My Olympic connection

With the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner, it seemed a fitting time to learn about the Olympic connection in my family tree.

When I first started tracing my family history a couple of years ago, my nan mentioned that my great-great-aunt Lilie Jones (the sister of my great-grandfather) married an Olympic athlete named Ernest Johnson. My nan was a bridesmaid at the wedding and has a copy of this photo of the couple:

Lilie Jones and Ernest Johnson’s wedding


A quick search of the marriage records at findmypast.co.uk told me that Lilie and Ernest married in Lambeth, London in the June quarter of 1937. I used this information to order a copy of their marriage certificate from the General Register Office.

Lilie Jones and Ernest Johnson’s marriage certificate


The marriage certificate tells me that my great-great-aunt was employed as a floor walker and that Ernest was a plumber – not giving much of a clue as to his athletic prowess! Luckily, the internet was a bit more forthcoming and I spotted this entry in an Olympic database:

Ernest Johnson’s profile at DatabaseOlympics.com


My nan was able to confirm that Ernest competed at the Los Angeles and Berlin Olympic Games in 1932 and 1936 as part of Great Britain’s team pursuit cycling team. Amazingly, he won a bronze medal at both! My nan also produced this incredible photo of Ernest and the rest of the team – she believes it was taken at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Ernest Johnson is on the far right.

Team pursuit cycling team at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games


Although it’s nothing compared to Ernest’s incredible achievement, I’m very lucky to have my own Olympic connection this year. I’m currently rehearsing hard as I’ll be taking part in the London 2012 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in just a few weeks’ time. It’s going to be an amazing experience and will now feel even more special because I know that my great-great-uncle would have been one of the athletes parading around the stadium 80 years ago.

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17 Responses to “My Olympic connection”

  1. steve forrester Says:

    Ernie Johnson was a member of the Belle Vue Cycling Club when he competed at the Olympics. When he died his relatives donated his racing jersey and team cap for the club’s archives.They are currently on display at the Brooklands Motor Museum in Surrey as part of their special 2012 Olympic attractions.

  2. Amy Says:

    Thank you so much for letting me know, Steve. I’m definitely going to pay them a visit!

  3. Julie Says:

    Was Ernest’s mother Rose Margaret by any chance? We always heard stories that our great-aunt had a son that participated in the olympics.

  4. Amy Says:

    Hi Julie, I believe Ernest’s parents were Arthur William Johnson and Mary Magdalen Targett.

    • Julie Says:

      Thanks for your response Amy. Looks like I need to keep searching for my olympic connection. Well done to your great-grandfather winning bronze for England.

  5. Ernest Johnson’s cap and jersey from the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games « Amy: Finding My Past Says:

    […] Amy: Finding My Past « My Olympic connection […]

  6. An amazing photo of the Jones family | Amy: Finding My Past Says:

    […] Lilie Jones (who went on to marry Olympic athlete, Ernest Johnson) […]

  7. Christine Cooper Says:

    Hi Amy, I think you are doing a marvellous job of piecing together our family history. I am Christine Lake Johnson and now Cooper. Ernie and Lilie’s daughter. Today my husband Rob has taken old photos of Ernie’s cycling days, his medals and his 1936 Olympic blazer to Dorking Museum where they are having a small cycling exhibit. It prompted us to look on line. How exciting. Ernie was a great Olympian and a lovely man. It is 17 years since he died and I miss him all the time. Christine

    • Amy Says:

      Hi Christine, thanks so much for commenting! I may have to take a trip to Dorking Museum to see these – thanks very much for letting me know.

      • Christine Cooper Says:

        Hi Amy, if you do think of coming to Dorking please contact us, we would love to meet you and there is always tea/coffee/lunch etc available here. We live on the western edge of Dorking – a 10 minute walk from the town centre. Best wishes Chris

    • Amy Says:

      That’s very kind of you, thank you! I’ll send you an email when I plan a visit.

  8. Jenny Lock Says:

    Hi Amy
    My father partnered Ernie Johnson on a tandem for the Belle Vue club to achieve a new club record in 1935 , They cycled for 50 miles in 1 Hour 57 minutes. My father’s name was Charlie
    Summerfield and I have 18 of his medals,including the Gold for this record, a Brooklands enamel badge and 2 Bell Vue lapel buttons.
    Jenny Lock nee Summerfield

    • Amy Says:

      Hi Jenny, thanks so much for commenting. This is completely new information for me – very interesting! Do you have any documents about the club record at all?

  9. Jenny Lock Says:

    I haven’t got any but I will ask my brother and sister.I do remember there being a wooden plaque with metal front. It was still about when my father died in 1999.and if it still exists I will try and get a photo for you. Have you found any archives for the Belle Vue club?

  10. Jenny Lock Says:

    HIi Amy,
    My brother has forwarded some photos to me, one of two people
    on a tandem which he has always presumed was Ernie Johnson and my Dad.There is also a picture of the plaque presented to my Dad for the record they achieved.It would be easier for me to E Mail these to you if you don’t mind giving me your address. I will attempt to take a photo of his medal which also has Ernies name on it
    Jenny

    • Amy Says:

      How exciting! Thanks so much for looking for me. I’ve just emailed you using the email address you’ve registered on WordPress with – please let me know if it doesn’t work for any reason and I’ll try again.

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