Oldham Clarion 1897

29 October 2012

A contribution from Michael Walker:

This is a remarkable piece of cycling memorabilia and probably unique in the true sense of the word. The Rules and Fixture Card is dated 1897 and, although there is some wear, it is all perfectly legible. The two white marks are where the paper has worn through to the linen but are not torn.

All the officers of the club are listed from the Captain down to the 2 Auditors. The Saturday Runs are listed along with the Sunday Runs with a space in the middle for Memoranda. There are some pen marks by some dates and a certain amount of foxing. However this is an amazing item of great age and great interest. The Club Headquarters were at the Roebuck Hotel, Kings Street.

The Next Ride: 4 November 2012: Barnham Circular

28 October 2012

Eastergate – Westergate – Oving – Shopwyke – Westhampnett – Westerton – Waterbeach – Halnaker – Boxgrove – Fontwell – Walberton

This is a hastily-put-together ride to replace the planned  Haywards Heath circular, which has had to be postponed due to non-availability of the lunch venue. Some of the territory may be familiar from previous rides, but I think some of it is new.

The route takes us westwards from Barnham towards the outskirts of Chichester, then back by a different route. We’ll have lunch early in the ride at the Gribble Inn at Oving. The main meals are a bit pricier than I’d have liked, but there are cheaper “light bite” options. After lunch we will have a chance to see the ruins of Boxgrove Priory, and there is a (mandatory) tea stop at the wonderful, cycle-friendly Aldingbourne Country Centre (which also does furniture restoration, although it may be a bit tricky to get a 3-piece suite on your bike!)

Length: 18 miles

Duration: about 5 hours with lunch and tea stops and a short stop at Boxgrove Priory

Terrain: About a mile of Tinwood Lane (classed by OS as “other routes with public access” – green dots – and may be a bit muddy). Otherwise tarmac roads, mostly quiet ones. Short section of A29, on pavement if preferred. NO HILLS.

Start: Barnham Station at 11:50.

Getting there: 10:50 train from Brighton (Chichester train); 10:04 from London Victoria (Bognor train)

Getting home: Trains to Brighton at 16:44 and 17:08 (journey time about 1 hour); to London at 17:05 (about 2 hours)



24 October 2012

Dear fellow members and friends

We’ve almost got all this year’s slots filled.  Just need a volunteer to lead a ride on 2 December.   And it’s not too early to start thinking about the January rides.

On Saturday Brighton trades council chartered a train to take union members and their friends up to London for the TUC ‘A future that works’ anti-austerity march. Fred and Nick travelled up with the NUJ contingent and Fred was one of only four people on the march to take his bike!

Clarionettes at tea

For more photos of the march go to http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=78834062@N00&q=oct20.

Perhaps it’s my advanced age, but I do find the tendency of recent large demos to be accompanied by loud, strident, and continuous tuneless blowing by massed vuvuzelas, and whistles extremely irritating. Fortunately, for Sue, Jenny and me, plus our friend “non-Clarion Fred” (his excuse is he lives in Rousillon), who’d gone on an ordinary train, it wasn’t so bad as for most of the time since we managed to stay close to an excellent brass band from  Leyburn which definitely added to the joy of the occasion.  Numbers are always a matter of dispute, but the turnout was certainly huge; we got a text from Fred saying that he and Nick were still waiting to start on the Embankment with the NUJ contingent while we were having tea in Piccadilly!  They caught up with us later at the Serpentine café. You do sometimes wonder how effective such events are – but as Jenny said “The one thing you can be sure of is that staying at home won’t help to change anything..”

[Jim adds: Brighton and Hove Clarion was better represented on the march than Ian may have realised. Angela and I were at the back, having got a later train; Colin was on the TUC train, so nearer the front. No doubt there were a few others scattered around too. I concur with Ian’s sentiments about the noise, and Jenny’s about taking part.]


I know not everyone reads Cycling Weekly  (aka. since “time immoral”,  The Comic) but if you do you could skip the next bit.

Back on 4 October it ran a feature on  “26 things to do on two wheels before you die”  The top one was to ride up Mont Ventoux .  I decided to postpone  that one  sine die , so I may be on track for  breaking records for longevity .  One of the others (no 8 in fact) was “Get 50 people into cycling”  This including the following – which I confess I didn’t spot at the time:

“there’s a national body called the National Clarion www.clarion.org that will help you start with just three members and a six pound fee. The Clarion comes from way back when cycling started as a pastime, but their motto today is “on-bike social networking.”

Fast-forward to last week and there’s a letter from our national secretary Ian Clarke.  He starts by explaining that the club began in 1894 and then added:

Some three years ago, I set a challenge at our annual conference t grow the club from 550 members to 1,000 members by 2020. I was way off the pace and we got there this year! We now stand at 1,100 members spread around the country. We have 30 regional sections from Brighton and Hove to West Lothian, and also one small section in Italy

Later he points out that – actually – our slogan is “fellowship is life”  – our Jim (and William Morris) will be pleased about that!

If you’re in the google group you will have seen the flyer (bit small) for the Martlets charity event, Pedal Preston Park on 27 October” For more details see http://www.pedalinprestonpark.co.uk



The Last Ride: Guildford to Horsham, 21 October 2012

24 October 2012

October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

Sunday’s 23-mile cycle route from Guildford to Horsham included a river, a canal, a disused railway line, a couple of intriguing literary landmarks and some of the muddiest cycling conditions ever seen on a Clarion ride.  A smaller group than usual  took part (Jim, Joan, TJ and Nick). We made good progress on most of the off-road cycle paths.  However, the recent heavy rain did mean that it was occasionally hard work over the flooded and muddy sections of the route.


October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

I hadn’t been cycling for a couple of months and couldn’t find my cycle pump before setting out. I arrived at Guildford station with tyres which were nearly flat, so was extremely grateful to TJ for the use of the cycle pump which made my bike roadworthy again. Guildford station’s Costa staff seemed to understand that coffee and cycle maintenance were important Sunday morning concerns, as I pumped up the tyres in their coffee shop.

As we started the ride and headed towards the River Wey, we came across our first literary reference. Lewis Carroll spent much of his adult life in Guildford. The bronze sculpture of Alice and white rabbit was our first photo opportunity of the day.

October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

We soon reached the River Wey, where the riverside path became particularly muddy. We did wonder how a larger Clarion group would have coped with the narrow muddy path without potential collisions, so perhaps it was just as well that there were only four of us on this particular ride.


October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

By the time we had reached the former train station of Bramley & Wonersh, we had made good progress along a disused, mud-free rail track for several miles (cycle route 22). The cracking pace continued until we reached the Cranley Hotel lunch stop . The other three opted for a pudding as well as a savoury course. Although the rhubarb crumble looked great, I stuck with the traditional panini/chips/lime & soda diet favoured by many serious cyclists.

October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

Joan and TJ made alternative arrangements for their journey back to south London and didn’t cycle back with Jim and myself to Horsham. Shortly after posing for a group photograph, the group split in two as we went our separate ways. It was just Jim and myself who stopped to have a look at the Double Bridge on the Downs Link, which used to carry the Horsham to Guildford railway line before the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

TJ and Joan also missed the grand Horsham finish, which included the second literary reference of the day. Horsham town centre’s tribute to the poet Shelley, who was born near to Horsham, was rather impressive. The Rising Universe (aka The Shelley Fountain by Horsham residents) is a large moving planetary water sculpture, which is certainly more imaginative and fun than most of the shopping outlets which surround it.


October 21, 2012: Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

Thanks to Jim for devising such an enjoyable day. Although we shared the route with several horses and three red setter dogs, we didn’t meet many other cyclists. Perhaps other cyclists were put off by the potentially muddy conditions? If we do go cycling through muddy terrain again, though, I really must remember to invest in some mud guards.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

24 October 2012

121   Manchester Clarion C.C ’s 100 mile run in ten hours (makes your legs ache just thinking about it!)

The end of 1895 is in sight at last!  This comes from Swiftsure’s Cycling Notes of 2 November:

It may be of interest if I give a few particulars of the 100 miles run in ten hours by the Manchester Clarion CC on Sunday week.

The ride was not promoted with the least idea of racing, but merely to give members the opportunity of trying what they could do, and to promote in them an ability to stay a distance whenever they desire.

Starting from Sale – five miles from Manchester- a course was mapped out through Holmes Chapel, Congleton, Crewe, and Nantwich, with several stopping places for rest and food; and the time was fixed so that the pace need seldom exceed 12 miles per hour.

There were 12 starters, one of which was Mrs Bennett, the wife of our sub-captain, riding her husband’s machine – in rationals of course.

The roads were in good condition, and only a slight breeze was perceptible at any ;part of the day. The pace was steady so none should lag; the main credit of the ride, in my opinion being, that all, or nearly all, should finish who started. However, that desire was not fulfilled., since only four finished; but for all that, only two were dropped owing to the pace, the remaining six being left behind from various causes, The four who finished took 9 ½ hours to complete the distance, but deducting stoppages, the net time was 7 ¾ hours, giving an average of 13 miles per hour. To show that this pace must have been kept almost the whole time , I may say that the last 21 miles was done in 1 hr 35 min.

Of the four who finished, one was a youth named Wadsworth, 16 years of age, and another was Mrs Bennett, who rode with a determination and grit which stamps her as one of the best lady cyclists in the district.

Next time:  Seasonal tip on riding in mud (which might have been useful on 20 October) and more support for “Rationals”



The Next Ride: Sunday 21 October – Guildford to Horsham (Downs Link North)

8 October 2012

Bramley – Cranleigh – Rudgwick – Christ’s Hospital

This is a ride that I’ve been touting for some time and have finally managed to slot in. The Shoreham end of the Downs Link has of course featured in many rides, and in July 2007 we did the whole southern section from Christ’s Hospital to Shoreham; but we have never done the northern half to my knowledge. I recall Sikka telling me about a sponsored ride she did on the route, which entailed not only cycling the whole 36-mile length of it, but actually going up onto the North Downs; this reminds one that, presumably in order to justify the name, the architect of the route felt obliged to link it up with the North Downs Way. I hasten to add that we won’t be going up there! In fact the first 2 miles will be along the river Wey (so, pretty flat) from Guildford to Peasmarsh, where we join the old railway line that eventually adopts the official Downs Link moniker a mile further on.

River Wey

We travel alongside the Wey and Arun Canal for a while before it goes off to do its own thing (well, to Loxwood in fact, to meet the Arun). We do cross the Arun, but much further upstream, at the famous Double Bridge that has given the Downs Link its logo. (There is a railway story lurking there but I will only tell it on demand, and only then if you buy me a pint.) We’ll try and get a peep at the perfectly preserved, but privately owned and inhabited, Baynards station (another railway story, another pint). South of Baynards is the only slight hill, where we have to climb over the top of a short tunnel that is now inhabited by bats (and therefore out of bounds to us) but the climb is worth it, because it leads to a lovely quiet wood.

Baynards Station

The ride should, logically, end at Christ’s Hospital, where the Downs Link meets the Mid-Sussex line; however, on this particular day there are no trains from Christ’s Hospital so the ride has been extended to Horsham. And this too turns out to be serendipitous – before doing the practice ride I might have voted Horsham The Most Boring Place in the Universe, but now I know that it actually has a literary connection, and with no less a person than Percy Bysshe Shelley! He was born at Broadbridge Heath (whose main claim to fame nowadays is as a service station on the A24) and there is a piece of modern sculpture in the town centre that was apparently inspired by his poetry.

Cosmic Cycle 1

And for another interesting local story – if you travel to the ride on the Gatwick–Guildford train, look out for “Jesse’s Seat” on the south side of the line between Gomshall and Chilworth – it’s a yew tree cut in the shape of a pheasant perched on the back of a seat, and is a memorial to a railwayman killed here in 1892 – full story at www.sheredelight.com/train.html  But don’t blink or you’ll miss it!


Length: 23 miles.

Duration: about 6 hours (or longer with a tea stop).

Terrain: Almost completely flat. Mostly off-road cycle paths, stony in places.

Start: Guildford Station at 11.00.

Transport: Brightonians will have to travel via Gatwick or Clapham Junction – the Havant route is not available. Possible trains are the 9:34 from Brighton, changing at Gatwick (dep. 10:08) or the 10:00 from London Waterloo. The Gatwick–Guildford trains are quite short and have limited bike-carrying capacity, so try to travel by an earlier train if you can; I will be doing that, and having a coffee in Guildford. Return trains from Horsham at 04, 42 mins past each hour; journey times to London and Brighton are about an hour (Brightonians should change at Three Bridges).

Lunch: at the Cranley Hotel, Cranleigh (we may have to order in advance).

Tea stop: in Horsham if wanted.

The Last Ride: Sunday 7 October 2012 – Hove to Shoreham

8 October 2012

Tessa kindly welcomed us all to morning coffee at her studio, so by the time we got to the photoshoot in Lorna Road we had all had time to begin to get to know our welcome newcomers Chris, Suki, Pauline and Nina and Carole. Sue/Sikka, Joyce, Jim, Angela, Marylyn, Roger, Sean and Suzanne were out in force, and it was good to see Elaine with the group for a second outing with Clarion.

Start - 15 Clarionettes blocking Lorna Road

Tessa, still suffering from laryngitis, led us on the first part of the ride to bowl along the new cycle lane on the Old Shoreham Road. She then sensibly left us to nurse her poorly throat. Sue/Sikka then took over the task of (quote Jim) “herding cats” (unquote Jim) to wend our way around Hove Recreation Ground. Yes, it’s quite a hill up past the Engineerium, along Nevill Road, up Downland Drive (no pun intended) and then that annoying “down” towards the bridge over the bypass before “up” (Regional Cycle Route 82)

On the Downs

to join the old Aldrington-to-Devil’s Dyke railway track (line closed 1938). Once on our way the fatigue of the climb was far outweighed by the spectacular views across toward the sea … and even more so by the long sweep down towards Saddlescombe Farm and coffee, cakes and glorious sunshine. Nice to see the café so busy with at least two cycling groups and many weary walkers.

The Hikers' Rest

We then continued down to the “under down” villages, Poynings, Fulking, Edburton – a halt being called when some horses were spotted in a field – not just any old horses but a magnificent Shire horse who must have stood 18 hands and several smaller versions of the species. Suki sacrificed half of her lunch in the form of an apple (by the way, Angela, I have never seen anyone split an apple in two with her – or even his – bare hands). The two halves of the apple were promptly snaffled by said 18-hander who then proceeded to investigate Suki’s pannier in the hopes of more goodies.


It was decided it was time to move on – our own lunch was calling – although Jim could not resist a little caméra vérité on the way.

Arty shot - Angela and my right elbow

A nice little side road brought us safely to Upper Beeding, over the bridge and to an excellent lunch at the Castle Hotel at Bramber. Despite aching legs and full stomachs we wended our way along the Downslink Cycle Route (rail line closed 1966), with Jim doing some bird-spotting as we rode.

Downs Link

Crossing the river Adur we continued on our way to Shoreham where the party went its separate ways: Suki to pick hedge berries, Chris to the comfort of home in Shoreham itself, Sean, Angela, Nina, Pauline, Jim and Carole to en-train for Hove and points east, whilst Sue, Joyce, Roger and Suzanne pedalled off Brightonwards, Joyce and Sue being detained by a cup of tea at Carats’ Café.

A beautifully crafted ride of all the 7s – no, not 777 miles, but 7 miles to refreshment, 7 miles to refreshment and 7 miles to possible refreshment. Three refreshment stops in one ride – this is a record that we must certainly attempt to equal on a regular basis.

Many thanks to both Tessa and Sue for planning such a good ride (and good weather, of course) and to Sue to her skill in making it all happen so enjoyably.

PS: The Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe Farm is offering music, food (carnivores and veggievores catered for), and soft or hot drinks (take your own glass and wine if you want something stronger) 6pm until 10pm Thursday 11 October – in the pergola if wet. Tickets on the night £12.00.


More photos on Flickr.


8 October 2012

Dear fellow members and friends

I get a little irritated sometimes when reading in the press about “motorists”, “cyclists” and “pedestrians” in reports and articles, which makes it sound as though these are exclusive categories of human being. Do you feel the same way?

Back in May I picked up a copy of Metro during my weekly Tube journey. The most interesting part of its contents was an article “Rage against the road machines” by Ross McGuinness in which he talked to both “sides” in what he saw as “a battle raging across Britain”. “In the red lane next to the kerb, an unruly gang straddle their two-wheeled devils, ready to spring into attack mode. In the middle of the road, meanwhile, a cocooned rabble prepare to give their bidding to evil, four-wheeled monsters.”

A “load of nonsense” he goes on – but you might well come to this conclusion if you relied on letters pages, phone-ins and blogs. Among the statistics McGuinness dug up were that 83% of cyclists in Britain own a car or van, and 52% of AA members own a bike. And he quotes what I think are some wise – if unexceptional – words:

There is no doubt people change their attitudes depending on what mode of transport they’re using. A driver in a car might get annoyed with a cyclist not stopping at red light but, when the same driver is on a bike they might be annoyed with a car driving too close to them.

We’re all humans. We should share the road space. Quite often we’re not just one group – either cyclists or motorheads – we’re the same people.

Mr King described calls from some figures in the motoring industry for a tax on cyclists as “nonsense” adding, “Cyclists don’t cause damage to the road network and most have a car anyway so they pay vehicle excise duty.”

And who, you might ask is this “Mr King”? He’s Edmund King, President of the AA.

If you’re in the Google group you will have seen the flyer (a bit small) for the Martlets charity event, Pedal in Preston Park on 27 October. For more details see www.pedalinprestonpark.co.uk

This is turning into a longer than usual intro to the newsletter. So I don’t feel so bad about reducing my 1895 Clarion extracts from one small piece followed by a longer one to just the first of these. The truth is that I need to copy out more material before I run out and at the moment I’m too busy to nip up to Sussex University library to gather some more. So cutting down on what I promised last time will give me another couple of weeks to get gather some more gems from Swiftsure and Co.

You’ll see that we have now ride slots for dates in the New Year; Jim has done some work on possible dates. As usual, whichever sequence of fortnightly rides we go for has some cons as well as pros. Among the advantages is that this schedule accommodates the Easter weekend /Easter Meet/ beginning of British Summer Time. The disadvantages of Jim’s suggested calendar are that I already know that I can’t be available as “back stop” for any of the first three dates after the New Year’s Day ride nor for one in March, and more important perhaps that the sequence would take us on to a clash with the London-to-Brighton Bike Ride on 16th June. Jim’s solution – with which I agree – is to leave a 3-week gap after 21 April (till 12 May) which will give a bit of extra “recovery time” to those who take part in the Norfolk weekend. So far I’m just listing dates up until 21 April.

If you can see any problems that Jim and I have missed please let me know as soon as possible; there’s plenty of time to make changes without confusing ourselves. Hope that’s OK with everyone.

Next month Anne and Mick are going to lead the ride that had to be cancelled because of the appalling weather (see list). Please note that we still have one (2 Dec) going begging this year.



The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 120: A (final?) – and brief – word on cycling parades

8 October 2012

What! Parades again? Yes, just once more, I have the honour to record that the Manchester Clarion C.C. won a silver cup for muster at Sale lifeboat parade on Saturday week. I know not the size of the cup, or its value, but I am given to understand that the Bounder would probably prefer a ‘jug’ to the said ‘cup’ when he was a trifle thirsty!

Next time: Manchester Clarion C.C’s 100-mile run in 10 hours