As a 14-year-old boy, spending time in the 1948 London Olympic athletes’ camp in Richmond Park was an exciting time.
And Frank Dobson, now 76, did just that when he helped his parents develop athletes’ photographs through the family’s photographic business.
Kingston Photographic got the concession to print photographs taken by the athletes, and remarkably, given the rationing that continued to grip Britain after the war, the Government gave the firm a
special allowance to buy film.
The money raised a few eyebrows and at one point the bank manager called Mr Dobson’s mother in for a word, where she was met by two policemen keen to know where the cash had come from.
Mr Dobson said: “It wasn’t a huge amount – minute compared to what it would be now.
“The whole thing was on a shoestring budget.”
The family business served the Olympic Village, a converted military camp in Richmond Park, home to more than 1,500 athletes.
Mr Dobson said: “There was a real buzz around it because it was just after the war and it was something the country needed.”
The camp had a make-do-and-mend feel to it, unsurprising given the entire Games only had a budget of £600,000, and even air raid shelters were converted into food stores.
Some teams left in dismay, unhappy with the conditions.
Mr Dobson said they were sparse, but acceptable, although admitted modern day athletes would not put up with the same conditions now.
Mr Dobson later competed in the 1960 Rome Olympics, in the 50m free pistol category. He failed to win a medal, but said it was an experience he would never forget and “great fun”.