The Next Ride: Sunday  7 September  – Brighton to Seaford and/or Berwick (Sussex!)

27 August 2014

Meet at Palace Pier at 10am & cycle east to Seaford Head along the NCN2 with some modifications & some chance to escape back by train, should weather, health or inclination incline.

Mick & I modified the NCN2 East ride to Berwick the other week, so that we rode from Seaford to South Hill Barn. I think this would be a nice alternative to going to Berwick, as trains from Seaford are half hourly & 3 or 4 carriages, whereas Berwick uses Ashford’s hourly packed 2 carriages. We can still picnic if the weather is good & nice walks on Seaford Head Nature Reserve. Have checked the trains and they are the same times 27 & 57 minutes past the hour. Would add that it will just be me leading as Mick has a new whizzy bike & is doing a CTC Bright ‘n’ Breezy 100km ride that day with Bob Harber. Hope they wear Clarion gear & that some mechanically able join me, as I am feeble.

We could modify the route depending on who turns up, but yesterday we took the more undulating top route rather than the Undercliff to Rottingdean & the Hoddern Farm road to Newhaven, rather than the exciting [!] clifftop footpath! If weather is still warm, we propose picnic & swim at Seaford, but, if slow or nasty weather can eat at The Ark at Newhaven.

We can stop for tea at the Litlington Tea Garden & proceed to Berwick Station for the train back to Brighton, or return by train from Seaford for a shorter ride.

Trains leave Berwick station hourly at 48 mins past 3, 4, 5, etc & Seaford station half-hourly at 27 & 57 past 2, 3, 4, etc.

Lunch bring picnic or  if nasty weather can eat at The Ark, Newhaven.

Terrain Almost all on quiet roads with considerate drivers [yesterday anyway!] Somewhat undulating in parts, but only short parts. Good views.

Distance: 23 miles.

Anne and Mick

The Last Ride: Sunday 24 August 2014: Shoreham Beach and Lagoon – or A Bridge Not Too Far

27 August 2014

Ist start at the Palace Pier

Waiting at the Palace Pier were Ian, Leon, Joyce, Linda and Rob (who volunteered to be back stop) and after a quick group photo we set off westwards along the sea front, taking a detour onto the main road as we passed where the i360 will stand.

2nd start in Hove

Into Hove and at Marrocco’s we picked up Tessa, Corinne, Prudence and Richard. Another group shot and we were on our way, past Zippo’s circus (that use chip fat to power their wagons) and swathes of poppies and other wild flowers along the Hove cycle path.

Hove poppies

At Hove lagoon we turned onto Basin Road towards the power station. The sea was as still as a mill pond and the weather pleasantly warm and dry.

Shoreham locks

We by-passed Carat’s cafe, crossed the lock gates and headed into suburban Southwick passing various schools and churches (see Ian’s description) until we reached the new shared-space bridge at Shoreham.

New Shoreham footbridge

There was a festival of sorts going on but we didn’t have time to investigate. We headed back towards the power station, but this time on the opposite side of the Adur following a line of flying swans, until we reached Shoreham Fort, which was undergoing some restoration. Then it was west again past the rows of houses with balconies and bungalows that constitute Shoreham Beach, once home to an actors’ community living in railway carriages.

Widewater lagoon

At Widewater Lagoon, we walked (or cycled) across a causeway and onto the busy Brighton Road, before turning off to the airport, where we had lunch. Coincidentally Roger and Suzanne were there at the bar and with one section indoors and another outdoors, we compared meals and the changes since the cafe became Hummingbirds.

Shoreham airport

I also had a pint of Spitfire to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

Then it was round the airport periphery, over the wooden Old Toll Bridge, which we helped to save all those years ago, and briefly along the riverside cycle path before plunging into housing estates on our way back to Brighton, losing people along the way, until back near Zippo’s in Hove, we bumped into John coming the other way, and Ian declared the ride at an end.


More photos on Flickr.

Leon's T-shirt

I must just add that originally Linda had volunteered to write the report but felt unwell when we got to Shoreham fort. Hope she recovered quickly. Ian


27 August 2014

Dear All

Our next ride is the one Anne and Mick tried to do a fortnight ago – but were defeated by the remnants of that hurricane.  Let’s hope it’s a case of “better luck next time.”

19 October – with London Clarion?

After the last newsletter I received an email from Alex of the London Clarion.

Have you managed to find a leader for your ride on 19th October yet please? If not, perhaps London Clarion could travel down to Brighton or somewhere close and lead a ride terminating in Haywards Heath where Martin, our secretary’s, son has an off licence with a bar downstairs in which he could host some drinks for us.

That seems to me like an excellent idea. No-one else has come forward with a suggestion.  Bearing in mind our liking for short rides, starting and finishing at Hassocks might suit us.  This would give us a ride of 14-16 miles (depending on where exactly in HH Martin is located.  By putting in a loop round by the Polish Battle of Britain memorial and Wivelsfield we could make it a bit longer.  Hardier souls (e g from London) might want to skip Hassocks on the way back and ride into Brighton – where maybe we could see them for a drink later.

But that’s only my first thoughts. What do other people think? I think I’ll be OK for 19 October – haven’t (yet!) marked it as one I couldn’t backstop – but I’m not 100% sure.  Also, I’ll be away for most of September and the first few days of October. So it might be an idea if someone who will be around then would take on liaising with Alex. He’s at But (both) please keep me in the loop.

Other rides

Time goes faster and faster – or so it seems. One minute it’s still early 2014 and the next we are hurtling towards Christmas. You’ll see that I’ve put myself down for the 30 November ride. Since we started back in 2004 we’ve always tried to end the year with this short ride based on Berwick. Being conservative in everything except politics, I’d like to keep the tradition up – but I’m otherwise “spoken for” on the Sunday of our last ride date – so I thought we could do it on the penultimate date this year. Always assuming that the trains are right – which one can’t yet check.

That leaves (assuming we take Alex up on his offer) just 3 more rides yet vacant for the year – 2 and 16 November and 14 December. The only one I could backstop is the first one – so we need 2 – and preferably 3 – more volunteers to see us into 2015

This week’s extract from the Clarion 

I have to say that I feel very ambivalent about all the attention currently being given to the centenary of the First World War and am somewhat reluctant to inflict more WWI stuff on you. So I’d better explain how today’s contribution came about. I was asked at the beginning of the year if I’d do a short article – or possibly more than one – about socialists and the war for the magazine Chartist. I agreed to do this and so far two of my pieces have been published and a third one should be appearing in the final issue of the year.

More than any other part of the political spectrum, the Left in Britain was seriously divided by attitudes to the war and this had implications for what happened later. My first piece was about this and how the post-war reaction to the slaughter helped the Labour Party to replace the Liberals and Ramsay MacDonald – vilified by the right-wing press for “anti-war” attitudes – to become prime minister in 1924. The second looked at the BSP weekly Justice in the early months of the war. It eventually became “pro-war” but earlier had reflected a whole range of different takes on the hostilities. My third piece, still to appear, looks at the Clarion.

The first wartime issue of the paper on 7 August (Britain had declared war on 4th) carried Blatchford’s article “The Drums of Armageddon,” which began “I have lived a whole week in a kind of waking nightmare.” A week later he came out unambiguously in (reluctant) support for the war. He was supported by his friend and fellow Clarion editor Alex Thompson – who had been born in Germany and had German as his first language – and other Clarion stalwarts. But this was the beginning of the end of the paper’s previously huge influence on the British Left – though it staggered on until the early 1930s and was briefly replaced by the TUC-supported New Clarion.

I promised “something different” last time – and here it is. I came across the Tom Groom piece while researching my Chartist article but didn’t use it there.

I’m planning to revert to 1896 next time.

More on Shoreham

In my ride details last time I mentioned the opening of the Prince Phillip lock. Soon after I sent it out I received this message from Mick.

Thanks for the bulletin Ian. As a trivial matter of interest, I was present in 1958 when Prince Philip opened the new lock; we got a day off school! Also my parents used to live on the corner of Buckingham Road Shoreham and Old Shoreham Road in a house called “Eldesorham”, which of course means Old Shoreham so it really was the road to Old Shoreham for me!

BTW – before anyone points out all the “points of interest” I didn’t mention last time, my defence is that I was careful to use the word “Some” I didn’t include the various interesting features of the High Street because my planned route didn’t take us down (or up) it. So the fascinating medieval Marlipins with its chequerboard front – of which no one is sure of the original use didn’t get a mention. Then there’s the striking pub sign of the Crown and Anchor which I can’t shed much light on. The large figure is usually described as a pirate – but he looks to me more like a regular seaman from the Middle Ages – true he’s armed, but you’d have to have been a real optimist in those days to venture into the Channel without a cutlass. There’s also the neoclassical former town hall which began life in 1830 as the customs house and is now (I think) a restaurant. And at the end we have the fairly recent Ropetackle building. How to describe it? Inoffensively post-modern – or is that unfair?


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 164. Tom Groom’s “Cyclorama” 

27 August 2014

(from The Clarion, 21 August 1914)

If any single person could claim to have created the Clarion CC it was Tom Groom who is still commemorated by the annual award at the Easter Meet of a trophy named after him. In the very first episode in this series of extracts – back on 4 February 2008 – I reproduced the letter from the paper from 28 April 1894 in which he describes the first tour of his newly-formed Clarion Cycling Club in Birmingham.

By 1914 things had moved on enormously.  Groom was the first president of the CCC and had a regular feature called “Cyclorama” in the paper. Quite separately, reports from the local CCCs appeared – now much briefer than the ones from 18 years or so earlier which I’ve been featuring. You filled in a standard card and sent it in.  There would be about 60  reports each week.

What follows is from Tom Groom’s “Cyclorama” of 21 August 1914, it’s too long to reproduce the whole thing but I hope my editing gives a reasonable impression of its contents.

Here’s how it starts:

The war.  Nothing but the war. From Slush Lane to Worcester, from Worcester to Hereford and back again to Slush Lane, one heard nothing but war talk.

He stops at a “wayside inn” and joins locals on the bench outside listening to the peaceful sound of the reaping machine in the field opposite – and talking about the war

Serious talk, too.  There was none of that empty blether that one heard when the war was a few thousand miles off.  There were tales of horses commandeered whilst taking produce to market, of waggons* left on the roadside to take their chance of being hauled away, of men called from reaping to take their places in the ranks, of villages almost depleted as reservists and recruits had marched away.

And this was only the beginning. The big fight was yet to come, and the fear of what might happen kept the talk in a serious vein.

*                     *                 *                     *

I finished my ale and rode on to Hereford.  A lovely ride and over ground that I know full well.  In the narrow lanes the talk of war seemed absurd, so peaceful and quiet was everything…

War! Ridiculous!  Yet there were two million men rushing to cut each other’s throats, and the devil alone knows why.

*                     *                 *                     *

In Hereford the movement was quicker. The ‘Terriers’** were marching through the city and men and lads were joining in the march.  The C.C.C must get itself in readiness. When the worst is over and the men get back, it will be our work to enforce the morals of the occasion. So many ‘impossibilities’ have become possible in these last few weeks, and we must draw the attention of the workers to them.

It is, or was ‘impossible’ to interfere with the law of supply and demand, yet the Government stepped in to interfere with scare prices for food being forced on the nation. “Impossible” to take over the food supply of the nation, yet the ‘impossible’ becomes possible by a mere Order in Council.  “Impossible” to manage industries nationally, yet at an hour’s notice the railways are in charge of the Government.  So many ‘impossibilities’ become possible, and the moral needs driving home

*                     *                 *                     *

I rode home and landed at our pub in time to hear the last words of the oracle; ‘Tell ‘ee what it is, George. We’m got to fight for our country whether we’m like or no. An’ if it ain’t our country as you says, well it be damned nigh time that it be.  But we’m got to fight.’

Which sentiments I wish to endorse, and more also.

Next time: Back to 1896

*That’s his spelling. More often “wagons” today.  But note  the Waggon and Horses opposite the Dome in Church Street 

** = Territorial Army  – which had replaced the less ‘professional’ Volunteers a few years previously as part of Haldane’s army reforms.

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 August 2014: Shoreham Beach and Lagoon – or A Bridge Not Too Far

11 August 2014

I’ve been past the new bridge at Shoreham a few times – but not yet had an occasion to cycle over it; which is what has inspired me to revive this old ride, once billed a few years back as “The Mysteries of Shoreham Beach” or something similar. I always find Shoreham a slightly odd but interesting area. Centuries ago its main part moved down the river towards the sea creating New Shoreham to complement Old Shoreham. Many newcomers to Brighton assume that the Old Shoreham Road means “the old road to Shoreham” rather than “the road to Old Shoreham.” But I digress

We’ll meet at Palace Pier take the South Basin Road past Carats Café and walk over the locks then take a variant of the signposted cycle route to Shoreham, cross the bridge and double back towards the harbour entrance and the remains of Shoreham Fort. Then we’ll go down to Widewater Lagoon nature reserve, cross the footbridge and ride carefully back along the main road until we can turn off for the airport, where we will have a lunch stop before returning to B&H via the Old Toll Bridge, back roads (and a short stretch of New Church Road) before rejoining the seafront cycle path back to our starting point.

Catering at the airport has gone up a notch since Hummingbird (named as the menus tell us after the pioneer aircraft which started it all off before World War I) took over. But one can’t book for lunch unless one has a definite number of people – I think it’s 20 – to fill one of the rooms adjacent to the main café. Obviously not possible for us.

However, we will have two kinds of insurance against going hungry. With the fairly early start we should arrive before it gets too busy and if the worst comes to the worst there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, pubs that do food and so on not too far away in the high street.


Another cheap (no trains involved) and easy ride starting at Palace Pier

Meet at Palace Pier at 10 a m (or join our merry throng en route by Marrocco’s if you live west of Palace Pier).

Terrain – as flat as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Roads. Mixture of cycle path and quiet urban roads with two short stretches of busier ones

Lunch at Shoreham Airport (but see above)

Distance c 18/19 miles Palace Pier to Palace Pier – add or subtract according to your starting point.

My mobile number is 07770743287

Some Points of Interest

Shoreham Harbour Locks
The Prince George Lock was opened in 1933 and the larger Prince Phillip one in 1958 – by the man himself.

St Julian
We’ll pass by this church – being Sunday – but it’s worth a visit another time to see the various interesting features of the interior including the two-decker pulpit… There is what I believe is a tithe barn nearby which was restored a few years back after a fire

St Mary De Haura, New Shoreham (de Haura is, it’s thought, a corruption of de Havre)
This massive and impressive church is really important in architectural history. It’s usually described as “Transitional” meaning that it belongs to the period when Romanesque was beginning to give way to Gothic. Ian Nairn who covered West Sussex (only) in Pevsner’s Buildings of England devoted five and a half detailed pages to it

Shoreham Fort (aka Shoreham Redoubt or Kingston Redoubt)
After Louis Napoleon had made himself Napoleon III in the coup of 1852 there was fear in Britain that like his uncle the new emperor might be planning an invasion. Shoreham Fort incorporating the latest defensive technology was one of several “Palmerston forts” built along the south coast. It dates from 1857 and was no doubt considered timely two years later when Napoleon III’s participation in the Italian war triggered one of the most serious “war scares” of the C19. Google for more info on the fort.

Widewater Lagoon
The nature reserve is narrow and only about a kilometre in length. It may not be much to look at but fortunately the visiting wildlife are a bit deficient in aesthetic sensibility

Shoreham Airport
The oldest licensed airport in the UK. It all started in 1910 when Harold Pifffard built and flew his Hummingbird. The Grade II * listed Art Deco building by Stavers Tiltman was opened in 1936. From the airport there is a great view of

Lancing College Chapel
A quintessentially Gothic Revival building by R H Carpenter begun in 1868

The Old Toll Bridge
As older members will remember we took part for several years in charity rides to restore the bridge. It’s another Grade II * listed structure which was the last toll bridge in operation in Sussex. It closed for motor traffic in 1968. I can remember being driven over it shortly before that.

St Nicholas, Old Shoreham
Some bits of this church are Saxon but much of it dates from c 1140

The Swiss Gardens
The pub and the pool next to it are all that remains of what was a very successful Victorian attraction. An old colleague of mine, Roy Sharp, wrote a brief history of it which you can now find online if you google Swiss Gardens, Shoreham. The memory is also preserved in the name of the local primary school and a road.



11 August 2014

11 August 2014

Dear All

Mick and Anne had to “abort” yesterday’s ride, but will be offering it again on 7 September. With Julian taking on 21 September and Jim volunteering (provisionally) for 5 October that leaves, for the moment, just the next ride – which I will “back stop” (see below).

I don’t want to “go on about it” but I won’t pretend not to be disappointed with the results of my appeal for people to take on rides. I’m also a bit bewildered. A few years ago when we had fewer members it was never a problem to get volunteers in the summer. Sometimes there was even competition, believe it or not. I remember emailing people along the lines of “Thanks for the offer but X’s message arrived before yours. But perhaps we could recycle your ride for ???August/Sept?” Perhaps it’s just that people are going away at the crucial times this year. That’ll be it, I expect.

However, there’s now lots of time to plan for 19 October onwards.

Don’t forget if you plan to come on a ride if the ride has to be cancelled for any reason (usually the wretched weather) a message will be sent out the day before not later than 5 pm (unless otherwise notified) So make sure to check after that time.

One step forward, two steps back

This is one of the sub-heads used by Laura Laker in her article “Back to the Drawing Board” in the current edition of Cycling Weekly. On the one hand, she reports, consultations are taking place on a new Safer Lorry Scheme. “With the new rules, which could come into force next year, HGVs without side-bars and safety mirrors will be banned from the existing Low Emissions Zone.” Not before time, you will think, and why confine it to a relatively small area you will ask. Of the 14 cyclists killed in London in 2013, nine involved HGVs.

But then last week the Department of Transport announces that the speed limit for lorries over 7.5 tonnes will be increased from 40 to 50 mph on country roads. As the article reports, “British Cycling calls the move, intended to save hauliers money, staggering, adding that many HGVs aren’t fit for purpose. It criticised the government’s failure to close loopholes which allow lorries without additional mirrors and safety equipment to operate on our roads.”

I’d like to say that this defies belief – but, sadly, we’ve got increasingly used to such idiocy.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 164. Swiftsure’s brush with the law

11 August 2014

(from “Cycling Notes” The Clarion. 27 June 1896)

Lighting-up time, Saturday June 27, 9–19 p.m.

The above time for lighting up is Greenwich time, as most cyclists are aware, and is therefore not applicable to all parts of the kingdom. But for all that, those anxious to keep out of the clutches of the ever-watchful police would be well-advised, if they light up at that time, so as to be on the safe side.

As an illustration of such a necessity, I may say that last Saturday evening I was stopped between Crewe and Sandbach by a policeman at 9-25., who demanded to know why I was riding without a light. As the correct time for lighting up at that point was 9-40, I quickly retorted by producing my watch, and asserted that I had still a quarter of an hour’s grace. The over-zealous officer protested that he knew what lighting-up time was, and could prove that the proper lamp time was 9-20.

However, when he saw that I was not to be bluffed, he said, “Well, I had better get my lamp lit, or I would be booked if I went much further without.” Of course, I complied with the intimidation, and remounted, thanking the officer for nothing! But I can well believe that if I had been without a watch, or shown the least hesitation in my assertions as to the correct time to light up, I should have been booked, and fined after the usual hard swearing necessary to the occasion.

Riding home an hour or so later through the inky darkness and against a howling wind, I couldn’t help anathematising the stupidity of the law which compels cyclists (rightly, of course) to carry a light between one hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise, whilst traps and other vehicles are permitted to meander their way along country roads without a warning light. On this occasion it was only by the merest shave that an accident was averted, when we came suddenly on a trap, which couldn’t be seen ten yards away, or even heard, on account of the wind.

Next time – something different!