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Postle, Arthur Benjamin (1881–1965)

by J. R. Ross

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Arthur Benjamin Postle (1881-1965), professional runner, was born on 8 March 1881 at Springside near Beauaraba (later Pittsworth) on the Darling Downs, Queensland, second of nine children of Melbourne-born Arthur Benjamin Postle, selector, and his English wife Frances, née Honor. He was educated to the fifth grade at Springside State School (1888-93), where he showed early running talent.

On leaving school Postle worked on the family farm and, despite his father's disapproval, competed successfully at professional athletics meetings around the Downs and south-east Queensland, firstly in juvenile events and, from 16, in open company. He was coached by his uncle Fred Postle, and trained on a rough running-track cut in the bush on his uncle's adjoining property.

He left the farm in 1899 to pursue his athletic career. Although he was unsuccessful in the Stawell Gifts of 1901 and 1903 and was never to win this premier event, his name became well-known through his victories at Charters Towers and Townsville in 1904-05. He achieved world fame in his crimson costume as 'The Crimson Flash' before a crowd of 20,000 at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, on 5 December 1906 by defeating the Irish world champion, R. B. Day, who was brought out to the goldfields of Western Australia by promoter Rufe Naylor. At this time athlete Jack Todd became Arthur's trainer; they were later to marry sisters and share a lifelong friendship.

He earned the appellation of 'The Mighty Postle' by his defeat of the new English champion W. Growcott in England in 1908. His running career in England, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand was highlighted by his contests with the South African Reg Walker and his rivalry with the champion Australian, Jack Donaldson ('The Blue Streak'). Donaldson won most encounters of 100 yards or more, while Postle was virtually unbeatable over shorter distances. However, towards the end of his career, at Auckland in 1912, Postle did defeat Donaldson over 75, 150 and 200 yards, equalling his own record for the 75 and setting a new world record for the 200. Postle set the following world records: 50 yards (5.1 seconds), 60 (6 seconds), 75 (7.2 seconds), 80 (7.75 seconds) and 200 (19 seconds).

He married Edna Leadbeater at Southport, Lancashire, England, on 2 October 1912, and next year went into semi-retirement from running, operating his own auctioneering business at Memerambi, Queensland, and then a second-hand-dealership at Gympie. After an unsuccessful venture at the South Brisbane produce markets in the 1920s, he became a produce farmer in the Brisbane suburb of Coopers Plains. After selling the farm during World War II he retired, firstly to Southport, then to Wynnum, where he lived until his death in an ambulance in Brisbane on 21 April 1965. After a funeral at the Coorparoo Church of England, he was cremated. Three sons and one daughter survived him.

Throughout his life Postle maintained a passionate interest in running. Until his death he was a familiar sight in the Wynnum Memorial Park, giving advice to any youngsters who cared to attend his regular coaching sessions.

Select Bibliography

  • Referee (Sydney), 20 Mar 1912
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 1, 8, 16, 22, 29 Jan, 5, 13, 19, 26 Feb, 5, 12, 19 Mar 1949
  • Sporting Globe, 5 Nov 1955
  • scrapbooks and biographical material (privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

J. R. Ross, 'Postle, Arthur Benjamin (1881–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/postle-arthur-benjamin-8083/text14105, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 18 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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