The Last Ride: Sunday 24 June 2018 – Downslink Revisited

29 June 2018

The weather promised to be pleasant for Graham’s ride, and it kept that promise of sun and a little light breeze.

The Downslink as impressionist painting

This picture of the Downslink, taken on the move, resembles a French Impressionist paiting. In fact, it turns out that Camille Pissarro, after painting Lordship Lane station in London, got really into railways and decided to visit the Horsham-Shoreham line. Unfortunately he got hit by a train and fell into a deep coma by the side of the track, waking only in 2018 to paint this picture …..

Despite Southern Railways’ best efforts to thwart us Graham, Wendy, Sikka, Jim and Richard all made it to Christ’s Hospital Horsham on time. Graham had warned of iguanodons en route. He was correct. One such posed with us for a photo, but we could not tarry longer.

Wendy and Sikka riding the iguanodon

Wendy and Sikka riding the Southwater iguanodon

The Downslink beckoned and splendid it was. Downhill most of the way and many a leafy corridor with views across the fields. Our morning coffee stop was at the almost legendary Stan’s Bike Shed, a sort of bike-friendly scout hut cum Costa Coffee on the edge of a field.

Coffee stop at Stan's

L-R Wendy, Graham, Sikka, Richard

After same and a good scenic spin we arrived at The Plough. All I think agreed on the quality and quantity of the Sunday roasts provided. Following lunch, a futher ride down to Shoreham along the Adur. The formal ride concluded there but some headed for the sea for a dip or a paddle and then tea in West Hove.

First crossing of the Adur, at Betley Bridge

First crossing of the Adur

An excellent day out and much thanks to Graham for his patient leadership and navigation.

Richard (S)

29 June 2018

Dear All

We seem to have most of the summer covered now – except for 19 August.

You’ll see that there is a final appeal below from Roger for everyone who can to take part in the ‘Cycling Around the World’ event on 1 July. I’m not up to coming out on a regular Clarion ride at the moment – though I hope to get fit enough before too long. But I should be able to manage a circuit or two of the Preston Park track. Any of us could find ourselves in need of the sort of help First Base provides; it’s a really good cause. As that Phil Ochs song back in 1963 later made famous by Joan Baez has it – ‘There but for fortune goes you or I’

Latest on Julian – Wendy Reports
Jim and I visited Julian on Saturday, and were pleased to find him walking quite nimbly just with a walking stick. The physio had visited the previous day and really put him through his paces!  She got him to walk from his flat all the way to Hove Town Hall and back, which had left him rather tired.
During the conversation Julian mentioned how tiring it can be when he has to go for a hospital appointment as he relies on hospital transport, and the ambulance also collects other folk and drops them home, so he can be left waiting around. A recent trip meant that he was out for over 4 hours, which was quite an ordeal. It occurred to me that if he were to circulate an email advising of dates and times of appointments, Clarion folk with access to a car might be happy to offer Julian transport, thus also getting to spend some time with Julian, which as we know, is always a pleasure.  

I think that’s an excellent idea – wish I had thought of it! Since receiving Wendy’s message I’ve talked to Julian on the ‘phone and he’d welcome any offers of help. But he has no appointments due for some time at the moment so I can’t pass on anything in this newsletter. But if you can lend a hand in the way that Wendy has suggested, please email him at


Cycle Challenge Sunday 1st July
Just a quick reminder that the “Round the World Challenge” is rapidly approaching. It involves completing as many (or as few) laps as you choose of the Preston Park Velodrome. All laps will be counted and if the total for all riders reaches 66,792 then we will all have jointly cycled a distance equivalent to the circumference of the World!

Even if we don’t reach that total (which may well be the case), we will hopefully have raised some funds through sponsorship for First Base, which is Brighton Housing Trust’s drop-in centre for street sleepers and others who are “vulnerably housed”.
You need to register to take part, which you can do here. If you can, why not join me and Suzanne at 12 noon, when we will be adding our few laps? The rules of the challenge say that you must wear a helmet!

If you can’t make it yourself, perhaps you could sponsor me or one of the other Clarion members taking part. Just let your chosen rider know the amount of your sponsorship (a fixed sum – not an amount per lap) and, if you’re a tax payer, give your address (including postcode) to add Gift Aid – at no extra cost. Or, your chosen rider may be using JustGiving (I’m not).
Hope to see you on 1st July!


Clarion History – 4 The Earliest Days of the Clarion

29 June 2018

I finished the last episode the with launch the Clarion in December 1891. The paper was to survive until the early 1930s and even then there was a TUC backed initiative – which sadly didn’t last very long – to pick up on the appeal of the original paper with the New Clarion. For a weekly paper of the political Left the Clarion had a decent circulation – never less than 30,000 and often twice or even three times that.

But in 1892 just after the paper was founded the question was whether it would survive till the end of the year. As a result of a critical article the Clarion was faced with a writ for libel from a railway company. Had Blatchford and Co been faced with significant damages that would almost certainly have been the end of the Clarion, but fortunately this didn’t happen and the crisis was weathered.

I mentioned last time that in the summer of 1891 Blatchford had been adopted as an ‘independent Labour’ parliamentary candidate for the newly-formed Bradford Labour Union. One result of the threat to the paper of the legal action was that he withdrew his candidature. He was never again to stand for any sort of public office, something whose possible significance I will return to in future episodes. [For more on this, if you have access to a library likely to have a copy, see the 1951 biography of Blatchford by Laurence Thompson – son of A.M Thompson who co-founded the paper – Portrait of an Englishman. The Life of Robert Blatchford – especially for the writ crisis pp 84-85.]

Bradford was not the only place where Lib-Labism had hit the buffers. The idea of independent (of the Liberals) Labour representation was spreading fast, particularly in the North. Throughout 1892 the Manchester-based Clarion played a significant role in the spread of local organisations campaigning on these lines. This is particularly true of the Manchester and Salford Independent Labour Party.

A distinctive feature of this organisation was what became known as ‘the Manchester Fourth Clause.’ Supported by the Clarion this committed members to abstain from voting for any non-socialist candidate in all circumstance – including where there was no socialist one standing. This became a significant issue for the national Independent Labour Party, founded in Bradford in 1893 which will be the subject of the next episode.


Next time The Clarion and the founding of the ILP

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 June 2018

14 June 2018

Sunday 24 June     Downslink Revisited (What so soon!)

Following the last ride those who missed out or just want another visit to Stan’s or a lunch at the Plough have requested that I do it again. Due to Sue’s injury we have an early opportunity. Best wishes to Sue for an early recovery.

To spice things up and maybe entice more returnees, I am adding a First to Stan’s competition.

A free tea or coffee and cake for the first one to get to Stan’s, obviously not me. This may be hard to watch!!

This ride explores the Downslink trail to Shoreham which should be nice and dry unless the weather changes, and of course downhill most of the way.

The Downslink surface is mostly hard, compacted earth and stones, Apart from the road sections and the new surface coming into Shoreham. Ok for MTB or Hybrid.

The first section to Henfield takes us first via Southwater where the track is a bit narrow and we have to cross the Worthing Road and then a little further on Cripplegate Lane (There is a Cafe here should anyone need a comfort break) then on under the A24 and out into the countryside.

Then on past Copsale where we cross Bar Lane then under the Cowfold road and over the B2135 at Needs Bridge, and on into Partridge Green.

Here we have to turn right onto the B2135 for a short distance and then left again at Stans Bike Shack. (This is 8 miles into our Journey so option for Coffee and a break ).

Our Lunch stop is 3 miles further on in Henfield at the Plough Inn.

After our lunch stop we will retrace our route via Church Street, Upper station Road and Station Road back to the old Railway and south towards Bramber.

After About 2 Mls and just after crossing the Adur the track abruptly leaves the railway on the right and up short piece of farm track to Wyckham Lane, this is a bit rough and pothole strewn for the next mile until we get onto Kings Barn Lane then on into Bramber via King Stone Avenue and Castle lane.

We could break at the Castle for a rest.

To avoid crossing the A283 we then follow a track which runs SE parallel to the A283 and under the road bridge over the Adur cutting back in the opposite direction.

We then briefly join the S Downs way and over the Adur ourselves and down the last section of the Downslink into Shoreham. As the last bit of the footpath is closed we will finish the ride at Shoreham Station.

Length: 21 miles.
Duration: about 5-6 hours including lunch.
Starting at Christ’s Hospital Station 10:45
Getting there:
Suggested that we get the 9.27 Victoria train and changing at Gatwick Airport (14 minute wait) onto the Southern service from London Victoria to Portsmouth Harbour.

If you miss the above then get the 9.42 Bedford train changing at Three Bridges onto the same Southern service from London Victoria to Portsmouth Harbour (only a 7 minute gap) . But do look out for us getting off the train from a different carriage.

If you miss both of the above you would be 50 mins behind as the next train arrives CH at 11:30. We could be catchable by Stans with some dedicated pedalling.

Single Ticket to Christ’s Hospital

Getting back: From the ride finish at Falconers Court there is the option of a train from Shoreham station or we can follow the NCR2 via Southwick then across the locks and follow the seafront to Hove and Brighton


Please email me or phone/text me if you are coming.

The Last Ride. Tessa’s Report

14 June 2018

Sunday 10 June 2018: ‘Five go down (and a little bit up) the Downslink’

Five of us gathered at Christ’s Hospital station. Angela D, Graham, Tessa and new to Clarion, Wendy T on her electric bike had caught the 9.27 train from Brighton.

Prudence caught the later train and was relieved to find us in the car park, thinking she may have missed us.

A delightfully rural station only a stone’s throw from the Downslink, we set off on a narrow grass-fringed track that soon widened . The route alternated between being tree-lined in dappled sunlight and rolling meadows and fields.

We had a loo stop at Southwater Country Park but were not tempted by the café, preferring to wait for Stan’s Bike Shack further along the route.. Families were out in force, many canoeing on the small lake.

Cycling past a sign saying Copsale, probably once a station but now there was no sign of it, Wendy T and I had a telepathic thought: ‘ We were the Famous Five on an adventure’ Only Timmy the dog was missing but there were plenty of those around, mainly of the Cockapoodle, Labradoodle varieties.

We hit West Grinsted Station which had a train carriage and a platform so it became our first photo-opportunity.


Arriving past a badly parked train carriage


Graham and Tessa



We joined a road through the village of Partridge Green and suddenly there was Stan’s Bike Shed!

A delightful coffee stop not only for its food offerings but also for its bike friendly ambience. Free locks available to borrow, bike literature and a video screen to watch, and loads of lycra clad cyclists. Angela D said that every Clarion ride should have a coffee stop like Stan’s!


Wendy T, Angela D, Tessa and Prudence enjoying drinks and Cake !

We arrived at Henfield which was having a garden Open Day. On the way to the Plough, our lunch stop, we heard music coming from a garden close to a church. Prudence and Wendy stopped to explore and on joining us at the Plough reported that it was a lovely garden with craft stalls as well.

Everyone’s lunch was delicious and beautifully presented. Angela D told the waitress on the way out that is was the best Clarion lunch of all time!

We retraced our steps to the Downslink pausing to check out the garden. The music was over, the crafts mediocre but the garden was beautiful.


On to Shoreham, stopping to look at St Botolph’s Church. Arriving in Shoreham Wendy stopped for tea and cake, the rest of us dashed for a train which we missed. Rather than wait 30 minutes, we decided to cycle home, it was a lovely evening with no strong headwind.

We dispersed at Hove Lagoon after thanking Graham for planning a delightful day in the saddle.




14 June 2018

Dear All

I’m standing in for Ian this time around.

Congratulations to Graham, whose first ride as leader sounds as if it was much appreciated by those who took part. See Tessa’s report below.

And now some bad news – commiserations to Sue (Priest) who has broken her wrist ad is therefore not able to ride for some time. Sue was to have led the next ride, but clearly she won’t now be able to. So, unless someone else can offer something at this late stage, there will be no ride on 24 June.

Don’t forget the Cycle Challenge (details below). I have some sympathy with Jim’s decision not to ride repeatedly around a cycle track – I hope the country ride goes well. The advantage of the round the world ride for me is that you can give up whenever you’re ready, and still know that you’ve contributed just a bit to something much bigger.

Don’t forget that the main point of all the rides on 1st July is to raise money for good causes, whether it’s Brighton Housing Trust or, as Angela (D) has pointed out, Friends of the Earth. So everyone who is taking part in one of the rides on 1st July needs sponsors!

Enjoy the rest of the newsletter – and don’t miss the next instalment of Ian’s Clarion history at the end.



Cycling round the world!

The circumference of the world is 40,075 km. That’s equivalent to 69,215 laps of the Preston Park velodrome.

So what?

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) has issued a challenge to the cyclists of Brighton and Hove (and anywhere else). Let’s all cycle around the track until we’ve jointly done the equivalent of once round the world!


You guessed it – fund-raising, but it is for a very good cause. BHT runs First Base, a drop-in centre for rough sleepers and others with housing problems. It provides help with healthcare, training, learning and accommodation. Everyone is welcome and there are early morning sessions for rough sleepers. Last year 508 people were helped and 220 cases of homelessness prevented.

Guess what!

First Base needs funds. So, if you’d like to help, get yourself some sponsors and bring your bike to Preston Park on Sunday 1st July (not a Clarion ride day). In fact, how about a Clarion get-together at 12 noon?

The boring bit!

Click here to register (£15 fee) and print a sponsorship form or create a JustGiving page.

Other rides and charities are available

If riding round the World isn’t exciting enough for you, BHT is also raising money with two country rides on the same day (30 or 58 miles). Click here for details. Angela (D) has pointed out that you can also use these rides to raise money for Friends of the Earth as well.



Clarion History

14 June 2018

3.  The Clarion is launched

I finished the last episode with Blatchford in 1891about to leave Hulton’s Sunday Chronicle on which he had a well-paid job as a leader writier. By this time he was well established as a result of his Nunquam articles. The summer of 1891 had seen him adopted as an ‘independent Labour’ parliamentary candidate for the newly-formed Bradford Labour Union. To what extent this cost him his job on the Chronicle or at least contributed to his leaving the paper is still not clear.

But it may be useful here to sketch in something of the general background. Labour, along with Land and Capital was supposed to be one of the ‘factors of production’ – but one that unlike the others was at very least under-represented if not totally unrepresented in parliament. The idea of some kind of independent Labour representation had been around for decades – since Chartist times in the mid-century – but so far the attempts had been deflected into the Liberal Party. Since 1874 there had been a growing number of Liberal-Labour (or ‘Lib-Lab’) MPs who were usually prominent trade union leaders. Mining areas were particularly good as Lib-Lab constituencies since they were populated overwhelmingly by those who if not miners themselves were closely associated with mining and where the influence of the mining unions was strong.

As mentioned last time,organised socialism was represented by the Social-Democratic Federation (SDF) since the 1880s but had been unable to make a breakthrough electorally in the House of Commons. The late 1880s had seen an upsurge in trade unionism especially among (supposedly) unskilled workers. The most famous strikes were the ‘Matchgirls’ strike at Bryant and Mays in 1888 and the great London Dock Strike of 1889 but there were also conflicts in the northern manufacturing areas. In Bradford it was the long-running strike at Manningham Mills that finally broke the back of local Lib-Labism. The Liberal Party seemed to be totally on the side of the employers. Hence the idea that what was now needed was definitely ‘independent’ (that’s to say independent of the Liberal Party) representation. Hence the Bradford Labour Union – which was quickly followed by other local bodies of a similar nature

It was in this context that Blatchford left the Chronicle worked for a couple of months on Joseph Burgess’s Workman’s Times for which he wrote a series of articles on socialism. One of these asked ‘How is practical socialism to be brought about? Partly by education , partly by Parliamentary action. We want real democracy in place of the sham Party-ridden democracy now existent.’

And so – with the emphasis firmly on ‘education’ – Blatchford, together with his fellow journalists A M Thompson (aka ‘Dangle’) Edward Fay (‘the Bounder’) and a few others launched the Clarion in December 1891

Next time The Earliest Days of the Clarion