Amy Johnson was a world-famous pilot who was born in July 1903 at 154 St George’s Road, Hull. She studied at the Boulevard Municipal Secondary School (later known as Kingston High School) and at the University of Sheffield. She later became a pioneering pilot. She is most famous for her lone flight covering 11,000 miles from Croydon, England to Port Darwin, Australia (5-24 May 1930). This was undertaken in her Gipsy Moth aeroplane "Jason". As part of this journey, Johnson became the first woman to accomplish a record time for a solo flight from England to India, and then from India to Australia.
When Amy arrived in Australia she was presented with about £25 in gold which the children of Sydney had collected for her. In August 1930, at a welcome home gathering at the City Hall, Amy announced that she would use this gold, along with an additional sum, to create a perpetual challenge cup. Recognising that "children can be brave too," Amy wanted the cup to be awarded by the City of Hull annually to a child who demonstrated great bravery in the face of adversity.
Amy served with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) during the Second World War. She went missing while flying a mission over the Thames Estuary in January 1941. Her body was never recovered.
Management of the cup
On 30 August 1931 a Trust Deed, in connection with the foundation of the cup, was drawn up between the Corporation and Amy Johnson. The Lord Mayor would hold the cup for the Corporation, and it would be awarded on an annual basis by a special committee of trustees consisting of seven members; the Lord Mayor would act as Chairman and the other members would be representatives of boys' and girls' organisations with any remaining members being appointed by the Corporation.
The deed stipulates that when the cup is awarded, it is for single acts of bravery only. It can only be given to children from within the City of Hull boundaries. It cannot be won by anyone displaying stunts or reckless actions. The child who wins the honour has their photograph taken with the cup and is given a prize as well as a replica cup. Their actions are also recorded in a special book which is kept in the Guildhall by the Lord Mayor's Secretary. It can be consulted strictly by prior appointment.
The first winner of the cup
The cup was first awarded in 1936 to Leslie Grubb, aged 15. "On the 17 May 1933, Arthur Weissenborn, while stepping over the side of a tugboat into a small boat in the Old Harbour, fell overboard. He could not swim and tried to remain standing, but the tide bore him into deeper water. Leslie Grubb dived into the water fully clothed and, after swimming about 20 yards, reached Weissenborn. He was unable to free him owing to him being held fast in the mud by his thigh boots. Grubb eventually pulled him out of his boots and brought him into shallower water where a ladder was lowered and they both were able to climb to safety."
Details of the cup
Made in London in 1931 by Edward Barnard & Sons, it is inscribed "The Amy Johnson Cup for Courage". It is a 9-carat gold standing cup and cover on a round base with acanthus rim, a baluster stem supporting a campana-shaped body with a pair of handles, each formed of a winged woman or angel. The moulded lid has a pineapple finial, and the body of the cup is engraved with an inscription. The cup is mounted on a black wooden plinth.
The cup is kept in the cabinet of silver on the first floor at the east end of the Guildhall and can be viewed strictly by prior appointment.
Information about the cup, including dimensions and a photograph, can be found at Hull Museums Collections.
For more information about the books and records relating to Amy Johnson at the History Centre download our guide: Discovering Amy Johnson at the Hull History Centre (PDF, 0.9MB).