By Peter Yates
No list of great British Strongmen would be complete without the name Edward Aston. Born in Yorkshire, England in 1882 he had a normal childhood and was a healthy and energetic boy. While hiking the countryside he would engage in strength contests with his older brothers, lifting and throwing rocks and fallen branches. After seeing a Strongman act in Bradford with his father he started lifting block weights, found in industry, of 28 and 56lbs at the age of 10.
In his teenage years he excelled in gymnastics, running and all-round sports, though it was not until the age of 18 that he joined a weightlifting club in Bradford. It was apparent however from the start that he possessed great potential.
On August 4th, 1910 an historic competition took place between Aston and the Bavarian dynamo, Maxick. This was to decide the middleweight champion of the world, Aston emerged the winner. The following year he engaged in a contest with Thomas Inch for the title ‘Britain’s strongest man,’ once again emerging victorious. This was a title Aston retained until retiring undefeated in 1934.
In 1913 at London’s Chrystal Palace, he became the first Englishman to bent press 300lb at a body weight of 170lb.At his heaviest he weighed no more than 170lb yet easily beat those much heavier than he.
Like many strongmen of the time he also engaged in wrestling. After witnessing him in a bout, the great wrestler George Hackenschmidt congratulated him on his skill in that art. Praise indeed. He was also admired by the Saxon brothers, being that he was one of a very few ever to hoist their challenge bag of flour but not exactly in the manner prescribed. Aston emphasized health first and believed true strength should have its base in good health. He also said if heavy weights are desired to be lifted then one must train with heavy weights. He was well known for his grip strength and wrote many training courses including one on grip.
Probably not known to many but his son was the comedy acrobat/strongman Ted Durante [Edward Aston Jr.] and his granddaughter is Jay Aston of the British pop group Bucks Fizz.
©Edward Aston by Peter Yates