Rediscovered diaries penned by an inventive businessman who earned the nickname ‘Mr Bristol City’ form the basis of a fascinating new book about his remarkable life.
Harry Dolman OBE dedicated nearly 40 years of his life to the football club he loved, as director, chairman and president.
His many contributions to the club included designing the stand named after him at his beloved Ashton Gate stadium, as well as introducing (after designing them himself) the ground’s first floodlights and entry turnstiles.
Harry Dolman: The Millionaire Inventor Who Became “Mr Bristol City”, by Martin Powell and Clive Burlton, has been published by Bristol Books.
Harry’s widow, Marina Dolman MBE, President of Bristol City FC, said: “During research for the book, I was thrilled to re-discover Harry’s hand-written notes with his version of events.
“Some were drafts for speeches he gave, others just recollections he jotted down for his own amusement and record. They make this account of his life more accurate than we could ever have imagined.”
The book describes how Harry rose from his humble rural roots in Wiltshire to a Rolls Royce-driving multi-millionaire with more than 100 patents to his name, from London Underground ticket machines to egg grading machines, a laundry marking system and a coin slot roulette wheel. He even built a Flying Flea single-seat, ultra-light, aircraft, which is now on display in the M Shed museum.
Harry, who received the OBE for services to export in 1970, when head of Brecknell, Dolman and Rogers, could design a machine that would make millions, see solutions where others saw problems, and could sketch out a football stand on the back of a cigarette packet, and see it to fruition.
But he will, perhaps, be best remembered for his long association with Bristol City FC, where he invested considerable time and plenty of cash from his own pocket in passionate pursuit of bringing top-flight football to Bristol.
In April 1976 a 1-0 win in front of more than 27,000 fans saw City secure promotion, and for the then 79-year-old Harry, the fulfilment of that dream of First Division football. Four days later, at the last game of the season, he received a standing ovation from the appreciative Ashton Gate crowd.
The new book offers a revealing insight into Harry’s business acumen as well as a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the trials and tribulations of running a football club.
Marina said: “I hope that this book helps to preserve his memory, and show others how much one man, with determination and talent, can achieve.”
The book will be launched at Ashton Gate Stadium on Wednesday November 15 from 6pm to 8pm when those who remember Harry will be celebrating the publication. The book Harry Dolman: The Millionaire Inventor Who Became “Mr Bristol City”, will be on sale from the Bristol City shop (£12).