Who would have thought that the exciting, colourful and internationally renowned Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay started its life in Wales? Signifying a visual celebration of the unity and diversity of all the Commonwealth nations, and highlighting sport's ability to join people of all races, this much anticipated event has now become a familiar and popular prelude to the Games' grand opening.
Having begun as the Empire Games in 1930, the Commonwealth Games has always been proud to follow the Olympic idea of friendship, solidarity and fair play, and endeavours to promote good relations between the Commonwealth countries. The British Empire and Commonwealth Games, as they were known in 1958 when held in Cardiff between 18 and 26 July, were the first to stage the Queen's Baton Relay, intended to symbolise peace and harmony through sports participation.
Although its origins remain unclear, it is believed that the idea for a Commonwealth baton relay was conceived during the late 1950s by the Games Organising Committee. Appointed as the event's Honorary Organiser was retired Royal Navy Officer, Commander Bill Collins, who had previously coordinated the London Olympic Torch Relay in 1948. For the Cardiff relay, Collins was ably assisted by a team of local organisers, selected by athletic associations from all countries through the running route passed.
The 1958 silver-gilt and enamel baton was designed by Cardiff Jeweller and former solider, Colonel Roy Crouch, Chairman of the Games' Medals Committee. Measuring 40cm in length and 4cm in diameter, it was decorated with Welsh national symbols, namely a red dragon, daffodils and leeks, along with crowns representing the royal connection. 'Vl British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Wales 1958' was inscribed on the hollow tubular baton, which was manufactured by Turner and Simpson, silversmiths, of Birmingham.