Meet Norfolk’s Major Astley.. the first man to win Winter Olympic gold for Britain - and he was from Norwich

Norfolk Snow Sports Club, Trowse celebrating the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi with decents

Norfolk Snow Sports Club, Trowse celebrating the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi with decents of the slope in darkness with glow sticks. Photo: Steve Adams

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, reporter LAUREN COPE looks back on a famous gold medal secured by a Norfolk Man

Delaval Graham L’Estrange Astley. Photo; EDP Library

Delaval Graham L’Estrange Astley. Photo; EDP Library - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk-born curler was the first athlete to win gold for Great Britain in the Winter Olympics – although it was only recognised 82 years after he competed.

Major Delaval Graham L'Estrange Astley, who was born in 1868 in Aylsham, and competed for Great Britain in the 1924 games, where curling made its first appearance.

Great Britain won gold, but Astley, who was 55 at the time of the games, also played for the Swedish team in a play-off match against France and won silver, according to book Curling, Etcetera: A Whole Bunch of Stuff About the Roaring Game.

This bizarre twist means that Astley is the only athlete to have won two medals in the same event in a single Games.


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At the time, however, curling was considered to be only a demonstration event and the medals the British team won were not included in the official count.

It was only at the 1998 Winter Olympics that curling was adopted as an official sport.

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Research by Scottish newspaper The Herald in 2006 led the Independent Olympics Committee to declare that the medals won in those games should also be in the official count.

This confirmation meant that Astley was part of a team that won Great Britain's first Winter Olympics gold medal.

Sadly, Astley died at his home in Wroxham on May 17, 1951, at the age of 82, meaning he was never aware of the official recognition of his achievement.

As well as being a talented curler, Major Astley was involved in many sports including boxing, rugby, football, cricket, golf, yachting, fishing and hunting.

In fact, an obituary in the Eastern Daily Press on May 18 1951 wrote that 'few men had had a more versatile sporting career'.

The keen sportsman also represented Norfolk in a number of roles, including as an alderman of the council for 46 years, a magistrate for 45 and Deputy Lieutenant.

He was chairman on various committees on the council, including the mental hospital, highways management and mental deficiency acts committees.

In 1941, Major Astley was made a Companion of the Bath.

He was survived by two daughters and his wife Kate Clark, who he married in 1897.

Are you related to Major Astley? Contact Lauren Cope at lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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