One in a series of articles checking out the careers of Warrington's sporting legends, who take a much deserved place in our Hall of Heroes

THIS week we take a look at the life of the gentleman with a claim to be Warrington’s first Olympic medallist.

The 1908 Summer Olympic Games were due to be staged in Rome, but the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906, which killed more than 100 people, saw the Italian Government having to reinvest the money set aside for the Games into rebuilding a desecrated Naples.

With the 1904 Olympics staged in St Louis, USA, the organisers were keen to keep the 1908 edition in Europe and an offer to host from the British Olympic Association was accepted.

The Games were to be held at London’s White City Stadium, demolished in 1985, alongside the Franco-British Exhibition – at the time, the country’s largest exhibition celebrating the UK and France’s Entente Cordiale.

However, Walter John Henry Jones would make his debut, and only, appearance in the Olympics further south on the banks of the River Thames at The Hurlingham Club, in Fulham.

Jones was born at The Elms, in Moore, on June 4, 1866 to parents William Charles Jones and Lucretia Elizabeth Jones.

At that time, Moore was described as a village and township in Runcorn parish, Cheshire, 3¼ miles south west of Warrington though properties had a Warrington letterbox. To this day, Moore is a parish in the borough of Halton although residential addresses are marked Warrington.

It remains a matter of debate as to whether Jones can actually be labelled as the first Warrington-born Olympian, or, as is generally conceded, that honour lies with Richard Egington as a rower at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Jones was born into a wealth family, with his father the owner of Jones Brothers Cotton Mills near Tyldesley – the first of which was built in 1818.

He was a keen sportsman, and a fine one, from an early age and this ability was harnessed while being educated at the prestigious Harrow School.

Jones then joined Jesus College, Cambridge in 1884 and upon leaving university headed back to Cheshire and Blakemere Hall, near Northwich.

From playing polo as a student, primarily for the rugby team, it would be a long time until Jones, who also enjoyed big-game hunting and fisihing, got his shot at the Olympics.

By the time the 1908 Games rolled into London he was also playing for his own Blakemere team, but time spent living at Fulham’s Hurlingham Lodge booked him a spot on one of three Great Britain teams.

It was to be only the second time polo featured at the Olympics – London organisers also introduced a one-off ‘Cycle Polo’ for 1908 – having previously been played by clubs, rather than countries, at Paris in 1900.

The three teams to take part in 1908 all did so in representing the British Olympic Association; Hurlingham Club, Roehampton and Ireland.

Jones, aged 42 at the time and the competition’s oldest participant, was part of the Hurlingham Club side, along with teammates Walter Buckmaster, Frederick Freake and John Wodehouse, 3rd Earl of Kimberley.

The Warrington-born athlete scored the first goal of the competition to put Hurlingham ahead in the second period against Roehampton on June 18, 1908.

However, Roehampton came back through two goals in the third period and one in the fifth without reply, before defeating Roehampton again in the second of a two-legged affair.

They would also see off Ireland to take the gold medal, while Jones and co had to settle for silver after it was decided there would be no tie break between the two losers.

Jones, a cotton broker, married Maud, who happened to be the widow of a another Lancashire cotton magnate, George Lyttelton Dewhurst, from Beechwood, Lymm.

In doing so he gained a stepson, but a 24-year-old Lieutenant George Littleton Dewhurst of the Rifle Brigade was killed in action on the Somme in July 1916.

Jones was an important collector of first editions and watercolours and by the time of his death on April 14, 1932 he left behind a net estate of £327,406.

If you have any pictures, information or stories about Warrington sporting legends we have already covered or those you feel should make the Hall of Heroes, then please send them to