Vol 12 No 20 Thomas Foster Knowles

Non-Hampton & Richmond Borough related posts.
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Things you may not know, or didn’t know you knew!

The Richest Man in Hampton

It is appropriate during our centenary to revisit articles written about the Club’s first Hon President, Thomas Foster Knowles (1852-1945), by myself, Tony Nash and Hampton Heroes. This article will concentrate on his influence his sporting contacts rather than his outside business interests and family.

Knowles bought the property ‘Riverside’ in 1891, perched alongside the River Thames and adjacent to the Thames. It would appear that his first love was sailing and he owned two yachts.

Owning a property on the banks of the Thames would certainly have been an attraction to someone who enjoyed sailing. Knowles belonged to the Thames Valley Sailing Club and he would later become Rear-Admiral of the club. This photo was tracked down by Tony!

Hampton Sailing Club, which is adjacent to Riverside House was not formed until 1944, some years after Knowles had left the area.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was understood by those of the ‘elite’ that organised sport was conducive to the public good. At first, sporting prowess was the preserve of the ‘upper classes’ and amateurism was the preferred way to go, but with the gradual reduction in working hours many middle and working class people set up their own sports clubs.

Knowles had a great interest in local sport, he was, at one time, Vice-President of Hampton Cricket Club, which appears to be no more. As regards football at various times Knowles was connected with Hampton Hill FC, who at one time had a ground on Wellington Road, before moving to Bushy Park. Knowles also had a connection to Old Hamptonians to whom he was elected President in, or around, 1902. Old Hamptonians later changed their name to Hampton United who played in red and blue halves (now who does that remind you of?). Reports relating to Hampton United are sporadic, however, there are a couple of reports from 1918 when WW1 was still in progress which would may suggest that they were in existence then, but no further mentions can be found.
It would come as no surprise that when Hampton FC were formed in 1921 that an approach would have been made to offer Knowles the Presidency. There are no records to show what his involvement was in the day-to-day running of the club. With his many other interests, both business and leisure, it is likely that it was more of an honorary nature, unlike the late Alan Simpson OBE, Club President for 50 years, who was involved in the club on a daily basis right up until his passing.
Thomas Knowles left the area in 1939 and returned to the North West.
The Old Historian
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