The Club was founded in 1883 and the earliest recorded reference was in an article that
appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on 23rd January 1884:-
"The first handicap in connection with this club was run yesterday evening. Twenty-four members started from the Old Bell, Stoke, at about 8.30 for Freston Boot and back and notwithstanding the heaviness of the roads and the darkness of the evening good time was made. This being the first event of the kind, large numbers of spectators assembled outside the headquarters and lined Vernon Street with an interest scarcely expected by the club."
The Old Bell was to be the home of the club for it's first ten years but by the turn of the century it had relocated to the Coach and Horses in Upper Brook Street via a spell at the Rose Hotel in St.Peter's Street. The club enjoyed a long association with the Coach and Horses and opened it's doors to a ladies section in the late 1930s although there were apparently considerable misgivings on both sides. In 1961 the club lost the use of the Coach and Horses and was forced to make it's own facilities at the Alderman Road recreation ground. Attempts were made to have a cinder track installed at the recreation ground but were rejected by the council. With limited track facilities in Ipswich home track and field meetings of any note tended to be held at Colchester or Bury. It wasn't until 1981 when the synthetic track at Northgate was opened that the club moved to a permanent track headquarters. Ironically, new UK Athletics rules on safety are once again forcing the Harriers to use the track at Bury for some meetings.
Cross country, road running and walking seem to have had a much higher profile in the club in the past and a couple of notable achievements during the club's early years came at cross country where the club won the North of the Thames title in 1923 and the Eastern Counties Championships in 1938. Photographic evidence of this can be seen below:-
Winners of the North of the Thames Cross Country Championships 1923
Winners of the Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships 1938.
Early track and field competitions were inter-club affairs and Harriers didn't venture into
league competition until they joined the Southern Men's League in the 1960s. Since then participation
in various leagues has increased and there is no longer room for the friendly inter-club meetings of the
early days. The most recent addition was the affiliation to the Eastern Veterans League in 2001.
Like most clubs, records and rankings play an important part in it's history and details of early club records were recorded by Harold Cockrill from 1892. These records, for example, show a 5 mile out and back road race, later called The Peter Thurlow race, being run in 1896 from the Rose Hotel in St Peters Street to Tuddenham. The race survived until the 1980s but hasn't been run for some time now.