Olympic Torch
The 1948 Olympic Torch

The Olympic Flame or Olympic Torch is a symbol of the Olympic Games. Its origins lie in ancient Greece, where a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. The fire was reintroduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam and has been part of the modern Olympic Games ever since.

The torch for the 1948 London Olympics was designed by architect Ralph Lavers. Several torches were made for the various stages of the relay. They were cast in Hiduminium aluminium alloy with a length of 47 cm and a weight of 960 g. This classical design of a long handle capped by a cylindrical bowl re-appeared in many later torch designs. The torch used for the final entry to the stadium and the lighting of the cauldron was of a different design, so as to provide a spectacular flame for the opening ceremony.

The 1948 Torch route followed the most direct route from Greece to England. This originally meant a sea passage from Greece to Italy, then through Switzerland and France, and across the channel to England. However, two more countries, Luxembourg and Belgium, asked if the Flame could pass through their territory. The final route decided upon was -

  • Greece — The Flame went direct from Olympia to the coast at Katakolon, then by Greek warship to the island of Corfu
  • Adriatic — The Admiralty provided warships to make the sea passages. From Corfu, H.M.S. Whitesand Bay, a frigate of the Mediterranean Fleet, carried the Flame to Bari in Italy
  • Italy — Bari, Foggia, Pescara, Ancona, Rimini, Bologna, Parma, Piacenza, Milan, Domodossola, the Simplon Pass
  • Switzerland — Brig, Martigny, Montreux, Lausanne, Geneva, Perly
  • France — St. Julien en Genevois, Belgarde, Nantua, Lons-le-Saulnier, Poligny, Besancon, Vesoul, Epinal, Nancy, Metz, Thionville, Evrange
  • Luxembourg — Frisange, Esch, Luxembourg City, Ettelbruck, Wiltz
  • Belgium — Bras, Bastogne, Marche, Namur, Brussels, Renaix, Tournai, Hertain
  • France — Lille, Armentieres, St. Omer, Calais
  • English Channel — H.M.S. Bicester, a destroyer of the Nore Command, was detailed to carry the Flame from Calais to Dover.

Once in England the route from Dover to Wembley passed through Dover, Canterbury, Charing, Maidstone, Westerham, Redhill, Reigate, Dorking, Guildford, Bagshot, Ascot, Windsor, Slough, and Uxbridge.

The Olympic Torch passed through Lewisham borough on Monday 23rd July. It started from Deptford at 7.30 and went south through the borough passing into Bromley via the A21.

You can find out more about the route here London 2012 - torch relay

The Paralympic Torch passed through the borough on Wednesday 29th August. You can find out more on the Paralympic Torch Relay site

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