Godfrey Brown

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameArthur Godfrey Kilner•Brown
Used nameGodfrey•Brown
Born21 February 1915 in Bankura, West Bengal (IND)
Died4 February 1995 in Coneyhurst, England (GBR)
Measurements183 cm / 70 kg
AffiliationsUniversity of Cambridge, Cambridge (GBR) / Birchfield Harriers, Birmingham (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 2


Twenty-one-year-old Godfrey Brown was the youngest member of the British 4×400 metres relay team at the 1936 Olympics. Despite his youth he was given the responsibility of running the testing anchor stage but he had already shown that he had the ability and the experience for this formidable task. Brown had been an outstanding athlete at Warwick School and when he went up to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, he was awarded his blue in his freshmen year, gaining the first of his three successive victories in the 440 yards in the match against Oxford. Later in 1935 he set a Fenner’s ground record of 48.1 seconds before making his international debut against Germany in Munich where he finished second to Bill Roberts.

Prior to the Berlin Olympics, Brown only ran four serious quarter-miles in 1936, all of which he won, but he had also run 9.7 seconds for 100 years and 1:56.0 seconds for 880 yards; this combination of speed and stamina boded well for his Olympic chances. After running 47.3 seconds in the semi-finals, Brown failed by inches to take the Olympic title but his time of 46.7 seconds was a new European record and one second faster than he had run before the Games began. In the 4×400 metre relay, Freddie Wolff, Godfrey Rampling and Bill Roberts handed Brown a six-metre lead over the American Al Fitch and with a fine run Brown stretch the advantage to 15 metres, breaking the tape in 3:09.0 seconds for another European record. In London, one week after the Olympics, Brown produced an even greater relay leg, when he snatched victory with his last strike for the British Empire in the match against the Americans. Brown’s 440 yard stage was unofficially timed at 45.9 seconds and he made up a three-yard deficit on the Olympic bronze medalist Jimmy LuValle.

In 1937, Godfrey Brown brought his personal best for 880 yards down to 1:52.2 seconds in America and later ran a relay leg of 1:51.2 seconds in the match against Germany when he comfortably held off the future world record holder Rudi Harbig. Brown was unbeaten in 1938 and was possibly the world’s leading quarter-miler that year. He was the AAA and European champion (400 m) and could count among his victories a win over the American champion Ray Malott. At the 1938 European Championships he also won the silver medal in the 4×400 metres relay (with Godfrey Brown and the non-Olympians John Barnes and Alfred Baldwin) and the bronze medal in the 4×100 metres relay (with Godfrey Brown, Ernie Page, and the non-Olympian Maurice Scarr). After a strenuous season, Brown only indulged in light training the following winter and this neglect showed when the 1939 track season arrived. Apart from winning the AAA 880 yard title in a modest time, he had an undistinguished season and in the last major race of his career he finished fourth and last in the 400 metres in the match against Germany in Cologne. After the war, he attempted a comeback but met with little success and soon retired completely.

Godfrey Brown was the most distinguished member of a notable sporting family. His sister Audrey (later Lady AK Court) was a silver medalist in the relay at the 1936 Olympic Games and his brother Ralph (later Sir RK Brown) won the 1934 AAA 440 yards hurdles title and finished third in the Empire Games later that season. Brown, who was the son of Reverend Arthur Brown, taught at Bedford School, King’s School, Rochester, and Cheltenham College and was the Headmaster of Worcester Royal Grammar School from 1950 to 1978.

Personal Bests: 100y – 9.9 (1936); 220y – 22.2 (1936); 400 – 46.7 (1936); 880y – 1:52.2 (1937).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Godfrey Brown
400 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Great Britain DNS
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 1 Gold

Olympic family relations

Special Notes