The Next Ride: Sunday 1 April 2012 – Amberley Circular

20 March 2012

Amberley – Storrington – Smock Alley – West Chiltington – Amberley

A beautiful amble down country lanes, hopefully in the sunshine, with pleasant company and no punctures! This is a very pretty and mostly very gentle ride. We will make our way through Amberley village and along the lanes to Parham Park, which is a feast for the eyes with beautiful trees and stunning views across the park. On the way we shall see some lovely churches as we pass through Storrington village and there is an option to visit the village’s small museum. Then on to Smock Alley (avoiding Dementors!*). Lunch in West Chiltington at the Queens Head; then back to Amberley via a different route involving a golf course and an inhabited windmill. Possible tea stop at the Riverside Café in Amberley before catching the train home. Jim will be offering guided tours of Amberley Signalbox (a must for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike!).

Length: About 17 miles.

Duration: About 4–5 hours.

Terrain: Mostly lanes, some bridleways, one golf course. Very short section of A road. Mainly flat with some small hills.

Getting there: Meet at Amberley Station at 11.30. Unfortunately there are no trains to Barnham so we have to travel via Three Bridges. Leave Brighton at 10:00 or 10:14, change at Three Bridges, departing there at 10:53. Londoners can get there without changing – leave Victoria at 10.05, Clapham Junction 10.11, East Croydon 10.24.

Getting Home: Trains leave Amberley for Three Bridges and London at 19 mins past the hour.

Angela and Jim

*If you do not understand the Harry Potter reference, ask me!


The Last Ride: 18 March 2012 – Aldrington to Shoreham

20 March 2012

Thirteen riders met at Aldrington on Mothers’ Day just as the sun was slipping behind a large grey cloud. They were Angela, Ann, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Leon, Mick, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue (our leader), Suzanne and Tessa. Would we be lucky with the weather?

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 001

We set off through suburban Hove passing the impressive West Blatchington Mill. Then came the first of the various choices that Sue would be offering us during the day. Should we take the off-road track with its risk of mud, or stick to the slightly longer road? Some wanted one and some the other so we split into two groups, and met up again at the footbridge over the A27.

Discussion on (en) route

From here it was (fairly gently) uphill all the way to a spectacular view of the English Channel and our next choice: coffee inside at the Devil’s Dyke, or outside at the Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe with its home-made cakes? A quick glance at the sky and the vote was unanimous – the home-made cakes had it.

Hikers' Rest

Thoroughly refreshed we resumed our journey, plunging down to Poynings, where Sue’s next question was posed: was Helen ahead of us or had we left her at the café? Blank looks all round, so Jim volunteered to ride back and look for her. Needless to say we were all soon reunited and Jim was pleased to learn that Helen had not been abducted by the hairy, vintage motorcyclists he came across during his search: she had been ahead of us all the time.

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 005

Onwards to the King’s Head at Upper Beeding for lunch. As it was Mothers’ Day all the inside seating had been reserved for those accompanied by their bona fide mothers. As a result we had to sit outside, as Sue had forewarned us. Well, there is outside and outside. We were soon seated around a magnificent table in an open-sided barn overlooking the garden and staring intently at the hi-tec gizmos we had each been given when ordering food. Whenever anyone’s meal was ready to collect, their gizmo turned into a festival of flashing LEDs. The meals were pretty good too.

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 015

The weather was still being kind as we started the final leg of the journey along the Downs Link to Shoreham and the next decision point: train or cycle back to Brighton? Four of our number peeled off to catch a train and the rest hurried on to Shoreham Lock for the final choice of the day: a cup of tea at Carats Café or straight home? Two more peeled off for tea and the rest pushed on along the coast.

Thanks for a great ride Sue – and for all those choices!

Roger

[More photos on Flickr]

Cycling the Pioneer Run

Roger’s report mentions seeing vintage motorcycles (or was it vintage motorcyclists? Probably both …) on Sunday’s ride. They were taking part in the annual Pioneer Run from Epsom Downs to Brighton – and I wasn’t on the Clarion ride because I was cycling the route in among the motorcycles with some friends. It was great fun! I had to get a very early train from Brighton to meet my friends at East Croydon, then we rode from there to Tattenham Corner, Epsom, and stopped for a while to admire the organised chaos of hundreds of very unusual motorbikes getting ready to depart.

The start at Epsom

Despite forecasts of rain at some point we had a dry ride under largely blue skies, and the atmosphere was very merry with motorcyclists and passengers (in some very uncomfortable-looking sidecars including a wicker one) waving and hallooing to us as they passed us – we were very careful to keep out of their way as their brakes are often not that brilliant, in fact we saw one guy stopping by simply putting his feet down! Several of our number abandoned their bikes at one point to help a poor chap push his stalled three-wheeled vintage number up the hill at Handcross.

Stopped for a Woodbine and a chat

No closed roads for this run, unlike the version for the vintage cars, but we had an excellent 58-mile ride with one coffee/snack stop at Pease Pottage. We were on the main roads a lot of the time, but the presence of the old motorbikes made the traffic behave very well all day and we sailed down the A23 on the cycle path. We got to Madeira Drive at about 2 pm, after most of the motorcycles had departed, so we could find some room at the Madeira Café to enjoy tea and chips – a grand day out!

Jenny


News

20 March 2012

Dear fellow members and friends 

We need a volunteer to lead a ride on 6 May. I can’t and neither can Jim. Any offers? Offers are of course always welcome for any of the remaining rides for 2012 but this is the top priority.

Here’s a recent email from our old friend (and former Brighton section member) Ken Wells:

One more bit of ancient history.
When called up for national service to the RAF in 1951, I was interviewed for Aircrew. One of the questions was “Are you a member of a political party or cycling club?” Obviously referring to the Clarion’s links to the Labour Party.

Ken Wells

I’ve heard similar tales from other sources about this.

So far in terms of Clarion rides 2012 has been very frustrating for me. For a whole series of different reasons – including aversion to very cold weather – I haven’t made a single run since New Year’s Day, when my cold was so bad that I probably wouldn’t have made it to Carats Café had Anne not taken pity on me and paced me along the final couple of miles. Before that it was my two December rides. Originally I definitely intended to come on Roger’s “Worthing Wander” but then couldn’t make the new date when it had to be postponed. I’ll be away for the next ride and I don’t think I can make 15 April. So I thought. “I know, I’ll put myself down to lead a ride on 6 May” – and then remembered I won’t be available that day.

Many of our “regulars” will be taking part in the Bath–Bristol weekend. I don’t know all those who are going, although the party must be complete by now. But there might be a few people who, like me, are not going away but would be interested in a ride on Sunday 22 April. We have offered rides for “stay-at-homes” on similar occasions in the past, so …

We haven’t done the “Dell Quay/Chichester Canal” ride since, I think, 2008 and when we did it the year before, Anne reported that the canal was …

thronged with birdlife; a swan’s nest with graceful occupant taking after-lunch nap, then dozens of baby coots and moorhens with their respective parents, with their red or white bills, and other nesting birds that could have been curlew.

And we might be lucky again. Even I, with my abysmal ignorance about flora and fauna (among many other things), can spot a coot! The ride’s quite short – only 14/15 miles – and almost entirely “flat”. It’s a nice, really varied route and one that can’t be done later in the year if we’re going to see all those little coots etc.

But I don’t want to find myself doing the ride alone – and it might be that everyone else is away on the weekend, otherwise unavailable, or doesn’t fancy the ride I’m suggesting. I shall be away from this Thursday until the day after the next ride at the beginning of April, but I’ll check my emails and if there is a handful of takers I’ll put the ride in the programme. So please let me know if you’re likely to come. If I’m going ahead with it I’d like to confirm that in the next newsletter – and then give the details in the one after that as per usual.

Ian


Future rides

20 March 2012

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

1 April (oh, dear!)* Amberley Circular (Angela & Jim)
15 April Polegate –Eridge (Jim)
20–22 April Bath–Bristol weekend (Joyce)
22 April  Possible Chichester – Dell Quay  (Ian)
6 May
20 May  Lewes – Haywards Heath (Jim)
3 June
17 June
1 July
15 July*
29 July
12 August
26 August
9 September*
21 September*
7 October
21 October
4 November
18 November
 2 December
16 December

*Ian not available as “back-stop”


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 105 Cycle Parades 2 – Manchester/Salford

20 March 2012

From “Cycling Notes” in the Clarion, 14 September 1895

I am requested to ask the members of the Manchester and District Clarion C.C. to meet tomorrow at 2pm at the Cannon Street Dining-rooms, 58, Cannon Street, City, for the purpose of joining the Cycle Parade in aid of the Day Nursery and Children’s Shelter. The parade will start from the Racecourse, Salford. It is possible that a number of fancy costumes may be provided, and I trust that every member of the club will make it his duty to be present.

I am aware that there are many who look upon these parades as frivolous, but surely there is no harm in raising a laugh or entering into the spirit of such an affair, seeing for what a worthy object these parades are organised.

We English folk make life such an earnest and terrible business nowadays that happy faces and hearty laughter are almost strangers to our nature.

Therefore, roll up, ye Clarion Wheelers if only to exhibit your numbers and give a shock to the comfortable citizens of Salford; be not behind our Birmingham comrades in at least securing a prize and mention in the press for the biggest muster.

Next time: The Log of the Undine (cycling in Normandy) Part 1


The Next Ride: Sunday 18 March 2012 – Aldrington, Devil’s Dyke, Bramber, Shoreham

7 March 2012

The ride begins at Aldrington Station at 9.54 am. If arriving there by train, catch the 9.48 from Brighton station. I will be at Brighton station for the 9.48 train myself.

We will cycle slowly uphill through residential roads in Hangleton and onto the cycle track on the dismantled railway line which joins the Devils Dyke road. Continuing towards the Dyke, we then have a long downhill run alongside the Dyke itself, past Saddlescombe, and turn left through Poynings and Fulking, a softly undulating road at the foot of the Downs, then on through Upper Beeding to Bramber for lunch at The Bridge Inn.

I suggest we stop for coffee either at the Dyke Road Inn or the delightful Hikers Rest café at Saddlescombe where they do homemade cakes with wheat-free options. This will be dependent on weather as the Hikers Rest is outdoors (within a walled courtyard with a covered area also open to the yard).

We head back along the Downs Link to Shoreham (or deserting the Link and detouring along Coombe Lane past St Botolphs if the ground is soggy). There’s the possibility of tea at the airport if desired, and the option of cycling back to Brighton or taking the train from Shoreham.

Distance: approx. 4/5 miles to coffee; 7 or 8 miles to lunch; 3 or 4 miles to tea; 2 miles to station. Total: About 18 miles. or if cycling back to Brighton 25ish.

Faster uphill option: I am expecting to take the long hill from Brighton up to the top of the Downs slowly, but if anyone wants to cycle by an alternative route, or faster, up to the Dyke, let me know. We can arrange to meet them, e.g. at the coffee stop which is most likely to be at Devil’s Dyke Inn (my phone: 07787 402 229).

Trains back from Shoreham 15.09, 16.09, 16.39, 16.52, 17.14 etc.

Hope to see you there.

Sikka (aka SueP)


The Last Ride: 4 March 2012 – A Worthing Wander

7 March 2012

Four stalwarts – Roger, Suzanne, Terry and Sikka – braved the rain to cycle from Worthing station on an architectural tour of the local suburbs. Starting from complete ignorance I now know the approximate historical sequence: Georgian 1750s to 1820s; Regency 1820 to 1830; Victorian 1830s to 1890s; Edwardian 1890s to 1910? then pre-war and post-war, taking in Art Deco in the 1930s. I hope I’ve got that right!

We were led ‘round the houses’ through a maze of pre- and post-war estates, and chose to brave a bridleway between Goring and Ferring under the gracious canopies of an avenue of old holm oaks. One more offroad track alongside the Kingston Rife (rife = river?) to arrive at the Bluebird Café on Ferring beach for a welcome coffee and drip.

Thence, after wringing out soaked gloves, a short and direct ride following the shore along National Cycle Network Route 2 to the Denton restaurant at Worthing Pier, the last section taking us along the reinstated cycle track on the promenade. As the rain had continued unabated, I was personally thankful to get inside for an early and substantial meal, sitting by the windows looking out onto a sea full of white breakers.

With the rain heavier than ever after lunch, Terry and I were happy to take the train home, leaving Roger and Suzanne braving the wet, apparently determined to continue along the coast route to … Shoreham? Hove? Brighton? … who knows??

Thank you, Roger, for making the most of a somewhat damp Sunday!

Sikka


News and some history

7 March 2012

Dear fellow members and friends

Any offers for rides from May onwards? All will be gratefully received!

Isn’t it odd how you sometimes come across things when you least expect them? I’m ploughing through the ILP weekly New Leader for 1930 as part of my research for the book I’m writing on the interwar ILP and, looking for quite different things, I came across a piece spread over two issues occasioned by the publication of Robert Blatchford’s autobiography, My Eighty Years. I haven’t looked at that since the 1970s, but my (very fallible) memory of it is that he gave surprising little space – relatively speaking – to the Clarion, the foundation and editing of which is for most of us his most significant achievement. Perhaps I’m wrong about that.

Anyway, the article was very much focused on the early days of what the writer called “the inimitable ‘Clarion’” including of course mention of The Bounder – who will be giving an account of his cycle ride from Dieppe to Le Havre in my regular Clarion extracts feature in a few weeks’ time.

The author of the article was Fred Jowett (1864–1944) a founder and lifelong member of the ILP. “Jowett of Bradford”, as he was known, was to become one of the more distinctive, and distinguished, MPs of the twentieth century. Another famous son of Bradford, J B Priestley – in the preface he contributed to Fenner Brockway’s biography of the then recently deceased Jowett – thought that, although Jowett might have been wrong sometimes, he was never “stupidly or ignobly wrong”. He was, Priestley went on, “a great man of a new kind, which the history books have not caught up with yet.” Always at odds with the Labour establishment, and the wider British one, Jowett was not a charismatic rebel but, as Priestley put it, “If he was not a ‘spectacular figure’ then so much the worse for spectacular figures and the foolish crowds who applaud their antics.” The consistent theme in Jowett’s life was his determination to make parliamentary democracy work in a way that brought the executive under the control of the elected representatives of the electorate, and the elected fully accountable to their constituents. For him this was an essential condition for socialism. His experience as a Bradford city councillor from 1892 was a key formative influence. His central idea about parliamentary reform was based on this. He advocated replacing cabinet rule by a committee system similar to what was then practised in local government.

Jowett was a regular Clarion contributor in the 1900s but parted company with Blatchford over the First World War, which he opposed. He was elected as Labour MP for Bradford West in 1906 and retained the seat in the elections of 1910 but lost it – as did other prominent members of the ILP who had opposed the war – at the “Khaki election” in December 1918. Re-elected in 1922 he served in the minority Labour government of January to November 1924 as First Commissioner of Works. In spite of his determined opposition to “cabinet government” Jowett accepted MacDonald’s invitation to join the government while apparently not expecting to be included in the cabinet. But he was. Like John Wheatley, the new Minister of Health, he refused to wear the customary morning dress and top hat to receive his seal of office at Buckingham Palace. In the same egalitarian spirit Jowett insisted on including the less-elevated members of the ministry staff in his inaugural reception.

Jowett was only in office for such a short period but he managed to leave a permanent mark of his tenure, notably in getting the words “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone” inscribed on the statue of Edith Cavell outside the National Portrait Gallery, and supporting the then controversial Epstein sculpture of Rima for the W H Hudson Memorial in Hyde Park. Defeated at the October 1924 election he was elected again for Bradford East in 1929, losing the seat again in the Labour debacle of 1931. In the meantime he had not been invited to serve in MacDonald’s second government.

I didn’t mean to go on so long – but I think, whatever our own particular views, we sometimes need to be reminded about people like Jowett – and of course of papers like the Clarion.

Ian


Future rides

7 March 2012

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

18 March Devils Dyke – Shoreham (Sue P)
1 April (oh, dear!)* tba (Angela)
15 April Polegate –Eridge (Jim)
20–22 April Bath–Bristol weekend (Joyce)
6 May
20 May
3 June
17 June
1 July
15 July*
29 July
12 August
26 August
9 September*
21 September*
7 October
21 October
4 November
18 November
 2 December
16 December

*Ian not available as “back-stop”


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 104: Cycle Parades 1 – Birmingham

7 March 2012

From “Cycling Notes” in the Clarion, 14 September 1895

Birmingham Clarion C.C.

The Birmingham Cycle Parade! Huge crowds of thronging thousands! Thundering peals of deafening applause! Thrilling shrieks of frantic joy:

As with
Measured swing and stately tread,
“Robed revolutionary red,”
With clear bright eye
And proud held head
A host which the noble
McAtkinson led,
Came marching on, The Clarions,

Which I reckon is very good for an amateur, and shows what deep wells of poetry may be tapped when occasion calls.

The parade was a great success, the costumes being on the whole very good, many of them very funny, others merely vulgar. The clubs in uniform costume were few, among them being “The Arabs,” attired as such, who looked well, whilst no one could object to the neat and effective perriot costume of our club, It was really very pretty, for although the costume was of brilliant red, it was by no means displeasing to the eye. It was, in fact, most artistic in conception and design.

Of course after that we took a prize, walked on our heels, and spread ourselves all over the route. At every few yards we were greeted with the warcry “Boots!” whilst the prize distributor introduced our prizetaker as the representative of Socialism.

We are going to give Walsall a turn next Saturday (21st) and Coventry will be troubled later on.

Cycle parades are a great institution.

The O’Groomie O

Next time: Cycle Parades 2 – Manchester