, including one which clashed with an outing of the Barnes Beagles though whether this was a hunt with dogs or an instance of one of the other origins of a running club is not clear.

At this time TH&H was a 'Gentleman Amateur' club and was considered to be one of the more conservative; tradesmen had their own clubs as was also the case in golf. The first recorded match, against the Gentlemen of Hampstead was in 1870 and there were attempts in 1876 to arrange a match with South London Harriers, Spartan Harriers and Birmingham. Out of this came the first Open Championship at Roehampton in 1878. There was a setback in 1879 when the use of paper trails was banned on Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. In 1883 the England Cross-Country Association was founded but TH&H decided to withdraw because of concerns about the purity of the sport. The resulting isolation lasted for 40 years though it did not prevent members taking part in the 1896 and 1912 Olympic Games and organising the Oxford v Cambridge match from 1896.

The Great War took its toll and the club struggled to stay viable for the next few years but things began to change in 1921. In this year a member had finished 9th in the Southern Championship but had to join Ranelagh to do so. Whether this was the trigger is not clear but in 1923 an application to join the South England Cross-Country Association was approved. In 1922 the first Captain of Running was appointed and the modern pattern of matches, handicaps and runs was established. The 1932-33 season included for the first time 'mob' matches against Ranelagh and Orion. In 1937 a team was entered in the National and in 1938 TH&H won the South of the Thames Championship.

During the Second World War the club was able to remain more active than during the previous conflict and issued a general invitation to runners who were in London to make use of the club Changing Room. There is a record of it being used on 378 occasions during the war period though an unexploded bomb in Medfield Street did restrict running routes for a while. More serious was the loss of members on active service, the death of the Secretary in a black-out accident and of the Club Attendant in an air raid. Recovery after the war was quite quick. Evening training runs were restarted and 2 members ran in the 1948 Olympic Games steeplechase.

In 1979 with the club entered the Surrey League for the first time in Division 2. Since then a series of hard working captains have built up the club to the point that it has now achieved a number of Division 1 victories. In addition, in recent years the mens side have seen a steady improvement in championship results including back-to-back wins in the South of the Thames and a victory in the Southern Counties Cross Country.

Perhaps the biggest change to the make-up of the club came in 1981 when the election of the first women members took place. The ladies section has strengthened over the years; after entering the Surrey League in 1984 they now regularly compete for the top three positions.

Another major change took place in 1969 when the club registered as a first claim club for road racing and fell running. For a while before that some members had been running road races in the colours of Orion. Earlier there had been participation in road races but it seems to have been an almost unmentionable activity. Things had changed a little by 1960 when 6 members entered the Polytechnic Marathon and for the first London Marathon in 1981 there was considerable enthusiasm for the sport. Thames is now arguably the leading mens marathon club in the country having won a string of UK championship team titles at London over the past ten years.

1983 saw the first entry in the Southern 12 Stage. Since then road relays have become increasingly popular especially among veterans. Club members also make regular appearances at the Three Peaks Fell Race and two day Original Mountain Marathon.