Ironsides News


Dear Ironsides Family, 

It is with great sadness that the club has learned of the recent passing of Albert E T ‘Bert’ Bigmore, one of the Founding Fathers of Ironsides.

A stalwart of both Ironsides Rugby & Cricket Club history, Bert was deservedly added to the Honorary Members list for Battersea Ironsides Rugby Football Club (BIRFC), in March 2019 during the club’s 75th year anniversary. Bert was 1st XV Rugby Club skipper from the mid 1940s for 13 seasons!! Bert also played Rugby Netball and leadership was instrumental in the stabilising of the cricket section for 15 years also. 

Bert served as a cadet under Lt. Col E.H. St Maur-Toope at St John’s Hill drill hall, in Battersea. In 1943, when Lt. Col E.H. St Maur-Toope and Bert Bigmore formed a band of brothers from the British Army’s Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) - their vision was to compete on home soil and give the RTR troops a combative distraction during the tumultuous times of World War 2.

Despite scrummaging with mortars being dropped in the distance, they played courageously with Jerseys that were initially borrowed and dyed green. During rainy days, the dye ran down the lads’ arms and legs and they got an upgrade when Bert’s wife, Millie, sewed on all the club badges onto those jerseys by hand. Bert’s wife Millie also made and embroidered all the original club badges. 

Quoted in a 1950s article by George Whiting, Bert who was a Welder by trade was quoted as saying ‘Battersea All Sorts I suppose we should call ourselves’. A schilling a game and 5 a season subscription. Policeman, railway men, electricians. Even Heavyweight Boxers such as Don Cockell from Balham, who fought Rocky Marciano for the World Title,  were led by their gigantic Captain, Bert Bigmore. 

The annual trip, with families, was a day out at Frensham Ponds. These were working class lads who had been guided by Colonel Toope to make something of themselves. Bert went on to be a London Society referee after he finished playing at Ironsides and was a former Chairman of the club in the late 60’s. The first member and one of only 3 members in the club’s 75 year history to have achieved such an honour of being 1st XV Captain & Chairman within Ironsides Rugby. 

Lt. Col E.H. St Maur-Toope and Mr. Bigmore would surely be content knowing we have maintained the same level of humility at the club today which Battersea Ironsides RFC which was built upon all those 75 years ago. 
It’s fair to say Ironsides started from very humble beginnings and it’s quite amazing that we have still have maintained our links with the RTR.

It’s also fair to say that Bert and his comrades would be mightily proud with how our club has evolved over the decades since their first furore in Streatham.

Bert did convey a message to us via his daughter Beverly, during the 2018 Cambrai 101 year remembrance commemoration last November. Bert remembered his days in the Cadets and in Ironsides colours very fondly and felt they were some of the best times he’s enjoyed during his almost 92 year tenure.

‘I doubt if Battersea Ironsides will ever make history’ was written in that 1950s article...I wonder if George had factored in the possibilities of recent Ironsides Rugby achievements; 

  • International Players from a wide variety of rugby tiers which of course includes the most successful rugby product of Ironsides & local rugby hero, Kyle Sinckler 
  • An invincible season for the 1st XV which included lifting a National Championship played on the hallowed turf of Twickenham 
  • Playing Membership across all sections of over 1200 which now also includes Men, Women, Boys & Girls’ teams 
  • Guinness World Record Holders for the largest Rugby Tour!
  • A Rugby Club which donated over £10k to charities to celebrate our 75th season.  
It’s phenomenal that a rudimentary Vision of a few Leaders in a single rugby team has manifested itself to become a behemoth in Community Rugby 75 years on.

From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow

Thank you Bert, what an incredible Legacy you have left.

2,3 to you

Bert’s funeral service is  on at 11am Monday October 28th at Banbury Crematorium  postcode OX16 1ST  with the wake back at the parish church hall in Brackley NN13 7BB, approx 12 miles away

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