The following are Jack Kelly’s recollections of Trampolining in Eastern Region when it was regularly producing champions.
Trampolining in the East of England got off to a flying start in the 1960s thanks to the presence of the Nissen Trampoline Company setting up its first European factory in Hutton near Brentwood, Essex. The managing Director was Ted Blake a former Physical Education Teacher from that county. Ted had seen a circus act in 1949 where a pair of acrobats performed on a strange bouncing bed. He was so fascinated that he went backstage after the show to speak with the artistes. He wanted to know how he could get hold of a “trampoline” as these Americans called the apparatus. He was delighted when they told him they had a spare with them which he could buy!
Ted collected the “Nissen Junior Tramp” next day and brought it back to his school on the roof rack of his car! The next few months were absorbed in trying to get his school gymnastics team members to perform on the trampoline. With no other technical information other than what he possessed from tumbling, both he and his pupils developed an impressive range of somersaulting skills.
To cut a long story short, Ted managed to contact the sport’s originator George Nissen in Cedar Rapids Iowa who invited him to be the Nissen agent for Europe. As they say, “the rest is history!”
However there was no formal structure for the East until the British Trampoline Federation decided to create Regional Divisions in line with the National Sports Council’s guidelines. My recollection is that the first East Region Committee was constituted in 1967 and I found myself sitting in the chair!
Of course the current East region is a division of The British Gymnastics Association following the BTF amalgamating with BG ahead of the first Olympic trampoline event in 2000.
More to follow…
For those interested in the history of trampolining there is also a comprehensive resource on the subject on Brentwood TC’s website researched by them in conjunction with Ted’s son, Tim Blake.