Hole in the Wall Darlington public house in Darlington’s market square remembers club legend George Butterfield. After running the International Cross Country Championship in 1906, George Butterfield won the Northern title at 440 yard and 1 mile that summer. He was the winner of the AAA mile title for three successive years (1904-06) with his winning time of 4:18.4 in 1906 topping the world rankings for the year.
In the early stages of his career he excelled as a distance runner, finishing 2nd in the 1904 AAA 10 miles but he later proved to be a talented half miler. In 1908 he could not quite produce his form of earlier years at the Olympic Games. He was killed in action while serving as a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery.
George Butterfield was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1879. He was a British amateur athlete who ran for the Darlington Harriers. He won the mile English championship three years running from 1905-1907. In 1906, George ‘Butt’ Butterfield ran the world’s fastest mile, and in 1908 he competed for Britain at the 1908 London Olympics. Although he came second in his semi-final heat for the 800 metres, he could not advance to the final due to a controversial decision to only allow the winner of each heat to advance. He also competed in the 1500 metres, reaching third place in his semi-final heat. The Northern Despatch recorded in his obituary that he had once raced a greyhound and won.
George Butterfield married Mary Cecilia ‘Cissy’ Calvert in Norton on 18 May 1901. They had a son, Charles Ronald on 13 October 1908 (died 1971). George Butterfield was the publican and hotel manager for the Hole in the wall Hotel in Darlington (1911 census). A plaque still there today commemorates his life.
In December 1915, George Butterfield attested under the Derby Scheme that he was willing to enlist in the war effort when necessary. As a married man, he was called up after the eligible single men, enlisting for ‘short service’ on 28 June 1916. George Butterfield served in France and Flanders as a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. George Butterfield was killed in action on 24 September 1917. He is buried in Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, Ypres. George Butterfield was one of 50 British Olympic athletes who died during the First World War.
800m 1.57.2 (1906) 1500 4.11.8 (1908)
Northern Echo coverage of the plaque being added to the Hole in the Wall pub outside wall to mark the great man
George and his family
Read more about George here