The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 83. The 1895 General Election approaches

Still with “Swiftsure’s” regular “Cycling Notes” Clarion, 6 July 1895

With the General Election there is bound to be plenty of work suitable to Clarion cyclists and I trust they will immediately organise themselves for that purpose.

In Manchester the Clarion Cycling Club are frequently reproached with being luke-warm Socialists, who think more of their own pleasure than they ought to do.

Such a reproach is certainly not merited, and as evidence of their desire to assist in the good work, I may say that the club races for this month are abandoned, and the money which would have been spent is being subscribed towards funding our cause in the coming elections.

The sum of £2.2s has been sent to the Clarion election fund, and a further one guinea towards the election expenses in the Gorton division where Dr Pankhurst* is the Socialist candidate.

I feel sure that every member of the club will gladly forgo the possible honour of winning the club race, when he learns with what effect the money is being spent.

*Richard Pankhurst was a radical lawyer, born in 1834; Dr because of his LLD. He was active from the late 1860s in a range of progressive causes, especially as an advocate and legal advisor for the (pre-Suffragette) campaign for the enfranchisement of women and women’s rights in general. [He drafted a version of the 1870 Married Women’s Property Act.] A member of the Liberal party until 1883 he joined the ILP and – as reported above by Swiftsure – stood in the industrial area of Manchester, Gorton, as its candidate. Like all the other ILP candidates in that election – including Keir Hardie – he was defeated.

He died of gastric ulcers in 1898. In 1903 his widow, Emmeline, who was much younger, took a lead in forming the Women’s Social and Political Union as a “militant” alternative to the “constitutional” women’s suffrage movement. Members of the WSPU were soon christened “suffragettes” which was originally intended as a put-down – but backfired and was adopted by those it was meant to disparage as “junior” suffragists.

Richard Pankhurst was the key inspiration for his most radical daughter, Sylvia, who was 16 when he died in 1898. She named her son, born 1927, after him. As Les Garner has put it, “In family terms Sylvia faced a choice between the calls of Christabel and their mother Emmeline, and the radical legacy of her father, Richard. Ultimately it was the latter … that won through.”

Les Garner “Suffragism and Socialism: Sylvia Pankhurst 1903-1914” in Ian Bullock and Richard Pankhurst (eds) Sylvia Pankhurst. From Artist to Anti-fascist [Macmillan, 1992] 68.

Next time – More on the 1895 General Election

One Response to The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 83. The 1895 General Election approaches

  1. […] the Not-being-able-to-read-my-own-handwriting Department. In the last issue (83), “is being submitted towards funding our cause in the coming elections” should have read […]

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