Featured Customer – His (or his Grandmother’s) Story…

Lost Olympics by Ian Hugh McAllister

Lost Olympics - The Story of Hilda James

The story of Hilda James and some items of memorabilia. Image courtesy of Ian McAllister.

Whether you are interested in a little piece of British history, Olympic sports or the story of an influential British leading lady, the story of Hilda James will inspire. Written by her grandson Ian McAllister “Lost Olympics” is Hilda’s story of awful knitted swimsuits, breaking World records, winning an Olympic silver medal and life as a celebrity aboard a cruise ship.

Born Hilda Marjorie James in April 1904, Hilda was to become a swimming success in British history. From humble beginnings, Hilda’s father, John, worked in a Liverpool postal sorting office. Supporting his wife and children on the low postal wage was a struggle. John was often found cleaning windows, doing odd jobs or partaking in a bit of rag-and-bone trade to make ends meet.

Hilda was the family tomboy. She was skinny and athletic. However, her initial swimming lessons at Garston’s Victorian Swimming Baths filled her with dread and after a couple of successful dodge attempts she was finally, unwillingly, led to the shallow end of the swimming pool. However by 1920, Hilda had achieved an Olympic silver medal.

Between 1925 to 1930, Hilda worked on one of the Cunard cruise ships where she met her husband William McAllister. They married in 1930 and had a son together. Hilda passed away in 1982 but her proud grandson Ian has written her story. Ian has dedicated the book to his father, Hilda’s only son, Donald Hugh McAllister.

writing desk of Ian McAllister, writer

Ian McAllister at his writing desk purchased from Saxen. Image supplied by Ian McAllister with thanks.

Ian McAllister purchased his writing desk from Saxen and contacted us with the photograph of him sitting at his

“…fantastic desk…. Here at my workstation I have just finished my first book, which is a biography of my grandmother Hilda James.”


We love to hear stories but to hear one as inspiring as Hilda’s has been a real treat. To find out more about Ian visit him on Facebook and to find out more about Hilda buy Ian’s book!

If you are looking for a writing desk to write your first book visit us at Saxen. We have a wide variety of writing desks suitable for the home office or workplace!


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