The 119th Clarion Cycling Club Easter Meet took place this year at Beverley. It is a town with many claims to fame apart from being the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Among the horse racing fraternity it is well-known for its race course. Those interested in British nineteenth century history recall that criminal malpractice during parliamentary elections there reached such heights that even parliamentarians, most of whom had at least dabbled a bit in bribery and corruption, were shocked into taking action. Shoreham in our own area was probably the other most notorious example (see below).
Devotees of gothic architecture go there for the magnificent Beverley Minster and, at the other end of the town, opposite the Beverley Arms hotel which served as this year’s HQ for the Clarion, the almost equally magnificent St Mary’s. The hotel itself is known among the literati for its appearance, thinly disguised as the Percy Standard, in Trollope’s “political” novel of 1871, Ralph the Heir which among other things dealt with election corruption based on Trollope’s experience as a Liberal condidate in Beverley – which appears as Percycross in the novel. The Beverley Arms was also the goal of many of Philip Larkin’s cycle trips from Hull. He always treated himself to a cream tea there. Opposite, in St Mary’s its white rabbit is, allegedly, the inspiration of the Lewis Carroll character. Much remains of the Georgian elegance of its fashionable 18th century past and the medieval gateway at the North Bar still survives.
The Brighton and Hove delegation – Bob, Fred, Sue and myself – were also delighted with a unique pub, conveniently near the hotel. Fred, who had done his research on such essential matters before leaving Brighton, had already flagged it up as well worth a visit – or two. Officially the White Horse, it is universally known – even in the local tourist information office – as “Nelly’s” (sometimes spelled “Nellies”) after a notable landlady of the past. The Samuel Smith beer at £1.80 a pint is certainly one of its attractions, but its singularity lies in the fact that it resisted – and long will continue to resist, one hopes – the trend of knocking everything into one open-plan bar and retains a labyrinth of comfortably sized small rooms all lit – and this is the most amazing bit – by gaslight.
So, a good time was had by all. Only Bob, among the four of us, had remembered to take a bike and he did make an error, rather reminiscent of some of my own “exploits” by setting off a little late to catch up the other riders – but in the wrong direction. But all came out right in the end. The rest of your delegation confined themselves to more sedate activities such as the local history tour of the town.
But serious business was not entirely neglected. At the AGM/conference one mystery was solved. Julian and others have asked me about the non-appearance of 2014 membership cards. It seems that the increase in national membership has made the membership secretary’s job – at least in the form it has been carried out – so onerous as to be almost impossible, and Donald Lever is stepping down in a few months time. It’s hoped that a solution will be found before then. This problem which may need paying for professional assistance if it is to be resolved, together with the costs of producing and sending out Boots and Spurs are the main reasons for the move to increase the membership fee by £2 p a. Our own AGM had instructed us to listen carefully to the arguments for the motion that proposed this with the expectation that the increase would probably need to be supported. At the conference the only opposition to the increase came from a minority that argued that a larger increase would be necessary to solve the outstanding issues and that the decision should be deferred until the costs were more precisely known. We listened, conferred, and cast our 28 votes – reflecting our membership as of the “cut-off point” of 5 April in favour of the motion.
In the words of our AGM minutes “It was agreed to ask the National Committee to consider extending the date for section AGMs by a month to 13 March” I had managed to sort this out before the Meet so there was no need to raise it formally at the conference. The next AGM is not till next year and this report is getting rather long so I’ll save further explanation till another time.
Bob was re-elected as Standing Order Secretary but there were many positions for which there were no volunteers. One can’t complain when one isn’t prepared to take something on oneself. But North Cheshire did say they would sort out the national website (for free) and our friends from the London section volunteered to have a serious look at the membership problem.
It was nice to see old friends from other Clarion sections, not least our friend – and fan of this newsletter – Peter Roscoe. We learnt – from others rather than Peter – of his exploit a few weeks ago on 30 March which took the form of abseiling down the Peel tower to raise money for charity. Peter said it was easy – he’d done it before. But that turned out to have been in the 1960s – not at the age of 79! Don’t miss this on YouTube.
Moves are now afoot to persuade him not to take up sky-diving.
One thing that was very noticeable was the preparations for and promotion of the first two stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire – even in parts of the county well away from the race route. Sue and I visited Wensleydale after the end of the Meet. The peleton will flash through Hawes in about 30 seconds on the 5 July and may miss the large banner welcoming them to the Wensleydale Creamery – which raises visions of Gromit contesting the sprint with Mark Cavendish et al at the end of the stage in Harrogate!