Brian Hewson dead aged 89: Ex-Team GB Olympian and one of the first athletes to run four-minute mile passes away

FORMER TEAM GB Olympic star Brian Hewson has died aged 89.

The late athlete was one of the first men to run a four-minute mile when clocking 3:59.8 at the White City Stadium in London on May 28, 1955.

Former Team GB Olympian Brian Hewson has died aged 89Credit: Getty

The middle-distance runner went on to compete at both the 1956 and 1960 Olympics and won the gold in the 1500 metres at the 1958 European Championships.

Hewson, who was born in Croydon, Surrey in 1933, also took silver twice at the Commonwealth Games in 1954 and 1958 over 880 yards.

Born in Croydon, Surrey, in 1933, Hewson went to Pollards Hill Junior School, Pollards Hill, London, and continued his education at Mitcham Grammar School, London. Aged 16, he trained in tailoring at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London.

Having trained as a tailor at 16, he also began to run quarter miles and soon began being coached by Frank Drew before then being mentored by Austrian coach Franz Stampfl following the former’s death.


Hewson moved up to run the mile and at the British Games Meeting he became only the fourth man in the world to run a four-minute mile.

This was the same time achieved by Chris Chatterway in the same race, which was won by Laszlo Tabori with a time of 3:59.0. Hewson was placed third in the race.

 In the 1956 Olympics at Melbourne, Australia, the Team GB runner was leading the 1500 metres final on the final straight only to be then passed by four men with Ron Delany taking gold.

Hewson’s best season was in 1958 where he won the European gold medal and became the fastest Englishman over 880 yards with a personal best of 1:47.0.

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Only Derek Johnson had run faster over 800 metres and Roger Bannister and Derek Ibbotson faster over the mile.

At the 1960 Rome Olympics in Italy, Hewson damaged a calf muscle six weeks before the event.

In his qualifying heat for the 800 metres he led for 700 metres before being passed by three runners and placed fourth, and so was eliminated from the final.

He retired from athletics in 1960 to continue his career as a tailor, eventually setting up his own company in the East End of London.

The track icon then became a women’s fashion buyer for English Lady and subsequently sportswear and sporting goods buyer for Debenhams prior to joining the Incentive Group where he was involved in the design and manufacture of corporate uniforms.

He was married to Alison and the couple had three children together, James, Caroline and Charles.

They divorced in 1980 and Hewson remarried to Marion Stiff and has four stepchildren Tim, Sally, Robert and Penny.

He was one of the first men to run the four-minute mileCredit: Getty

His daughter Caroline told SunSport: “He died peacefully in Cape Town where he had relocated in 2005 on Tuesday. 

“We are all inspired by his discipline, his determination and drive when you think that back when he competed on an international level he was still holding down a full time job as a tailor at Simpson Piccadilly in London!

“We are all very competitive, we all have that grit, drive and determination that shone through in everything my father did.

“My brother Charles still runs, I rowed competitively whilst at university. The grandchildren are highly competitive and sports driven, running both 800, 1500 and cross country as well as swimming, gym and water polo.

“I was privileged to attend one of the Garden Parties The Queen put on to celebrate Sports and Olympians in Great Britain, so I rubbed shoulders with the elite of the elite in the sporting world. That blew my mind.”

She added: “My dad also spoke several times at Chiltern Athletics to encourage and inspire the younger athletes. For many years he was President of Mitcham Athletics and often officiated at Crystal Palace.

“There will be a memorial service in November as a celebration of his life. It is such a huge loss but we are all determined to honour him.”

Caroline’s brother and Hewson’s son, Charles, said: “He continues to inspire me in my participation in all sports, and particularly my running – although I’m nowhere near Dad’s level.

“I help organise and run a running club, JPMorgan RC – and enjoy seeing the success of other better athletes, as Dad did once he retired from competitive athletics.

“I have fond memories of being introduced to several athletes in the 70s and 80s who dad had helped in their career, through his officiating and organisation of athletics meets at Crystal Palace.”

Source: Athletics -


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