Martin Asquith Booth
23rd March 1947 – 26th December 2021
Martin was born in Honley to Arthur and Rachael and had a sister Margaret. He was brought up in the village and educated at the local primary school before going to secondary school in Holmfirth (now Holmfirth HS)
Upon leaving school he went to work at Josiah France Ltd. textile manufacturers based at Queens Square mills, Honley (nr. Alpine corner) and in the late 60’s went to work for Hubert Lawton Ltd. Textile engineers, Milnsbridge.
He then went to drive from October 1973 to December 1987 for Tom Moorhouse & Son Ltd, a haulage contractor based in Honley, their vehicles regularly seen by club members throughout the year having their own distinctive colouring. His first vehicle was an ‘Albion Chieftan 51’, rigid body which was used for ‘long distance’ trips, i.e. London but they did not include a sleeper cab, just a bed that could be pulled down in the rear of the cab. He also drove Moorhouse’s first ‘curtain sider’ converted from an existing rigid. During this time a wagon was also made available to him thereby enabling the Harriers to parade a decorated float in the Honley Carnival during the 1970’s. He had the use of ‘citizens band radio’ for communication to base – before the current day mobiles – his call sign was ‘Double Blank’.
He then returned to the textile industry going to work for C & J Antich & Sons Ltd. (commission warpers & weavers) based in Huddersfield remaining with them until 2007 when illness struck and he had to give up working.
The following is an extract from the Harriers Centenary book where Martin recollects his introduction to running.
“The first club run I went on was from the Bay Horse at Hade Edge. I travelled alone on the bus from Honley to Holmfirth before walking down Victoria Street to catch the Baddeley’s bus [nick named the flying hen!]. I sat in the front, quite petrified – there were all these big lads at the back. At Hade Edge a big lad said ‘if you’re coming running lad, its time to get off’ [later he found out this was Les Bailey]. I was introduced to some others including Stewart Priestley, who was responsible for me being there. Later, he was asked if he would like to join the Harriers by Bob Asquith. His memberships subs cost two shillings (10 pence) and he would have to buy a Black vest and black shorts (could be bought from Barkers or Sports Gear in Huddersfield) and ask your mother to make you a badge on white cloth to go on the front of your vest”
Martin officially joined the Club on 14th October 1960 at the age of 13 and was made an Honorary Life Member in May 2001 in recognition of his contribution to the Harriers. He was elected Club Secretary in 1966 a position he held for 15 years during which he was involved in the changing of the Club colours to an amber vest with black badge (previously a black vest with a white H on the chest).
During the following years, particularly the late 1960’s the Club expanded its membership, especially at the younger end covering Colts (11-13 years), Boys (14&15 years) and Youths (16&17 years) with Martin being instrumental in bringing these youngsters together with a lot of support from their parents, some becoming committee members for years. The Club became more widely known taking part in races up and down the country from Bolton, Frodsham and London (Thames Valley).
As a result of this the Club, with Martin heavily involved, decided to launch its own event in 1968, a Senior Road race, namely the ‘Suncharm 15’, starting at Scar End, Brockholes and finishing alongside Ben Shaw’s Suncharm factory, what is now Conroy Brook HQ. It also included a combined Boys & Youths race. A change in sponsorship saw it re-named the ‘K & M 15’, still from Brockholes before moving to Holmfirth High School as entry numbers increased and providing improved facilities. Martin even managed to tempt Bill Adcock and Ron Hill (two of the greatest British marathon runners) to come, run and win the race. Later this race became the Holmfirth 15.
This was followed in 1970 with the club promoting its own Young Athletes Races, with registration in the Civic Hall, Holmfirth and the start/finish in Crown Bottom (now a car parking area). Martin was again much involved and persuaded many parents to help on the day. The winner of that 1st Colts race was Sebastion Coe (Hallamshire Harriers & AC) later an Olympian and now President of World Athletics. The races were so successful that they had to locate to Holmfirth High School.
Martin’s first reported race, other than club races, was at the Leeds November Handicap in 1962, finishing in 52nd place out of 123 starters in the Boys & Youths race. He also competed in the 1964 Bingley Handicaps, finishing 52nd out of 115 starters. His race history records him running in the 1st West Yorkshire XC League race at Temple Newsam, Leeds on 1970. He has competed in many road races, mainly across the North and has completed the marathon in under 3hrs. In 1971 his time for the International Maxol Marathon, Manchester was 2-52-50 the finish being a lap inside the Old Trafford stadium. He also has a time of 3-49-59 for the ‘Three Peaks’ fell race. How he managed this is a mystery to many as Martin had a history of going off course at this venue! It wasn’t a road where he had no difficulty in navigation when delivering!
His first race in the ‘Tinker Cup’ was in 1963 but records show him as ‘No Time’ although he did complete the course in 1966. The start/finish then was Burnlee Working Men’s Club, Holmfirth, where Bryndlee Court is now, off Woodhead Road. Club records show that in 1971 he won the ‘Haigh’ cup, a ‘point-to-point’ race, where navigation was essential and not one of Martin’s strong points.
He has also competed in the following XC Championship races on a number of occasions; Halifax & District as a ‘Boy’ then through the age group to ‘Senior’, Bradford & District as a ‘Youth’ through to Senior, (both Associations now defunct), Yorkshire in 1966 as a ‘Junior’ then as a ‘Senior’. In 1968 he was the 6th and final scorer for the team over a race distance of 9 miles(approx. 15Km) At Northern level he competed as a ‘Boy’ in 1962 through to Senior whilst his first ‘National’ ECCA XC Championships was in 1964, in Leicester finishing in the mid 400’s from an entry of over 1100.
Martin was not a top-class runner – his admission – but he had the skills and persuasion to get others to turn out and represent the Harriers at many events, championships, road races and social. He had the knack of gathering help from parents & grandparents to encourage the club’s youngsters and this led the way for many successes for the club for many years up and down the country.
As his running career diminished, he was drawn into officiating where he specialised in ‘rope control’ when finishing funnels where required again carrying out this duty at Yorkshire, Northern and National championships and being ‘chief’ on many occasions.
In addition to the above Martin served on the Yorkshire XC committee, a selector for the County and was President in 1975/76 & 1976/77, a member on the Northern XC for many years whilst also representing the North at English XC meetings. He was made a Life Vice President of the Bradford & District Cross Country Association in 1968.
Although not seen much in recent years he has always been a staunch supporter of Holmfirth Harriers AC and enjoyed their company whenever he could join them.
He leaves a widow, Alison, to whom he had been married for over 35 years.