Looking back at the final Aylesbury boxing tournament 60 years on, before a Town Hall fire changed everything

A famous boxing tournament in the 60s went up in flames after Aylesbury Town Hall was destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 2:34 pm

The Titmus Trophy took place in Aylesbury throughout the 50s with the best boxers from the local boxing club and RAF Halton going toe to toe.

The final event of its kind took place 60 years ago on May 19 1961, with Aylesbury boxing club coming out on top, winning seven of nine bouts.

Another series between the boxing club and the RAF never took place after the town hall fire on March 14, 1962.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The original programme from the event provided by Graham Aldridge

Speaking in the Bucks Advertiser two days after the fire, Detective Inspector Vincent Hankins said: "We must treat this as arson. Someone was in there up to no good that night."

The programme from the event offers a snapshot into Aylesbury in the early 60's, out of dozens of businesses advertised in the programme, only Valerie Art Florists and Adams Garage still exist in the town.

Included in the winners' circle on the Aylesbury side that evening was Tony Picot, a national school champion. Bucks Herald reader and Titmus Trophy competitor, Graham Aldridge, believed Picot was the most talented boxer to ever come through Aylesbury Boxing Club.

Speaking 60 years on, Graham said: "He was a natural, a really powerful man. I used to have to spar with him and he'd give me a good hiding. He was the first boxer from Aylesbury to win a national school championship."

The list of bouts on that evening

The relationship between the RAF Halton base and the local boxing club meant, Halton used to send there best boxers to train with the Club, at training the gym, at the Victoria Club, in Kingsbury Square.

Among the best boxers to venture inside the Aylesbury ring, was Dick McTaggart. Whilst the Scotsman was completing his National Service in the RAF, he boxed in Bucks.

McTaggart would go on to achieve Olympic glory claiming the gold medal in the lightweight division of the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. Graham added: "He would bring his medal with him to the boxing club. He used to show it to everyone. On one or two occasions he actually lost it in the cinema."

Although, the fire was a symbolic end to the Titmus Cup and a traditional tournament believed to have started soon after the second world war. Another major factor was the end of national service in Britain. The RAF just didn't have the same youngsters around to throw hands once national service ended in 1960 and the last serviceman were discharged three years later.

Some of the Aylesbury businesses sponsoring the event in 1961