The Next Ride: Sunday 1 June 2014: Hassocks – Wivelsfield – Plumpton  c 22 miles

21 May 2014

Meet at Hassocks station on on the west side, in the car park for a photo shoot before 10.30 departure. Lunch at Cock Inn. Afternoon tea at Oldland Mill which will be open. Also if time allows visit Ditchling Museum which is a finalist in Britain’s Best Attractions Awards

Cycle via Underhill Lane, Westmeston, Streat, Plumpton Green, Wivelsfield Green (lunch stop). Hundred Acre Lane, Spatham Lane, East end, Ditchling, Oldlands mill (tea stop), Hassocks.

Catch the  09.45 from Hove or  09, 10.04 or 10.14 from Brighton or meet at Hassocks station at 10.25.

Return trains to Bighton  16.05 arr 16.15; 16.32 arr 16.43; 16.37 arr 16.47; 17.05 arr 17.15

22 miles approx. –  fairly easy ride on pretty and quiet country lanes. Pub lunch booked in at Cock Inn  Wivelsfield Green, 1pm…    Menu can be viewed on line

The Last Ride: Sunday 18 May – 1st Summer Ride of the year

21 May 2014

When David & Linda did their recce for this ride they got soaked & so cold that Linda commented that a farmer who’d sheltered them had given her a hot water bottle to warm her up but yesterday was one of those “hottest day of the year so far” with pub gardens packed out & almost an hour’s wait for your food. Meadows were full of millions of summer blooms, verges blossomed & the trees & bushes filled with birdsong. David led us along, -well- up & down, some delightful tracks & everyone seemed to discover something new.

Although we all set out  from differing starting points, some at Shoreham station, some at Brighton station, some by all on the bike & some by train, nine of us gathered at Portslade Station by the allotted time & had the obligatory photo taken by a passing mother & baby.  Unfortunately we very soon lost John, but, even he was reunited with us at the pub in time for lunch photos & was able to continue with Joyce & Leon on their return.  Many of us were not on top form & there was a debate on the efficacy of statins at Portslade station before we set off.


We soon left the busy traffic behind & set off through Benfield Valley Nature Reserve Bike Track to reach the Dyke Road Railway Track. Uphill sections were already testing my [lack of] fitness among others, but at the start of the track Sue & I were delighted to meet 2 ladies in wheelchairs descending with their clever dogs; one, though only a 2-year old pup, was trained to help disabled people & the other – a staffie/bulldog cross was a proud hospital visitor dog. All 4[6] shared how beautiful the day was & how lovely the path.

Top of Dyke Rail Trail

Mick & Rob admired the thousands, if not millions of white campions filling the fields & verges of the track.

White Campion

We enjoyed the views from the top of the track, noting a haze over the west.


though gave up waiting for Joyce & Leon, who later told us they had found an even better track down to Saddlescombe.


At the very top of the hill by the Dyke Golf Course David suggested we stop halfway down at Summer Down for a group photo…

Devil's Dyke Viewpoint

…then soared down to charming “Hikers Rest at Saddlescombe for tea, coffee, apple & ginger drink, grand cakes & for Sue & I – super carrot, parsnip & coriander soups.

A few undulations brought us to The Royal Oak where David had planned & booked our lunch for 2pm. The garden was absolutely packed & we were told the wait for food was 45mins to an hour. However, the food looked very good & David had prepared a quiz for us. It was finding the odd man out a la “Have I got News For You” based on our observations on the ride. The answer turned out to be “Spring” & Sue turned out to be the winner, which was very fortunate as it was her special birthday. The prize was a book of Bike Rides in Sussex & Sue was delighted.

We finally made phone contact with John, who had darted off from Portslade station & arrived at Henfield. He returned to the fold of our table in the garden of the The Royal Oak & we were all delighted to see him & hear all his news.


Other pub guests were eating the hedge!


John decided to return with Joyce & Leon & Leon wrote a report of their trip to read at the end. The remaining 6 of us set off around 3pm for the 10 mile trip back to Shoreham Station, finishing on the Downslink Trail. Here again there was a division, when Jenny & Mick opted for the more road-bike friendly Coombes Road & David, Rob, Sue & I opted for the flatter riverside route, admiring the swans, flowers, sculptures, water, traffic-free peace of the track. All met up at the Tollbridge & shared the satsumas Rob had brought & the chocolate Sue had brought,


then parted again, Sue & Anne for the train, Rob to his car at the station, Mick to cycle home against the strong headwind & David to his home on Shoreham Beach. We’d all had a grand day. Thanks to David & commiserations to Linda who hadn’t been able to join us as her bike chain had suffered an injury. Loads more photos on flickr as it was such a beautiful day.


Leon’s Report from The Royal Oak Onwards & Homewards.

Three of us broke away from the main group after our lunch stop and headed in the opposite direction, toward the A23.

We rode together until we reached Church Lane Newtimber where John rode off to Brighton via Pyecombe and A23.  Joyce and Leon rode slowly down Church Lane that was normally car free but today there were many and the reason soon became apparent, Newtimber Place was a part of the Brighton Fringe and the grounds were open to the public.

We rode in and over the normally gated bridge over the moat and right up to the big house where we could investigate all the flowering plants, shrubs and trees in bloom, it was really wonderful.

Heading out again now towards Albourne on a very quiet section of the ‘Old A23’ and turning right onto the Hurspierpoint road into the village to take a quiet track around to College Lane and Belmont Lane and finally through the outskirts of Hassocks to the railway station in time to see the Brighton train pull out. The new station is now complete and the new lifts are a welcome addition that can accommodate two bikes and riders.

Thanks to David for arranging this rather pleasant ride that introduced me to another safe shortcut in Hangleton to avoid main road traffic.




21 May 2014

Dear All

We’re still open for offers to lead rides from 29 June onwards.  Anyone interested?

Boots and Spurs – message from Matthew and Kirsty

There’s been rather a lot (too much?) of stuff by me in Boots and Spurs of late – partly because last time I forgot to alert you to the deadline for contributions until it was too late.  Anyone like to volunteer to do a section report?   I was hoping to use the report of the Kent weekend – but that’s past the deadline.  But I will ask Matthew if a late entry might be possible.

We are gearing up for the next edition of Boots and Spurs, and need to find out what your section has been up to. Please can you let us know your latest news (no more than 250 words), detailing what events your club has had, any race winners you’ve got, new developments (such as social nights, websites, media coverage etc), participation in yours and other clubs’ events, memorable trips and so on.

Section News is not somewhere that we can include detailed write-ups of one specific event or ride. But this doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear about it. If you have a first person account of something special, please do submit this for inclusion (space admitting) in Boots and Spurs, and include photos wherever possible.

The easter meet will play a central role in the next issue so any snippets and photos you have form the excellent Beverley Meet would be greatly received, especially photos.

How to write Section News:

  • Third person only. No first person accounts.
  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Assume that the readers do not know you – include full names of anyone being written about.
  • Write in prose, rather than bullet points or sections with headlines.

If in doubt, please look at recent past issues of Boots and Spurs to get an idea of what needs to go into Section News.

Other items

  • Have any of your members been abroad? – Are there any photos of them in club kit in a foreign land?
  • Letters – We’ll accept letters from members commenting on content from the past issues but also any opinion you might have on the Clarion as a whole.

Deadline for submission 31st May

Please, please, please endeavour to be on time. The magazine is produced to a very high standard, which takes a lot of time. It really helps if you can submit your news by the deadline, as we are designing and editing this in our spare time, too.

Many thanks for your help.

Best wishes Matthew and Kirsty


Message from Jim  (you may have seen it via the google group)

Those of you who were on my recent Pevensey Levels ride may be interested to know that I did get a response from Herstmonceux eventually, though too late to help us. More to the point, anyone planning a ride in the vicinity of Herstmonceux in the future might like to take note.


After a follow-up email and an initial reply from the Operations Manager, Caroline Harber (no relation?) to the effect that “all I can imagine is that it  [my message] went into my junk box and was deleted” (which makes me wonder which e-mail client she is using…) I got this in reply to my request for our group to be allowed to ride through the castle grounds on the road:

“In principle I don’t see a problem with this at all but it would very much depend on when it was, how many cyclists and if we had any other events going on at the time.   Please feel free to contact me in the future.”

So it is worth contacting her if you’re planning anything – check the website at for contact details.


“Dieppe Raid”

You may remember that at the beginning of the year John asked whether anyone was interested in this.  It’s from 28th to 30th June and offers a selection of rides from 30 km (= just under 20 miles) upwards.  As John says “It’s for all, kids, families, groups and individuals.”   He’s unlikely to be able to make it this time but sends me a message from Alex who says:

 Just to let you know that there are 4 Clarionettes attending the Dieppe Raid (three from London and one from Yorkshire Coast Clarion sections)

If you’re interested contact Alex at

Clarion Ballad”

The last newsletter was more than a trifle on the long side. I’ve kept this one down a bit as far   as my own contributions are concerned – except for the very strange “Clarion Ballad” from 1896 which certainly goes on a bit. I’ve never thought of a bike as a subject for eroticism – but his seemed to be for Herbert Thomas. Or is that me reading things into it?



The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 158. MY STEED WITH WHIRRING WHEELS

21 May 2014

(“Clarion Ballad” from Clarion 30 May 1896)

O, steed with whirring wheels,
With the sunlight on your steels
Shall we race across the moorland where
the whitened road runs wide?
Shall we fly with rushing wings
While the lark above us sings
And, we catch the gleam of waters where
the brown-sailed luggers glide

Stay while I mount your back –
Your hammock saddle black-
I can feel your springing fibres and
your tingling ribs of steel!
Your swelling tubes of air
My forceful thrust will bear,
So fly, my little beauty,with your flashing buzzing wheel!

There’s a spirit in my feet
That makes your spirit fleet,
And they’ll whirl us to destruction if I loose your gleaming bars;
But we fly from lurking stones
That would crack our steels and bones,
For to-day we’re under orders from our hurrying lucky stars,

Do you sniff the scent of furze
As your swift wheel hums and whirrs?
Do you see the blaze of colour on the blossoms flushed with gold
And the sycamore’s ruddy leaves
Which the loom of Spring-tide weaves-
Ah! You surely glance a moment while in check your head I hold.

Clang!  rings your silver bell
And its chimes of warning tell
The teamster we are coming and our onrush he must heed;
Now he moves his straining horse
And no barrier blocks the course
So fly, Swift, fly with power that would shame an Arab steed!

Up, up the Cornish hill,
As our lungs with sea-air fill
And we tug against the head-wind that would hold us, drive us back;
Ah! there’s health in flying steel
When within our brain a wheel
is almost strained to breaking and we fear its spokes will crack!

Past villages and towns,
Past vales and heath-clad downs,
Past woods whose leaves are pointed with
the subtle dyes of Spring:
There’s a castle – hoary, grand-
There’s a sweep of meadowland,
And a ruined abbey yonder where the ivy
tendrils cling

Now halt! now halt and rest
Near the throstle’s hidden nest,
And we’ll cluck the yellow primrose and
the scented bluebell flow’r:
Here’s a drink of sparkling oil
For your bearing, hot with toil,
And I’ll munch a Cornish pasty while we
pass an idle hour.

And now your lamp-glare red
On the dim white road is shed,
Now we turn with steady motion to the
window -lights of Home:
For our furious mood is gone
As the moon shines cold and wan,
And what steed at nightfall wishes from
his stable-stall to roam?

Ah! bicycle, how like
Are a mortal and his “bike”:
Soon your wheels will rock with weakness
and your gleaming handles rust;
But we’ll range Life’s grand highway
Till we’re done with toil and play
And our lamp of joy shall glimmer through
the journey end in dust!


Herbert Thomas

Next time:  Swiftsure’s advice for touring

The Next Ride

7 May 2014

Sunday 18 May 2014: Shoreham Circular

Portslade – Devil’s Dyke – Poynings – Edburton – Bramber

For some time we have been looking for a ride from Shoreham to facilitate Clarion members living locally in West Sussex, and originally planned a gentle ride to complete Jenny’s ride to Bramber on 23 February, which was shortened due to gusty winds. To enliven the ride, we have tried to add an extra loop along Spithandle Lane to Wiston Granary and back along Mouse Lane, but getting access through the grounds of Wiston House on the day cannot be guaranteed, and returning to Steyning on the busy A283 would be too dangerous. So we have come up with a more challenging ride that Jim would say includes ‘some undulations’.

We will start at Shoreham Station and feed our way through the quiet streets of the historic village of Southwick (recorded in the Domesday Book) and on to Portslade, before turning northwards towards Benfield Valley Golf Course and arriving in Hangleton at the start of the Dyke Railway Trail – RCN 82.

For those who want to check the state of their knees and lungs on an ‘undulation’, before embarking on the 564ft climb to the top of Devil’s Dyke, you can try the short-cut from Hangleton Valley Drive up Downsview to meet up at St. Helen’s Church. In fact railway grades are seldom steeper than 1 in 40, so this smooth-surfaced trail is quite gentle, as we climb up between West Hove and Brighton and Hove Golf Courses and pass the Dyke Clubhouse. From hereon it is almost downhill all the way back to Shoreham, as we zip down Saddlescombe Road passing views to Devil’s Dyke before arriving at our lunch stop at Poynings. We don’t have many opportunities for a coffee break, but if there is time, we can pop into the Hiker’s Rest at Saddlescombe Farm before making the final leisurely ride to the Royal Oak for our lunch stop.

After this break, we head west along the foot of the Downs through Fulking and Edburton and pass Tottington Manor Farm before joining the A2037 from Henfield. There is an extant bridleway that could take us into the back of Upper Beeding, thus avoiding this busy road, but unfortunately some trees have been felled that block the route and it has now become overgrown and it is only really passable by foot. Therefore it seems that we have no option but to cycle carefully down the stretch of the Henfield Road into Castle Town and Bramber. If you blink you might miss Upper Beeding, but they do have nice beer, food and a large garden at the King’s Head.

The last leg follows the River Adur southwards along the Downs Link and across the Tollbridge to Shoreham Airport where we can take another break before continuing along the river through Ropetackle and back to Shoreham Station. If you are feeling fit and need a longer ride, you could cycle into Shoreham from Brighton and back (allow an extra 45 minutes each way).


Start at 10:20, Shoreham-by-Sea Station.

Take 10:00 train from Brighton (or get the later 10.30 train to Portslade and meet us at this station at about 11.00 if you need to get up later).

Length: 20 miles (16 if starting at Portslade)

Duration: About 6 hours including lunch and tea stops.

Return from Shoreham at 03, 33 or 48 mins past the hour to Brighton; 48 mins past the hour direct to London Victoria or 03 via Brighton.

Terrain: Quiet roads and smooth off-road to RCN 82, apart from two short lengths of B roads through Portslade; hard surface, gentle climb to the Dyke and steep downhill to Poynings (check brakepads); one short climb on Edburton Road; half mile of busy road on A2037; flat, off-road Downs Link following river meanders.

Mobile: 0783-7263722

David and Linda


The Last Ride – Helen’s Report

7 May 2014

Sunday 4 May 2014: Polegate Circular

Polegate – Rickney – Herstmonceux – Wartling – Pevensey – Polegate

Half-a dozen Clarioneggs (Angela, Helen, Joyce, Jim, Julian and Richard) set off from Polegate Station about 20 minutes late. Julian had found the station loo locked and was ejected from the Old Mill café for asking for a comfort stop without having bought a refreshment! Helen and Angela had had a bikes-on-rear-of-car issue. Then Jim insisted that we desperately wanted to know about the history of Polegate Station, there having been three in total. He promptly diverted us to the second one which is now “The Polegate Old Station Hotel”, with the nearby previous railway cutting all overgrown.

Old Station at Polegate - by Julian


We reclimbed the hill to the Cuckoo Trail finally, only and surprisingly to turn right to Rickney. The sun shone, the minor roads were beautiful and quiet, bordered by bluebells, cow parsley and campion, while we heard reed warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps to enchant us. Best of all, our attention was drawn to the magnificent male turkey strutting his stuff in front of his harem.


Finally we undulated up to Ginger’s Green, then to Stunts Green where Jim challenged us to a stunt, but none were forthcoming. Then we had a welcome lunch at the Woolpack Inn in Herstmonceux, followed by a brief visit to All Saints Church.

Herstmonceux Church - by Julian

Well satiated and more learned about galleting, though not pargetting, and finding that one of the group had not heard of The Archers, we set off at 2.15 sweating up a few under-estimated undulations.


After a brief view of the recently renovated Herstmonceux Castle, now owned by a Canadian university, we had an Isaac Newton lecture courtesy of Jim, while viewing the redundant silvery dome of the former Royal Greenwich Observatory. This whetted our appetite to revisit the Science Centre at Herstmonceux.

Isaac Newton Dome_rotated_left

A wonderful and fast descent took us to the A259 speeding cars. Eventually, after a spell of off-road tracks we arrived in Pevensey for a welcome tea break at the Royal Oak. Joyce left to return from the Pevensey Station and the rest of us went on to Polegate Station for the final five miles, completing a total of just over 23 miles. My thanks to Jim for this most enjoyable ride.



7 May 2014

Dear All

With David and Linda taking on the next ride and Helen the one after that we now have rides covered for the next few weeks.  I haven’t had anything for this newsletter from Angela but I’m assuming that everything is going to plan and everyone who is taking part knows the score – otherwise please check with Angela.

We usually have a ride for those not taking part in the weekend.  I’ve put myself down for that one – but I’m happy to defer to anyone who fancies offering something else. And of course volunteers for subsequent dates are equally welcome.

Electoral corruption in Beverley (and Shoreham)

I realised after I’d written my Easter Meet report that someone was bound to ask about the nature of what was going on in these constituencies in the C19.  Some of it is difficult to believe – though true enough. Strangely, there is relatively little published on the history of such things – I wonder why?   I’m relying on the classic account, published in 1915, would you believe, of Charles Seymour an assistant professor of history at Yale. All the quotes that follow are from Seymour’s Electoral Reform in England and Wales and the page numbers refer to the 1970 reprint by David and Charles. You’d think I was making it up otherwise.


Seymour tells us that “direct bribery had been the accepted custom” and with one exception, 1854, the royal commission that investigated in 1870 found that it had played a part in every election:

“Of the eleven hundred electors, about eight hundred were open to bribery. More than one third of these were without political principles, locally known as ‘rolling stock’; two hundred and fifty others on either side expected to be paid, and otherwise would not vote, although they did not cast their ballots against their own party. In the four elections that followed 1850, the commissioners believed that not less than two-thirds of those who voted had either received or been promised money.”  (388)

“At Beverley, a sub-agent describes going out into the market place, where the electors were waiting for the highest bidder, and openly asking how much they wanted for their votes; the cash was put down before the eyes of the whole town.” (393).

Seen as “incurable,” Beverley was disenfranchised in 1870  (422)


A similar solution was adopted in the case of Shoreham where one of the “more blatant instances of corruption” had long reigned supreme. “At Shoreham the ‘Christian Club’ held its meetings only for the purpose of deciding to whom the suffrages of the electors should be sold.” (166) In the end what seemed the only solution was adopted in Shoreham (along with several other boroughs). “Electoral corruption was such that they were thrown into the surrounding hundreds in the hope of swamping the dishonest element of the electorate.”  (167) In the case of Shoreham this meant a huge expansion of the constituency’s boundaries – in the north right up to the border with Surrey.

But what, I hear you ask, of Brighton?   Unlike Beverley and Shoreham (or Bramber and Steyning each of which had two (yes, two) MPs before 1832) Brighton was not an “ancient borough” When it was made into a parliamentary borough – with the then standard 2 MPs in 1832 it “drew forth the protests of the Tories, who complained that it would represent merely ‘toffy, lemonade and jelly shops’.”  (69) So there was no long established habit of corruption in Brighton. It also had a larger then usual electorate – which made bribery expensive – and a very active radical (Chartist in the late 1830s and ‘40s) movement.  Hove, meanwhile remained part of the county constituency.

But if the Reform Act of 1832 meant that electoral corruption was a minor problem in Brighton, elections were more robust down the road in Lewes where “it was found necessary to put the town in a state of siege at election time in order to prevent the carrying off and imprisonment of electors. This, with so many crossroads, was an expensive job, and in 1837 upwards of five hundred pounds was spent in watching the roads for a week before the election.” (174)

So there you are. Knew you’d enjoy that!



The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 157. More Club reports

7 May 2014

More Club reports (from Clarion 16 May 1896)

BURNLEY We have started a C.C.C in Burnley. Head-quarters St James’s Hall, Communications addressed to the sec, T Hodgson, 1, Latham Street, Burnley.

LEEDS In the beginning of the month we were hindered from running owing to the wet, but we have made up for it since as we met Bradford and Halifax on Saturday at Bingley where we had a glorious time of it. Again today (Sunday) we joined the above clubs for bicycle parade round Bradford, which was a great success. Next month we meet Bradford at Roundlay Park and we also meet Hull, Scarborough, and York at York when we hope to have a glorious time We also intend to meet at Hardcastle Crags at Whitsun to hear the singing of the ‘Vocal Union’ and otherwise enjoy ourselves. We run to York on Sunday, May 17th, leaving the City Square at nine o’clock prompt, when we hope a big crowd will turn out, as we are to meet York and Scarboro.’


Next time. A very long and very odd cycling poem