The Life of Bernard Baldwin, Founder of the Nos Galan Races – Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of the Bernard Baldwin blogs!

This article is inspired by the objects from the C.V.M. collection, which are presented throughout. They are concerning an event, Nos Galan, which was founded by Bernard Baldwin in 1958. For example, the medal is one of many handed to, photographs taken during and after the race and a list of the teams showing how runners came from all over the U.K.

Bernard was not content with just the Nos Galan races, he also created a mile event in 1959 at Penrhiwceiber which was won by a world record holder, Derek Ibbotson. Other races founded by Bernard also include the first Taff Street Dash in Pontypridd in 1959, which was a great success. The evening of this event saw the Annual Dinner of the Road Runners Club of Wales every year. Bernard always spoke and entertained 300 or so guests with various tales often about his fellow diners.

Furthermore, Bernard was still not content with the above events, he created 2 two-man relay events. Taking place from Cardiff to Mountain Ash and Cardiff to Swansea, equating to around 51 miles.

One of the two-man teams drove a vehicle while the other ran, they then swapped over as and when. These events only lasted 3 years as there was a concern of safety and traffic regulations.

In 1973, Bernard organised a 20 mile race at the newly opened Whitchurch Track at Bristol, a UK all comers best record was set that day.

ACVMS 1998-2756_001: List of 1967 Nos Galan Competitors

After 12 years of the Nos Galan, Bernard had the satisfaction of seeing every runner of note take the trouble to come to South Wales and run 4 miles in the dark and cold every New Year’s Eve. It would not be an easy journey to Mountain Ash, and the runners travelled some distance to compete, which is highlighted in the different team names described on the race results. Thus, Bernard arranged with local people to let a lot of the runners who had come a long way to stay the night with them.

Bernard’s enthusiasm nearly killed him just before the 1967 race. He had a box of fireworks in his car and was setting them off to signal the arrival of the mystery runner, unfortunately a spark landed in the box and the car burst into flames. He suffered multiple burns and was out of action for several months.

At the age of 46 Bernard was awarded the MBE for services to British sport.

Over the years Bernard continued to write many articles for sporting magazines and papers. He was appointed as Secretary to the Welsh Athletics Governing Body. Also, he was the Secretary of British Olympic Association for many years.

He also wrote a book titled “Mountain Ash Remembered the story of the Nos Galan Races 1958-1973” (the races were stopped because of police concerns about safety) restarted in 1984. In 2014 he was granted “freedom of the county borough”.

ACVMS 1998 804_001; ACVMS 2018.64.3_001 Images of medals throughout the years

Bernard was involved as Honorary President of the Nos Galan right up to the end.

He passed away a few days after the 2016 event.

Bernard always said he enjoyed his life and felt proud of all the events he created. He had every right to be, for he created one of the 500 best World Running Events, as officially recognised alongside London and Boston marathons. Additionally, he also took care and introduced a lot of local children into sport which would benefit them always. He also put Mountain Ash “on the map” for the Nos Galan was covered by all media including B.B.C. one can see from the photos the large attendance each year.

Bernard with Linford Christie at the races in 2014 (Courtesy of https://britainisnocountryforoldmen.blogspot.com/2017/01/britain-is-country-and-wales-nation.html)

But he did a lot more than that, he inspired and involved countless people of all ages and backgrounds into participating in sport just for the sake of it and to be part of “something “for enjoyment and the sense of achievement.

Blog post written by volunteer, Robert Glare.

The first part of this blog is also available on the website. Click on this link to read it.

 

FURTHER READING:

Nos Galan ‘A Day in the Life’ – Click on this link to visit this online exhibition

The Story of Guto Nyth Bran – Click on this link to visit the blog post

 

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