Derricott Connections (29/01/2021)

We were contacted recently via the club website to see if we had any information on a past member from the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

The contact came from Loraine Hoar, once of Hurst Hill, now long term resident of Cornwall, who is the granddaughter of William Joseph Derricott. He was known as Joe.

Joe was the son of James Henry Derricott and Sarah Elizabeth Derricott (nee Mills) who married in 1909. James being 24 and Sarah 26. James was a stoker at Ocker Hill. Sarah’s family ran a butchers shop (Joseph Mills) in Tipton based on the High Street (No.46). They had two children, Joe and his elder sister Edie.

Joe was born in April 1914 (14/04/1914) in Swan Village. He went to school at Mount Pleasant, Coseley. It was here that he found he enjoyed running and had some success in schools races.

Having already had contacts within the club through his uncle Solomon “Sol” Derricott it was perhaps natural for him to join the Harriers. Another uncle was WE “Bill” Patrick one of the respected officers of the club and also in the wider world of athletics in general during this era.

From the club’s minute books we have found that Joe was accepted as a member of the Harriers at a General Committee Meeting held on 20th November 1929. He would have then been just 15 years old.

Joe was to become a key member of the Harriers’ Youth teams in early 1930’s. He, along with J Rea & S Hale, were the scorers in the winning team in the Midland Counties Championships in 1931. He repeated the gold medal achievement in the Midland Youths at Arley Colliery, Nuneaton in 1932 with G Rew & F Hill. It was noted in a minute of a Committee Meeting after that event that Joe & G Williamson from Tipton Harriers were leading the race with a mile to go but lost the trail & went off course.

Tipton 1932 Midland Youths XC Tipton Team

Midland Counties Youth’s Cross Country Championships 1932

Left To Right:- Jack Baker (Club Trainer); G Rew (No.38); Joe Derricott (No.37); F Hill (No.40); G Williamson (No.39) and Mr Flavell

He trained with, learned from and, no doubt, raced alongside the likes of seasoned internationals Jack Holden and the Kay brothers.

Through the 1930’s he ran in many events and was a core member of the Harriers. He ran road, cross country and track. Racing took him to various parts of the Midlands and he ran in many of the local sports staged through the summer months.

In early April 1938 a party from the club and the wider Black Country area ventured across the Irish Sea to watch Jack Holden in action at the International Cross Country Championship held at The Royal Ulster Showground, Belfast. We believe Joe may have gone along on this trip.

Joe was a member when the new clubhouse was developed under the patronage of “Inie” Palethorpe and opened in the mid 1930’s and he is to be seen in numerous team and club photographs from that time taken outside this facility. Joe would get to training at Sedgley Road East on his Triumph motorbike. An extract from one of these is shown below.

Tipton Harriers img401 Edited Detail 01

He also undertook roles within the administration of the club. He was elected one of the Club’s Vice Captains at the 1934 AGM, a role many it must be said also undertook. Thereafter he appears diligently attending Committee Meetings up until July 1938 when he reports that he would be unable to carry on in his role but would review the situation in a few months. After that his direct involvement seems to disappear. He also helped in the promotion of the Harriers Annual Sports on at least one occasion.

On leaving school Joe trained as a Fitter and Turner working for local firm Lockerbie & Wilkinson’s in Tipton. This firm appears to have a varied product range from being described as acetylene gas engineers early in the 20th century through to producing abattoir machinery and then slot mechanisms for toilets and vending machines.

He was kept at work for his engineering skills during the second world war and Lockerbie & Wilkinson workers were temporarily “transferred” to Beans Industries of Tipton to make ammunition. Joe’s sister Edie was also sent there and lost a finger whilst making the ammunition. During WW2 he was also active in the local Home Guard.

Joe worked all his working life at Lockerbie & Wilkinson from the age of 15 to his retirement at 62. He retired in 1976. He received a gold watch for long service and loved it there.

He married Gwendoline Allen (30/07/1938) at St Matthews Church, Bloomfield, eventually settling in Dimmocks Avenue, Coseley (No.21). As time went on married life, family commitments and work impacted on time for his athletics and it slowly provided less of an outlet. We can find no trace of any athletic activity with the club after the end of the 1930’s.

Married life provided children, two boys John & Robert. Robert tried athletics with Tipton Harriers as a young lad in the 1950’s but it was not to be his chosen sport.

Later generations of the Derricott’s have since taken up the sport of running and following in their relatives footprints – the most recent being his great grandson.

Joe’s interest in athletics continued and he enjoyed the success of Jack Holden in the 1950 Empire Games & European Championships knowing he had been a part of Jack’s fraternity before the war.

Another young lad was soon to be influenced by Joe and the magic of the Harriers with Joe encouraging him to join the club. His name was Alan Blackham who was active in the clubs teams and activities in the mid to late 1950’s. Alan was Joe’s nephew on his wife’s side.

Outside of athletics he was an amateur inventor, keen fisherman and enjoyed music becoming a violinist and a member of the choir at St Chad’s Church , Oak Street, Coseley.

Joe died in Coseley on 12th April 1985 aged 70 years.

As is often the case with men from this time Joe was a modest, hardworking and humble man and his family were not fully aware of his athletic talent, participation and successes. Sadly Joe had to dispose of all his athletics medals and so the family no longer has any physical mementoes of his achievements.

If you have any information on a family member who was once a member of Tipton Harriers like Joe please get in touch via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.