Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Brief History of World Trampoline - - Leading Up to the 1964 First World Championships

The grand sport of trampoline bounced to international status 
with the 
First World Trampoline Championships held in 
London on March 21, 1964. 

Twelve countries sent their finest trampoline athletes to 
the gala event; each hoping to capture the title of
Best in the World!

L-R: Frank LaDue, Kurt Baechler, Annie and George Nissen,
and Duane F. Bruce at the Basel Turnfest, Switzerland,  1959
The origins of trampoline as sport began in the 1930’s, when young George Nissen invented and built trampolines designed for school and college use. 

By 1958, following the wide acceptance of his trampoline throughout the United States, George Nissen and his experts at the Nissen Trampoline Company focused their efforts east, across the Atlantic Ocean.  

Here is a wonderful historical film from 1955, “Whatever Goes Up,” featuring George Nissen, the inventor of the trampoline, his wife Annie and their performing partner Frank LaDue.

View here or on YouTube: 

Ted Blake 
Meanwhile, George employed Ted Blake who in 1949, had introduced trampoline into the British school curriculum, and ultimately became Managing Director of Nissen Trampoline Ltd. in Romford, Essex.

Ted Blake, Kurt Baechler and Frank LaDue, organized the trampoline clinics, courses and competitions that spread beyond the United Kingdom, throughout Continental Europe and even into South Africa.  

Video: Frank LaDue and Kurt Baechler, in Switzerland during the late 1950s - - demonstrating the trampoline:
View here or on YouTube: 

The sport quickly took hold thanks to the support and praise from many, including these early advocates and pioneer teachers:

George Nissen and Annie Nissen
Nissen-Eterna Cup. Wasen, Switzerland. 1958
Individual trampoline clubs within each 
country staged their own contests and demonstrations and in August of 1958, Kurt Baechler organized the Nissen-Eterna Cup, in Wassen, Switzerland. Although it was not a formal “national” competition, the Nissen-Eterna Cup provided nearly fifty athletes who participated with the opportunity to compare their skills against those from other clubs. The Nissen-Eterna Cup continues on today and holds the distinction of being the longest-running trampoline competition in the world. 

The British National Trampoline Championships (Middlesex, UK) in 1959 opened the door for other countries to follow suit and host their own now-official national competitions. Soon, borders were crossed as neighboring countries staged multi-nation contests and challenges.

The circle of international competition expanded even further when in 1960, a team of six Americans returning from a 42-day tour of South Africa accepted an invitation to bounce against their European counterparts in Freiberg, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland. This was the first official competition between trampolinists representing America andEurope.
Chuck Clarkson, Ron Munn, Charles Bates, Ed Cole,
Ann Coleman and Barbara Gallegher

By the end of 1963, George Nissen, Ted Blake, and Kurt Baechler knew that there was enough interest in the sport of trampoline to justify a world championship. The trio elected Ted Blake to organize and run the event, which was slated for March 21,1964 in London.

Ted promptly secured stately Royal Albert Hall for the competition!

Friday, March 20th, 1964 – Spirits were high as athletes, judges, and officials (all guests of the British Amateur Gymnastic Association and Nissen Trampoline Company) assembled at competition headquarters; the prestigious Prince of Wales Hotel. It was the the largest group ever assembled for what would be the First World’s Open Trampoline Championships.



  1. Thanks Dagmar, you are doing a tremendous job; much great history would be lost without your efforts. George Hery

  2. some of the photographs are now iconic images

  3. This is fantastic! I love knowing the history of a sport that encompasses my life. THANK YOU!!

  4. I remember this so well!! We had a Trampoline quite early at School,( Think solid Bed, NO Coverall Pads) BUT most importantly we had two newly qualified teachers from Cardiff (Syd Aaron) who were instrumental in fanning the flames of enthusiasm.I sat and watched the likes of Julie Wills I read Two seconds of freedom in a weekend!! I now have a team of my own and enjoy their enthusiasm


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