The Olympic Torch in Redhill and Reigate
20th July 2012
 
This is an event that many of us may not see again in our lifetimes. For me it is the second such ocassion as I was there in 1948, held up by my father to see the torchbearer pass up Station Road The following is a brief reminder of the 1948 event followed by pictures of the 2012 event.
 

Flashback to the 1948 Torch Relay
The 1948 Olympic Games were held in Wembley and the flame travelled there from Greece across Europe to Dover and was then carried to London by runners affiliated to local athletics clubs. After it passed through Westerham it travelled east to west across the Borough of Reigate. Veteran runner H.J.Bignall of Redhill and Reigate Athletic Club carried the flame from Nutfield to Redhill where he handed it on at a stop by the Warwick Hotel to fellow club member Fred Prevett who was to carry it to Reigate.
          Thousands lined the route to witness this unique event. The Mayor of Reigate, Alderman Lorkin, and his wife were on the steps of the Warwick Hotel, as was Canon Fitzgeorge, Vicar of St Matthew’s Church. It was early in the morning when Bignall ran up to the waiting Prevett. The flame was passed from one to the other and Fred started off on his journey to Reigate accompanied by a police motorcyclist, official cars and a stream of other two and four-wheeled vehicles.

  
000
H.J.Bignall carries the flame in Station Road Redhill. The motorcycle escort was Jock Mason of Reigate Police. Bignall handed the torch to Fred Prevett shortly after this photo was taken.
I was there. Just to the right of Bignall's left shoulder in the photo above a boy is held above the crowd just under the 'Jersey' (of Jersey Dairies) sign. That was me aged nine.
Fred Prevett’s destination was the Red Cross in Reigate. Waiting there was A.S.Pirie who took the flame from Fred. Such was the crowd here, spilling out onto the road, that Pirie was unable to break into a run immediately but had to walk several yards before his path was clear and he could properly start his run on the next stage to Buckland.
  
The 2012 Torch Relay 
12
A small point of contention, or perhaps a large one given the history of the two towns, was that Reigate got funding for street decoration and Redhill did not. The 'warm welcome' sign was apparently provided by Roadrunners Taxis (see comment at the end of the page).The streets were crowded. London Road being lined on bioth sides as were all the other roads on the route
  
34
More people outside Sainsbury's than inside for a change.The steps to the Harlequin and the library were soon filled up.
  
56
Station Road looking owards the station.A sign outside O'Neil's pub
  
7
Back at the Lombards roundabout there were people either side ofLondon Road as far as you could see.
  
89
This time there wasn't just one motorcycle cop there were lots of them. But unlike 1948 they were of general traffic duty, not torch bearer escort. And they were from the Metropolitan Police.
  
1011
The cavalcade preceeding the runner included an official car (which followed the runner's route up Station Road and right into London Road)The remainder came around. First was a coach
  
1213
Next was the Coca Cola vehicle;followed by the LloydsTSB bus;
  
1415
and then another coachThe next runner and part of the protection and support team await the incopming runner.
 
16
Then the photo van arrived so things were about to happen.
 
17
Sure enough the cheering rose from the town centre and the torch bearer came into sight flanked by security runners. The time by the Belfry clock was 2.35.
 
18
Assistance transferring the flame
 
19
Success; new torch is lit. It seems a shame that the official photographers got such preference as their vehicle blocked the view of the transfer to many of those further along London Road who had stood waiting for a long time.
 
The photo lorry and the torch bearer continued north as far as Carlton Road and St Bedes School where lunch break was taken. This gave my wife and I time to walk to Reigate to see the torch pass through there.
  
20
Croydon Road across Wray Common was lined on both sides
  
2122
The Roe Deer seemed to be doing good businessEsure had its own welcome
  
2324
Church Street was packed. Overhead were the bannerss that Redhill didn't get. Just one would have been nice (see comment at the end of the page)People were several deep in the High Street.
  
2527
Every window occupied
  
28
The leading vehicles start to come through
  
30
Then the torch bearer is spotted and the cameras click.
 
The runner passes and the long awaited moment is over - until the next time.
 
Comment
The controversy over the decorations alloted to Reigate with none available for Redhill was the subject of an article in the Surrey Mirror on July 13th 2012.
If you have additional images that could be used on this page please contact author
 
www.redhill-reigate-history.co.uk
July 2012