Sir Harry Preston (1860 - 1936)
SPORTSMAN - HOTELIER - PHILANTHROPIST
"Men! Men fond of a fight--in the ring or in life; a quip and a crank; a glass of good wine; song; merry company! Men of high heart, high spirits and high courage...
...To them, to all those whom I am proud to grip by the hand and call 'friend,' I dedicate these recollections of nearly seventy years of life..."
~~ MEMORIES - Harry Preston - 1928 ~~
A friend of Princes
And the Prince of friends...
From humble beginnings as a schoolteacher and city clerk, to hotel magnate, philanthropist and sports entrepreneur, Sir Harry Preston became one of the most well-known personalities in the South of England. Giving up a possible future as a bantamweight boxer in his twenties, Harry instead pursued a career in the hotel trade where he developed a great aptitude for the business.
At his hotels he entertained people from the top end of every walk of life; the first aviators, early motorists, sports celebrities, politicians, inventors, millionaires, newspaper magnates, theatrical stars of the day, and royalty.
Harry's friendship with the royal princes, Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother George, Duke of York led to their patronage of Harry's boxing tournaments. It was through charitable events such as these and other philanthropic endeavours, which led to his knighthood in 1933.
On Sir Harry’s death in 1936, hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Brighton to watch his cortege pass by. The Brighton Herald wrote:
“The passing of Sir Harry marks the closing of a chapter in the history of Brighton…. Brighton has lost her greatest ambassador, and the realm of sport one of its greatest figures“.
Sir Harry was born in Gloucestershire in South West England during the Victorian era. His passion for sports developed from an early age, and it was this passion, combined with his entrepreneurial spirit that shaped his life and career. Here are some highlights from that eventful life…
1860: Born in Cheltenham
John Henry (Harry) Preston was born on 19th February 1860 into a middle-class family in Queen Street, Cheltenham. He was the second child and first son of…Read more
1870-80s: Early Career
Harry was educated privately and initially obeyed his father’s desire that he follow a scholastic career by becoming a pupil teacher in Lewisham, Kent, for three…Read more
1870-80s: The Young Sportsman
Outside of his job, Harry put his abundant energies into various sporting activities, including sculling, swimming, boxing and cycling. He was a member of the West…Read more
Harry On Film
Despite being born in Victorian times and living through the Edwardian era, Harry still managed to find his way onto film on a number of occasions.