• Liverpool Olympics

Statue for ‘visionary’ scouser who founded ‘Liverpool Olympics’

Plans are afoot to erect a statue of a Liverpool gymnastics and athletics entrepreneur who founded the ‘Liverpool Olympics’.

Charity Liverpool Heartbeat is behind proposals to honour Kensington-born John Hulley, who lived in the city from 1832 to 1875.

Subject to planning permission, the statue would be located on a vacant concrete plinth at the junction between Mariners Wharf, Coburg Wharf and Kings Parade.

Renowned sculptor Tom Murphy, whose creations include the Bill Shankly memorial at Anfield stadium and the John Lennon statue at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, has been commissioned by Liverpool Heartbeat to produce the work.

As part of the project, the charity is putting together a walking map of Tom’s statues which will be gifted to schools to encourage healthy activities.

Robin Baynes MBE, founder of Liverpool Heartbeat, says: “John Hulley was a trailblazer, a pathfinder, a visionary – a man born ahead of his time.

“At present John in known as the forgotten man of British Olympic history.

“The statue will get him recognised for the foundation work which he started in the 1800s.”

Statue being coated in rubber and prepared for the last stages of moulds.

In his short life, John Hulley organised six Olympic festivals – four in Liverpool (1862/63/64 /67) and two in North Wales (1865/66) – described as the forerunners to the modern Olympic games.

The first Liverpool Olympic Festival took place at Mount Vernon Parade Ground in 1862 and saw crowds of up to 10,000 gather to watch athletes and gymnasts compete across a variety of disciplines.

John, who wanted to encourage more people to exercise, founded the Liverpool Athletic Club with cotton merchant Charles Melly in 1861, and in 1865 the pair opened a new gymnasium on Myrtle Street.

The first Liverpool Olympic Festival in 1862 ©Wikipedia

Inspired by John’s life, Robin Baynes founded Liverpool Heartbeat in 2002 – which encourages young people across the North West to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

The charity supports local youth organisations across the region and has given its backing to a multitude of sporting events from triathlons and bike rides to boxing and mountain climbing.

In 2012, Liverpool Heartbeat campaigned for the city of Liverpool to officially recognise John, and in 2014, unveiled the official recognition of the entrepreneur by means of a plaque mounted on the wall of the Lifestyles Park Road sports centre in Toxteth.

About Author: Lawrence Saunders

Lawrence is a journalist at Move Publishing. He can be contacted via email at lawrence@movepublishing.co.uk or by phone on 0151 709 3871.