Please contact Ian urgently if you are able to offer a ride for 8 February.
Please contact Ian urgently if you are able to offer a ride for 8 February.
Sunday 25 January:
Norwood Junction to Greenwich, Greenwich to London Bridge
At Norwood Junction: L-R Sally, Frank, Joan, Jim, Mick O’Rorke, George, Nye, TJ
This was an urban and suburban ride, and almost (not quite) my first excursion with Clarion.
The network of small country parks and riverside routes, linked by tracks through industrial estates and quiet south London terraced streets, made a reminder that, even here, nature persistently finds a home in the spaces between, and “the fields lie sleeping underneath.” Jim’s 10-mile ride took us from S. Norwood via Catford and Ladywell to Greenwich, to finish beside the tea-clipper “Cutty Sark,” The London contingent then gave us an extension with wonderful views and some (to me) unexpected historical insights, west along the riverfront to London Bridge.
The southern contingent consisted of Jenny, Jim and Sally from Brighton, and Joan, T.J. and their son Nye (20 months) from Carshalton. The Londoners put us to shame with 9 riders (Martin, Alex, George, Alan, Frank, 2 Mikes and 2 Andys, plus Christine who joined us just for lunch), though we lost one of the Andys to a broken chain in Ladywell Fields.
From our rendez-vous at Norwood Junction station we rode through South Norwood Country Park, where the lake was dotted with goldeneye ducks and drakes, coots and moorhens, and a big white Aylesbury, who reminded Joan of her childhood duck Kate, memorable for regularly laying double-yolked eggs. On through roads and industrial estates (fascinating in their desolate way—Book Aid, Citizens of Jesus … but is so much unrelieved concrete really necessary?), then over cobbled ways that make your back teeth rattle, between allotments, to Cator Park. From here the route largely followed railway lines and and rivers, the Pool and Ravensbourne, two of the south London streams that feed the Thames, and where (we are told) grey wagtails and kingfishers can be seen.
The confluence of the Pool and Ravensbourne rivers
Lunch was at the Blythe Hill Tavern at Catford, generously laid on for us by the Londoners, for whom it is a regular stopping-place,and a very welcoming, warm and characterful place it was, with Hophead and Adnams on draught, pots of tea, and an open fire.Nye liked it so much that, after a sandwich or two, he danced non-stop in the bar.
Off again, taking a cycle path along the main road for a while to avoid going up Blythe Hill, then eventually to Ladywell Fields behind Lewisham Hospital, much altered since I was a student midwife there. At Deptford, the Londoners pointed out a restaurant in a retired red London bus. At this point we found that one of our number was still in the pub at Catford, and phone arrangements were made for a reunion further along the route.
At the Cutty Sark, restored after fire damage, but still sleek and graceful, we lingered briefly in a piazza patrolled by security staff employed to stop people from cycling through it, and enjoyed watching other riders evading them. Then about-turn and westward–ho! as the light began to fade and the Londonscape twinkled against the sky.
At the Cutty Sark: L-R Jenny, Jim, Frank, TJ, Joan, Sally
This part of the former docks has been expensively and tastefully redeveloped to house people who are certainly not dockers or waterfront workers. The streets retain the names of the wharfs and trading companies: Helsinki, Finland, Russia, Greenland, Odessa; and for much of the way we could cycle beside the Thames, avoiding motorised traffic, except where some especially pricey apartments usurped the riverfront. A fine swing bridge remains over one of the inlets, The route took us past the site of a 14th century manorhouse built by Edward III, masonry and the contour of its moats still visible. In front of it are bronze life-sized statues of Edwardian medical philanthropist Dr. Alfred Salter, his wife Ada, their daughter Joyce who died in infancy, and, on the parapet, her cat. (To find out more about the statues and the Salters click here; note, though, that the site is slightly out of date, and the stolen statues have now been replaced).
So to London Bridge station, farewell and thank you to our London guides, and off to our various trains home.
Rides for 2015 ??
At the moment we have no ride for 8 February – or indeed for any future dates. There is of course still time. I will be away from tomorrow until Monday – but if anyone can send me ride details for 8 Feb by then I will send it on to you immediately. That will still give everyone almost a week’s notice
Otherwise, it’s 22 February we need a ride offer for. I have explained in the last newsletter that I can’t ‘back-stop’ at the moment. So anyone up for it?
Subscriptions: the fee for 2015.
In case there is anyone who hasn’t renewed their membership for 2015 – and since I wrote this Julian has told me that there are still lots who haven’t – can I remind you that the subscription fee is £8? Send your cheque to Julian Arkell, Treasurer, 17 Normandy House, 18 The Drive, Hove, BN3 3JB
Alternatively you can pay by BACS but if you do it is vital lhat you let Julian know that you have done so. The details are
Bank The Co-operative Bank
Sort Code: 08-92-99
Account Number: 65377325
Acc Name: Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club
Reference: [your own surname]
Email Julian to confirm
Any problems, phone Julian on: 01273 911342.
It’s not often we get someone taking on writing the ride report on (almost) their first ride with us. So an extra ‘thank you ‘ is in order.
Peter’s Early Days in the Clarion
I’ve heard again from our friend Peter Roscoe, secretary of Bury Clarion CC. He includes some thoughts and reminiscences about early times in the Club. I’ve edited it just slightly.
I picked in up a copy of Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain in a charity shop found it very readable. Robert Blatchford gets a couple of mentions and so does the Clarion Caravans. Now, I would have thought the Clarion Cyclists would have had more influence politically. I know for example Bury Clarion’s first ride in 1901 was as much to do with distributing socialist leaflets as cycling.
In my first decades with Bury Clarion I knew those who had been cycling in the 1920’s. I wish I had shown greater interest in their stories and asked them more. I wonder at times if I am recalling things accurately.
I recall, Evelyn, the sister in law of secretary Sam Derby telling me he and his wife once lived in a caravan. This was probably after the First World War. I wonder if it was one of the Clarion caravans – if only I had read Denis Pye’s book then. Sam served in the first world war – he told me some pretty gruesome stories about young soldiers being shot for falling asleep on guard duty – this is not mentioned by Andrew Marr.
I recall Sam’s wife one time saying of a planned social ‘we are having a smoker’ – ‘what’s a smoker’ I asked ‘nobody smokes in our club. I know now, of course. There were 6 Derby brothers and three of them cycled with Bury Clarion. The three who cycled are on attached photo – Joe and Sam with the rose bowl in the middle and Alt on the far left as you look at it. I’m just behind Sam. None of those who raced are in the picture I took the initiative to make it easy for them to see us from Knott End. I do not know the year – somewhere around 1970.
Incidentally, Donald Lever’s father was a contemporary of the Derby’s in the 1920s/30s. He is on the far left as you look at the photo.
Evelyn, Joe’s wife, was one who would tell me things about their socialist experiences in the 1920’s and 30’s. I don’t really recall much except they attended demonstrations and they knew the Bury volunteer who lost his life in the Spanish civil war. Victoria Hislop wrote a good book about this conflict it is partly based in England following a group of refugee children. Some refugee children were located in Holy Mount convent – not far from Ramsbottom where we had the Easter Meet in 2009. Hope I am not boring you – once I start I’m like someone who as a child was vaccinated with a gramophone needle.
In Clarion Fellowship
Boring us is not something you are ever likely to accomplish, Peter!
I thought it would be interesting to compare two CC club reports, both from London. (By the C20 century regional “unions” were part of the Clarion structure). The first is from 11 July 1896 and the second from 3 July 1914. By the latter date there were so many Clarion cycling clubs that reports had to be much shorter – often almost telegraphic!
This will be our first full joint ride with the London Clarion section. It is a truncated version of my Croydon-Greenwich ride of 1 July 2012, with the first 8 miles of boring suburban streets reduced to 1. It will still include all the wonderful parks, including the semi-wild South Norwood Country Park, Cator Park, Ladywell Fields, and the “linear park” running along the valleys of the Pool and Ravensbourne rivers.
After the last ride, Angelika took us on a bonus impromptu ride through Docklands, and we hope to have a similar treat this time at the hands of the London section, making the ride truly a joint effort.
Start at Norwood Junction Station at 11:30. Take the 10:00 Victoria train or the 10:14 Bedford train from Brighton, or the 9:48 from Shoreham (9:55 from Hove), and change at East Croydon.
Return trains … errr … depend on where we end up! But of course it is London and there are lots of stations, and even more trains.
Lunch will be at the Blythe Hill Tavern in Catford.
Distance: The Norwood-Greenwich leg is about 10 miles, which at our normal average cat-herding speed will take about 3 hours including lunch.
Terrain: Most of the ride is on good-quality NCN cycle paths, some on roads. No hills!
It was most certainly a ride of two halves today. Of the ten on the ride, six – Anne, Roger, David, Julian, Sue and a very welcome new rider, Delia – set off from Palace Pier under an auspicious combination of bright low sun and a high silvery moon. Mick very kindly stayed behind to meet your correspondent who arrived rather late and by multimodal transport (replacement bus service). As we put the hammer down to catch up with the peloton, we were unaware that Nick was conducting a search for his wallet and then pausing for photo opportunities, eventually catching the group at the lunch stop.
The ride proceeded enjoyably along the Undercliff Walk to Saltdean where Angela joined us. From there to Hoddern Farm where new lambs were admired, ponies approached and a buzzard and various corvids spotted, then on to Southease where the new Egrets Way was tested until the made path ran out. A short visit to the Southease parish church of St Peter (Saxon, dating from 966, notable for its unusual round tower) was followed by a lunch stop at the Abergavenny Arms, an excellent choice as not only was the food good, it was served extremely quickly.
Lunchtime conversation was split between the intellectual end of the table where I am assured that serious political debate took place, and the other end which focused on lycra louts, the undesirability of modern brewing methods and the Clarions’ penchant for food photography.
The afternoon brought a change in fortune and weather, the predicted ‘freshening’ became a howling icy blast and some of us struggled to climb the hill to Telscombe where superb views were on offer. A puncture then struck, following the rules of punctures which are that it should occur at the most inconvenient time and in the worst possible conditions. The best of Clarion fellowship was then seen with a team of volunteers (thank you Mick, David and Roger) fixing it, with other riders recording the event and offering helpful suggestions on the need for a bucket of water and giving an inventive description of how to improvise when this was not available.
Some hard work followed as we rode on into the headwind over the Tye and down to the Undercliff Walk. We considered taking the road but concluded that what Anne described as the ice bucket challenge was preferable to the likelihood of being blown into the traffic. This ride had it all – fellowship, farm animals, great views, a more challenging climb than usual and some extreme weather – possibly the most exciting Clarion ride ever! Many thanks to Anne and Mick for a great day out.
Rides for 2015
Jim (and Alex) have come up with an interestingly different ride for 25th January. So we are now looking for rides for February and March, most immediately for 8 February. When you do write a ride description, please describe any steps, stiles or other features that might cause problems – particularly for people using electric bikes.
Subscriptions: the new situation
As those who took part or have looked at the draft AGM minutes will know we decided to suspend the local fee of £1 not just for 2015 but for 2016 too. This will enable us to be able – at the 2016 AGM for the first time – to decide on whether or not to continue the suspension a year in advance.
Any change in the national subscription will be made at the conference during the Easter Meet so we will know well in advance exactly what our subs will be.
This will make the treasurer’s job – and to some extent mine as secretary – a whole lot easier since we won’t have to wait until our own AGM to know what the overall fee for the year will be and will be able to start asking people to send in their subs much earlier
Subscriptions: the fee for 2015. Message from our Treasurer
The national subscription was raised last Easter to £8. Since our recent AGM decided that the current Club bank balance is sufficient without calling on members for the traditional £1 local subscription during 2015 this means that the total we are required to pay is £8
Prompt payment would appreciated. Membership ceases if payment is not received.
Please complete the form you will have received with the newsletter and return it to me at the address on the form. If you prefer to pay by BACS, details below, please use your surname as reference and email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm. Payment by PayPal is not possible.
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that I haven’t indicated this year any dates when I can “backstop” if no one comes forward to offer a ride. The immediate reason for this is that the way things have turned out, I’m otherwise engaged for all the January and February dates.
When we started 11 years ago I did organise and lead the vast majority of rides but this became less and less necessary as our numbers grew and more people came up with interesting ideas for rides. Last year I led just 3 rides (the New Year one doesn’t count).
Some people managed more than this, but I think 2 or 3 rides a year is a reasonable “ration” for any member; indeed if everyone who comes on rides from time to time took on just one ride a year there would be no need for anyone to do more.
In the Clarion Blatchford always argued that in any organisation – he was thinking of ILP branches – anyone “left to bear the burden” had a democratic duty to refuse to make up the deficiency. As he wrote in the paper on 10 November 1894 “A man is foolish and wrong if he attempts to carry the whole branch on his back. Let him tell his comrades that they must help with the work or let it go undone.” As is often the case with Blatchford, one agrees in principle, but thinks that in practice it’s a bit harder than he seems to suggest.
There was a time when, if I’d mentioned this – or used the quote above people would have thought I was having a moan. But not now! As I reported to the AGM, whereas in 2013 we had 11 people who took on rides last year we had 15. I think even dear old Robert Blatchford wouldn’t have expected that each and every member would be able to make an equal effort or put in an equal amount of time. But I like to think he would think that we are doing pretty well – and let’s hope that continues.
It is not only the rides of course. Think of the time and energy Julian and before him Jim put in to the treasurer’s job – which also includes the member secretary role. Then there’s Fred who puts in about half a day’s work a fortnight to bring the blog up to date. And Angela organising social events – and last year the Kent weekend, Roger who kept the newsletters going while I was away as well as chairing our meetings immaculately, all the people who write ride reports or make other contributions to this newsletter, We don’t want to get too swell-headed about it but I think we are doing pretty well.
That said we could do with some ride offers for February and March!
In its heyday the Clarion had an extensive range of clubs and activities associated with it of which there are now very few survivors – apart of course from us in the National Clarion Cycling Club.
While researching something else entirely this morning I came upon one example from July 1914 which was reported not in the Clarion but in Justice, the weekly paper of the British Socialist Party.
It was a report of the AGM of the North London Clarion Players, which, it said would be “shortly casting Mr Blatchford’s great propaganda play ‘the Mingled Yarn’ which will be produced in the autumn at one of the smaller West End theatres.”
A Cycling Opportunity in the Normandy Countryside
John Clinton posted a notice re the Dieppe Raid recently and I thought I would add my piece, because this is really a great opportunity for Clarionets to get some cycling in a different countryside (much as we love Sussex) and experience the delights of Dieppe, one of my favourite places …
The Dieppe Raid cycle tour will be 27 – 29 June (although you can of course make it a longer stay). The rides are on Sunday and there is the choice of 6 different distances to suit all riders (have opted for the 30 km). Places have been reserved on the ferry – to access all info is on the web site. So far three of us are going from B&H Clarion and I understand there have been some “national” Clarion applications?? So check it out on www.dieppetour.com or google Dieppe Raid cycle tour.
Joyce, John, Leon