The Next Ride: Sunday 30 September 2018 – Bosham – Bosham/Itchenor Ferry – Witterings – Chichester

19 September 2018

This area, known at the Manhood Peninsula, is delightfully picturesque, with country lanes interspersed with watery views and cycle paths. The exact route is a surprise (ie yet to be finalised) but will involve some or all of the following, in no particular order! 

Bosham, Itchenor/Bosham ferry, Coffee, Witterings, country lanes, pub lunch, some of the Salterns Way, Chichester Marina, Chichester Canal, tea.
Meet: at Brighton Station 09.15 to catch the 09.30 train to Bosham, arriving 10.35 (buy return train ticket to Bosham)
Return: from Chichester Station, trains 16.22, 16.53, 17.22
Terrain:  Flat, country lanes, some off-road cycle paths
Bring:  £3 cash for ferry (£2.50 per person +50p per bike)
Length:  About 20 miles


The Last Ride: Sunday 16 September 2018 – Redhill – Horley via Tandridge

19 September 2018

Jim, Wendy, Sikka, Graham and Sean (with his wonderful folding Brompton bike) met at the duly appointed time at Brighton Station, eagerly anticipating the delights ahead. Nick should have joined us but came up with the old slow puncture excuse! We would just have to manage without the Clarion official chip photographer.

Meticulous planning had been undertaken noting changes to train times, and Jim had spent hours at Brighton station checking that the London to Brighton bike ride on that day posed no problems. It was all OK: Southern had not even heard of it. (Well until Jim told them).

We approached the barrier but alas the Fat controller had woken up and slapped a bike ban on the line. Would the Clarionettes take this lying down? No! Flashing his Dr Who style travel pass (Which no doubt displayed the words “They shall pass you know it makes sense”). Jim remonstrated with the station manager for several minutes explaining that the Clarionettes were a special case and unlike any cycle club he had ever seen before or would again. In any event there were also only five of us and we were the only cyclists on the station, the hordes that were banned were nowhere to be seen. It worked – we were through and on our way to Three Bridges.


L-R Sean, Wendy, Sikka, Jim

Wot No Trains
Arriving at Three Bridges we expected to catch a train to Redhill in 15 minutes, having played how may bikes can you get in a lift and got to the correct platform there were no trains. Jim blamed it on a senior moment during planning and we had an enforced cafe stop. On the move again 45 mins later the driver promptly announced that his train would be terminated at Redhill due to signal problems further up the line “lucky there.”


At Holmethorpe Lagoons

Lakes Birds and Bike Chains
Finally half an hour late we started our journey via the delightful “Holmethorpe Lagoons Nature Reserve” where on a bridge between lakes we were able to observe Swans, Ducks, Cormorants, Geese and Grebes at least. Further on Sean caught a twig in his gears and his chain came off. For several minutes all of us including Sean were at a loss as to how to fix this on a Brompton until he remembered the trick to fold up the rear derailleur.

Honey for Tea
On again and further across Nutfield Marsh we discovered a lovely cottage selling local honey that Wendy, Sikka and Graham purchased.


We then passed Spynes Mere Nature reserve where according to Jim Shags were to be seen, except not today.


Then at Pendell we found an old tram fitted with an oriental tiled roof and a strange miniature smoke house.


Next on to Bletchingley where on a wooded off-road and uphill track Sean discovered the true off-road limits of the Brompton, taking a tumble. Sadly as he failed to take a selfie mid tumble and Sikka had no camera available the scene has passed into history unrecorded. Then we hit our major uphill of “Rabies Heath Road” to the usual complaints and past Raby’s Heath House. Well someone got their spelling wrong! Followed by a lovely descent via Tilburstow Hill Road where I at least hit 32mph and Hart Lane to the A22 crossing.

The parting of the A22
There was now only a mile or so to get to our lunch stop but we had to cross the A22. Overpass, underpass, no! We had to cross it. The road was only single carriageway but with a massive roar and cars speeding in both directions without any breaks. We thought this was the end, but Jim demonstrated his next super power by casually walking into the road with his arm up and lo the traffic stopped allowing the clarionettes to pass, then the roar continued.


Cash only
The sun was out now and finally we arrived at the delightful Griffin pub where our table was arranged in the Chapel resplendent with Middle Eastern carpets, paintings and cushions. It was at this point that Sikka and Wendy discovered that not only were credit cards not taken but that they had forgotten to bring any cash or rather had spent it all on coffee and Honey. Luckily Jim and Graham were able to help out and an excellent meal was had by all. Both full and empty plates can be viewed on Flickr. Plus for addicts pictures of chips!


The Road to Horley
Following lunch we made our way the final and uneventful nine miles to Horley on largely flat roads. At one point we turned into Hare Lane where Jim announced that he had grown up on Hare Lane, just not that one. Arriving in Horley we were skilfully led by Jim to the nearest cash machine so that the lunch debts could be repaid and Sikka and Wendy were once again honest women. It was then agreed that we should go on to Gatwick to have more choice of trains. Jim led us via many twists and turns and via Riverside Park to Gatwick Station.


Arrivals and departures
It was now time to play how many bikes can you get in a lift again. Wendy, Sikka and Sean went first and then Jim and I in the next door lift, but which floor to choose Arrivals or Departures, no mention of trains for either! We chose Arrivals knowing from experience that the station was on that floor. We got out and the others were nowhere to be seen. Their lift came down again and was empty. Jim then bravely re entered the lift system to find them and several minutes later they all emerged. Please note Departures is for planes not trains!

Then in the station more lifts to the extreme annoyance of a waiting horde with cases wanting to go the other way. Sean caught a Hove train and the rest of us a train to Brighton.

Thanks to Jim for another wonderful and as it turned out eventful ride.


PS: I see from the blurb for my original 2008 Three Bridges circular ride (repeated in 2011 without the dodgy bits) that Ardenrun, which we passed the entrance to on this ride, was

the country estate of ‘Babe’ Wolf Barnato, a famous and extremely rich 1920s socialite who was also a works Bentley driver and winner of many sportscar and Le Mans races. Ardenrun was razed to the ground overnight by fire, following a “magnificent party”



19 September 2018

Clarion Latest

16 September 2018

Dear All

I visited Julian recently and we spent a pleasant hour or so chatting.

Recovery from his stroke has been slowed by a couple of recent set-backs, but his spirits are still good and he is working hard at the various exercise regimes he has been given to help bring back his mobility.

He showed me the post card he received from the Clarion group in Bath which had pleased him greatly. He asked me to pass on his thanks to everyone involved.

One of the topics we talked about was driverless cars. We agreed that it is hard to believe that they will ever be able to deal with all the multi-various situations that human drivers can. They will probably be pretty good on motorways but what about on a narrow un-surfaced track when confronted by a herd of sheep, or another driverless car coming from the opposite direction?
If you follow this line of thought, you start to think that maybe we should see them as primarily motorway vehicles in which to travel long distances, while reading, snoozing or getting drunk – a bit like trains really. And if they could do that sort of work, do we still need HS2?

Turning to more immediate concerns, you will see that the “Future Rides” list is verging on empty at present. Ian will be back in the editor’s chair for the next issue, so, if you have any ideas for rides in October and beyond please let him have them (

No read on for a “bumper size” issue with reports on the most recent ride and the Bath weekend …


<The Bath weekend report can be found here>

Clarion History – 9 ‘Real Democracy’ and the Clarion

19 September 2018

The last episode was on the long side. So this time I’ll keep it fairly short. In episode 7 I explained about the rivalry and sometimes hostility between Blatchford and the Clarion on the one hand and Keir Hardie and the Labour Leader on the other. How sensitive all this was, right from the start, is Illustrated by what happened in June 1894. In the 9th June Clarion appeared an apparently casual remark by Blatchford. He had written, ‘I have always urged the people to watch their leaders – since they will have leaders – closely and call them shapely to account. ‘ This then triggered a whole series of articles on ‘Real Democracy’ which were widely construed as an attack on Hardie.

A rather convoluted debate then followed in which Blatchford tried – not altogether convincingly – to differentiate ‘guides’ – like himself or, presumably, Karl Marx – from ‘leaders.’ A ‘leader,’ he insisted, was a commander ‘whether a usurper or an elect of a democracy’ As regards the latter Blatchford declared himself ready, as he would do many time in the following years, in the words of Walt Whitman ‘to rise against the never-ending audacity of elected persons.’

What about himself as a ‘leader?’ Blatchford conceded that ‘I might have been a leader.’ He’d actually been elected into a position of leadership when the Manchester and Salford ILP was founded. He had ‘consented because I knew that if I refused the Party would not be formed at all,’ But as soon as the party ‘got a little vigour and growth’ he had left. He had done so for two reasons. Firstly, he had ‘suspected the existence of a spirit of “deference’ towards him. Secondly, he had realised that there was ‘outside the Party an injurious belief that the existence of the Party depended on my presence.’

He reiterated his objection to the notion that he was any sort of ‘leader’.

Like Edward Carpenter and William Morris, I am a counsellor and nothing more. I will have neither pay, nor office nor power from the people. I am no more a ‘leader’ than is a scientist who pleads for better sanitation.

Having disposed, to at least his own satisfaction, of the unmerited accusation of leadership as applied to himself and having carefully distinguished between the role of guide, or counsellor, which was legitimate, and that of leader or commander which was at best dodgy in the extreme. Blatchford went on to protest against the idea that Parliament or other elected bodies were there to govern.

These men should not be ‘masters,’ they should be delegates. In council let them give their advice and opinion honestly and earnestly, and let the advice be accepted or rejected as the majority deems fit . But in Parliament and in all executive positions their duty is not to command but to obey.

As we shall see in some of the later episodes – including the next one – this uncompromising view would be restated in one form or another many times in the years that followed.

Next Time The Clarion and John Lister

The Next Ride: Sunday 16 September 2018: Redhill-Horley via Tandridge

9 September 2018

Redhill – Nutfield Marsh – Bletchingley – Tandridge – Blindley Heath – Smallfield – Horley

This is a repeat (sort of) of a ride we did on 27 July 2014. If you want a flavour of it, do look at Suzanne’s amazing, record-breaking (well, it would be if there were any records to break) “acrostic” ride report here.

We’ll start off across Nutfield Marsh, with its associated lovely nature reserves, along NCN21, then continue south-eastwards, passing through Bletchingley and arriving at our lunch stop, the Griffin (which is in the process of changing its name to The Brickmakers, which was apparently its original name) in Tandridge Lane.

In the blurb back in 2014 I referred to “the ominous cow-infested swamps of Blindley Heath”, which was a reference to an earlier ride we did in September 2008, from which we were lucky to escape alive, though not unmuddied. Happily I can confirm that we will be skirting the Heath this time, not going through it. We return along Croydonbarn Lane to Smallfield, then Horley. If, as last time, there is a collective wish to continue to Gatwick through the lovely Riverside Garden Park, we can do that, and get the train from Gatwick.


Start at Redhill station down side (platform 3) exit at 11:00

Getting there: Take the 09:42 Bedford train from Brighton and change at Three Bridges.

Getting back: Trains from Horley are hourly, at 1 minute past the hour. Trains from Gatwick are more frequent.

Length: About 19 miles

Duration: About 5 hours

Terrain: Mostly quiet lanes and good quality Sustrans-standard cycle path (NCN21) May be a bit muddy for a brief stretch near Bletchingley.

Undulations: Not many.

Undue undulations: None.


Bath/Bristol Weekend: 1st-2nd September 2018

9 September 2018

Friday 31st August 2018

At Yak Yeti Yak

At Yak Yeti Yak: L-R David, Prudence, Graham, Wendy, Sikka, Tessa, Jim, Laura, Angela, Terri

Angela D, Wendy, Prudence, Graham, Tessa, Sikka, David and Terri met at Bath Youth Hostel and walked the truly scenic route down to town, across a field with lovely views of the undulating countryside, crossing the canal on the way to Yak Yeti Yak. Here we were joined by Jim (our leader) and his friend Laura, who lives in Bristol, and would be joining us for our rides over the next 2 days. Thanks to Graham’s impeccable organizational skills, collecting our orders in advance and drawing up a comprehensive spreadsheet, we were able to deduce which dishes belonged to which Clarionisters. Having enjoyed some amazing Nepalese dining, it was time to pay the bill and find a bus to take us back up Bathwick Hill to our digs. There was a measure of irony in a bunch of folk touting senior bus passes asking the driver to drop us at the Youth Hostel.

Bath and Bristol Weekend

Bath Youth Hostel

Saturday 1st September 2018: Bath to Bristol

We managed to be up, breakfasted and mounted on our bikes by 9am and headed in a downward direction (bearing in mind the author has no sense of compass points, but knows a hill when she encounters one). We cycled along the Kennet and Avon canal tow path and into Bath to meet up with Laura, ready to start our journey to Bristol. Terri was to spend the next couple of days exploring Bath on foot, and was planning a visit to the Jane Austen house.

SUstrans sign on Bath-Bristol pathOur group of 9 cyclists followed the River Avon, joining the Railway Path at Kelston. Photographic evidence was obtained by Jim, that the path was ‘level’ as inscribed on a metal information sculpture. As the day progressed, no counterclaims were noted. Is this a Clarion first? We halted every now and then to read the useful information boards, giving us some of the history of the Railway Path, which was constructed on the track bed of the former Midland Railway, which closed in the late 1960’s.

Just off the railway path, we were able to get a glimpse of Greenpark Station’s former glory, now hosting a streetmarket and Sainsbury’s car park.

Bitton railway station provided a welcome coffee stop, where some of us opted for seats in a railway carriage by the name of Margaret (named after the woman who first provided a voluntary catering service). At this point David, struggling to find the word ‘shorts’, came out with ‘short sleeved trousers’!

IMG_6329 (1)

At Bitton station

We posed for a group photo to send to Julian using a postcard app, which simply said what we were thinking – ‘wish you were here’. Jim commenced the ‘cat herding’ exercise of trying to get us all biked up and heading off in the same direction as him, and finally resorted to blowing his famous whistle. This coincided with a steam engine chugging backwards from the station into our line of sight. Or did the whistle blowing inadvertently signal the engine to move……?

IMG_6332 (2)

Graham and David

Off we cycled, along the nicely tarmacked, tree-lined track, pleasantly lacking in undulations, stopping for a closer look at Old Mangotsfield station with its amazing sculptures in the arched windows. It was sitting here waiting for a train that inspired Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey from Dad’s Army) to write the famous play ‘Ghost Train’. There were numerous references to the nearby Keynsham …. K E Y N …….

We encountered our first tunnel of the weekend shortly after, and Laura introduced us to the local custom of calling out ‘choo choo’ as we cycled through. It was dank, dark and chilly, with random drips of cold water, but we soon emerged into the welcoming sunshine and resumed our journey.

A brief tour of suburban Bristol led us to our lunch stop where several pints of Doom Bar were imbibed, along with a range of dishes suiting all dietary requirements. Unfortunately David’s sweet potato fries arrived simultaneously with his knickerbocker glory, but he stoically alternated between the one that was too hot and the one that was melting.


We returned to the River Avon via Hanham estate and continued along more picturesque paths until we reached our tea stop, The Old Lock and Weir pub, where unsurprisingly several of us opted for more beer. With a table right next to the river, we were lucky enough to get a good view of a heron walking across the weir, and Tessa sent a photo to Julian. It was here that David dramatically revealed that he colour co-ordinates his outfits to his bicycles and had mistakenly brought red gloves, instead of blue.

We meandered off towards Bristol Temple Meads, where Laura left us to go home, and Tessa and Sikka went to meet friends.   The remaining 6 of us took 3 trains back to Bath, due to bike restrictions. The first to arrive relaxed in the deck chairs near Bath Spa station, enjoying the sunshine, until we were finally reunited after a police incident delayed the other 2 trains.

Finally came the lowlight of the day – the climb back up to the dizzy heights of the YHA (at around 460 ft above sea level). On the way, all were happy to rest a while looking back at the lovely views along the way.

What a great day’s cycling, covering about 24 miles.

Sunday 1st September 2018: Bath Circular via Two Tunnels Greenway

A later start, leaving the hostel at 10am, after a hearty hostel breakfast. We said goodbye to Angela D at Bath Station, as she had commitments to get back for, and welcomed Laura, plus Phil, a friend of Sikka’s who lives in Bath.

Still 9 cyclists, albeit slightly different ones, we followed Jim along his chosen route to the Two Tunnels, again appreciating the picturesque, flat and tarmacked cycle paths next to the canals and rivers. Part of today’s route was formerly the Somerset and Dorset railway, which ran south-eastwards from Bath towards Bournemouth. The engineers among us were impressed by the range of bridges we encountered across the waterways. The rest of us were impressed that David was sporting his red Clarion shirt which matched his gloves, but as noted yesterday, there was a failure of colour coordination with his blue bike.

We were soon entering the first of the famous two tunnels, the Devonshire, which was an amazing experience – darker, colder and longer than some of us had imagined, and sparsely lit. We realised why we were advised to use our bike lights. This prepared us for the second and seriously long tunnel we next encountered, the Coombe Down tunnel. Although it was a warm day, most of us decided to put on a jumper, and switch on our bike lights to find our way through the darkness to follow.


It was a strange and unforgettable experience, taking around 10 minutes to cycle the mile long tunnel, passing a few cyclists coming from the other direction, as well as several pedestrians and dogs. After a few minutes of pretty much silent cycling, we could just detect a sound, which gradually got clearer and louder until we could identify it as string music. It seemed to be playing from alternate sides, and the volume increased and decreased as we passed each speaker, which was accompanied by some coloured ambient lighting as we progressed through the tunnel. The music and lighting subsided as gradually as it had emerged, and once again we experienced quietness and darkness, until daylight could be detected at the end of the tunnel. We tarried a while to read an information board about William Smith whose ‘ground breaking’ work listing the local rock layers in his Order of Strata earned him his reputation as the Father of English Geology. Some also enjoyed investigating the wind up and listen audio post.

Midford Castle

Midford Castle

More tranquil tree-lined track took us past Midford Castle, a folly nestled among some trees on the hillside, and on towards our lunch stop. With a significant number of noticeboards to stop at along this route, some folk were having difficulty dismounting and remounting their wheels, prompting David to mutter that he can only get his leg over twice an hour and he’d already had to do it 12 times before lunch! Someone suggested a bike with a gender fluid step through arrangement might help him get his leg over more easily and more often. Oh dear. The tone of conversation had plummeted. Fortunately, the Hope and Anchor pub was in sight. Popular with cyclists, but only those who also like to weight lift, as the bike racks were at the bottom of the stairs into the pub garden. We soon forgave this cruel back-twinging arrangement, because the food was delicious. After lunch, we said goodbye to Tessa, who was meeting friends at Wellow (see her addition to the report below) and Phil.

On leaving the pub we cycled through a short tunnel, or long bridge, before leaving the Two Tunnels route and joining a lane which took us to Tucking Mill Cottage, displaying a plaque telling us that William Smith had lived here. Close by, we noted Tucking Mill Reservoir, which has been designated for the use of disabled anglers only since 1981.

More idyllic cycle paths alongside the Kennet and Avon canal took us to the next spectacular viewpoint, which was the Dundas Aqueduct, carrying the Kennet and Avon canal over the River Avon.


Near Dundas Aqueduct

Soon after this, we could not resist the call of a tea stop at a canal boat, where we managed to find cakes, tea cakes and a range of teas to satisfy everyone. Graham was first to experience the misery of having filled up on tea, only to discover that there was no toilet, but he resourcefully secured instructions on how to access the nearby pub facilities. One by one, we experienced the same quandary and Graham patiently described the route to the required destination. Eventually a plan emerged to all cycle over to the loos before resuming our bike ride. However, when we gathered back on the tow path, Jim noted that we were one cyclist short, and none of us remembered David joining the toilet posse. We realized we had been somewhat pre-occupied with the toilet shenanigans and had not ensured that everyone had been made aware of the detour. Fortunately we were able to make contact with David, and arrange to meet further along the way.

Another great day’s cycling, covering around 15 miles.

Our dwindling number gathered at the bottom of Bathwick Hill, only to divide further. David, Prudence and Graham would be meeting up with Terri and staying a further night at the YHA, Sikka was to stay a further night in Bath with her friends Phil and partner, and Jim, Wendy and Laura were to return to Bath Spa station to negotiate a route home that avoided the bus replacement services.

There was a note of sadness as we went our separate ways, having spent a wonderful weekend together, enjoying the friendship of our fellow cyclists, as aspired to in our Clarion motto ‘Fellowship is Life’.

Thanks to Jim for sharing your discovery of these cycling experiences, especially the vast, haunting tunnel with its light and sound installation. It was an informative, fun and fabulously flat foray. Thanks also to Graham for arranging our Friday night feast and to David for providing some classic comedy moments.

From Tessa:

Since I left the group …

The tarmac track leading to Wellow changed into an acceptable gravel path leading to a cafe with coffee, delicious cake and ponies. My friends collected me and took me back to Frome where I perfected my front wheel removal and assembly technique as they were going to drive me back to Bath the following day in their small car.

We spent this morning relaxing at Bath Thermal spa, (rooftop warm thermal pool with jacuzzi in the sunshine plus steam rooms and sauna) the perfect end to our lovely cycling trip.

I caught the 13.35 GWR train and shared the 3 bike spaces with 5 other bikes! Guard and food trolley driver very relaxed about excess bikes. Just arrived home after changing to Southern at Fratton.’   Tessa x

Report contributed to by all and co-ordinated by Wendy, with special assistance from Graham and Prudence.


View from the top of the hill


5 September 2018

4 September 2018

Dear All

Sue and Ian are away on their hols, so I’m in the editor’s chair for this issue.

Which gives me a chance to tell you about a recent road safety study into “shared spaces”. These are places where the kerb separating the sidewalk from the road has been removed in the belief that walkers, cyclists and drivers can mingle without conflict. They have been the subject of robust discussion during rides in the past.

Brighton’s New Road is a local example which seems to work reasonably well, possibly because it is short and the ratio of pedestrians to motor vehicles is high.

Exhibition Road in London is very different, as I discovered recently when walking along it with my young grand-daughter. She had been well trained to stop at the kerb, but in Exhibition Road there is no kerb, as I realised when I saw her wandering into the path of a black cab!

The study I mentioned is called “Accidents by Design”. Its findings are based on an opinion survey which showed (amongst other things) that 63% of those questioned find their experience of shared spaces “poor”, while only 18% find it “good”. The study concludes by recommending an “immediate moratorium” on new shared spaces.




Suzanne makes history!

The Regency Square Area Society has just published a book to celebrate the bicentenary of Regency Square.  The book has been written by Clarionette, Suzanne and Gill Wales, both of whom live in the square.

The book will be launched by the deputy mayor at an open-air “do” (with gazebo) on 22 September at 11 am in the north garden of Regency Square- books on sale at the launch price of £10.00 (cover price £12.95)

Do come along and bring your friends to enjoy the music.  Any speeches will be very short.


News from Ian: The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men

I’m writing this the day after the last (21 August) newsletter, feeling for some reason the need to share with you some of my current woes. I realise that in that newsletter I inadvertently repeated the same episode of Clarion History that had appeared previously. Sorry, but I’ve been more than a bit distracted – as you will see. I’ll get back on track next time.

At the beginning of this year I was determined to get back into coming out on Clarion rides – in fact I selected 4 ones I’d done before over the years that weren’t too demanding and worked out a schedule based on me gradually getting myself up to doing at least one 20 mile ride in the weeks previous to the dates I’d chosen for my full return to Clarion activity then – unless someone else got in first – offering one of the planned rides. It wouldn’t matter if I fell a bit short of this and only managed one or two. With 30 odd members of the Brighton and Hove Clarion and only about 26 rides a year I didn’t have to emulate Jim -or Julian last year – to feel I’d done my bit.

But then the on-going left knee problem kicked in. So in March I had real trouble walking. I got physio help and did my exercises fastidiously and by the time we went to Venice for a short trip at the beginning of June I was walking normally and thought I was back on track for rides. But then I had a bit of a relapse knee-wise. I was just starting to get back to something like OK when another unkind stroke of fate intervened.

Our next door neighbours were away and we were feeding Billy, their cat. The day before the last newsletter went out I was stepping over the low wall between our path and theirs when I somehow caught my foot and went crashing down landing largely on my nose. There was so much blood it looked like a murder scene from a gruesome TV thriller. After 3 ½ hours at A &E – which I’m told is quite quick for these days – I had 6 stitches put in my nose together with some glue on the graze on my forehead. I’ll spare you the photo. Suffice it to say that at present I look like something out of an old Hammer horror film, perhaps with a title like The Curse of the Living Dead or The Creature from the Black Lagoon. So for the next couple of weeks – which will be some way in the past by the time you read this – I’m concentrating on just getting fit to go on holiday at the start of September. As for my ride ambitions – well, hope springs eternal!


Clarion History – 8

5 September 2018

The very beginning of the Clarion Cycling Club

Time, I thought, for a bit of relief from all this ‘political’ stuff – interesting and important though it is   Many years ago now I featured a longer version of what follows in the newsletter. You can still find it in the ‘History’ section of the old website via the current blog. But even if you read it when I used it before then the chances are you’ve long forgotten it. So here goes.

As you can read in Denis Pye’s Fellowship is Life it all started with a letter from Tom Groom – now commemorated in the Tom Groom trophy awarded every year at the Meet.

At the time Groom was Secretary of the Bond Street Labour Church in Birmingham. This was a recently-formed organisation – another part of the ‘socialist revival’ of the 1890s that helped float the Clarion. Its founder was an ex Unitarian (as in New Road, Brighton) minister – John Trevor. The Labour Church must not to be confused with the various brands of Christian Socialism. Basically the difference was that whereas Christian Socialists believed that Christianity was essentially socialist, the Labour Church started as it were from the other end seeing the Labour Movement itself as essentially religious. At the end of April 1894 the letter below appeared in the paper. It was followed by a very typical Clarion editorial comment

[We print the above with some misgiving. After recent allegations we are not wholly untroubled with a horrific suspicion that it may be an invention of this unconventional person. Our fears in him stick deep – especially since he has gone, or has not gone – on Tour. If our suspicions should prove correct – but enough – Ed. Clarion]

The ‘unconventional person’ was, you probably won’t be surprised to learn, that early Clarion stalwart Edward Fay – aka The Bounder

I’m convinced that the editorial comment was just one of Blatchford’s jokes – but perhaps not everyone was at the time. Or perhaps they saw in it the opportunity for another ‘go’ because the following week , 5 May 1894, there appeared in the Clarion as one of the contributions to ‘Local Notes’ a report on Birmingham, signed ‘Arturo’ which, after reporting the recent foundation of the Birmingham Democratic Club went on:-

The Clarion Cycling Club has come to stay and the article in last week’s
Issue in reference thereto was written by a prominent member. So the editorial misgiving that the Bounder may have done this thing may now give way to editorial calm, and the Great and Only one stands once more vindicated before men.

So, with that by way of introduction here – at last – is the letter in its entirety. It’s a bit long but you need to read the whole thing to get the full flavour.


‘We shall arrive!’ And in order that our coming may be speedy, we have started the Clarion Cycling Club, and at Easter we want to tour. We were seven; And we started from Birmingham to Wolverhampton by train on a dirty, dark, damp, dismal, dreary morning at 7.15.

We were only half awake and we were cold and hungry and the journey between Birmingham and Wolverhampton is one of the most mournful in England.

But – aha – we got to Wolverhampton, and had a little refreshment, and we got on our jiggers, and we woke up, and the sun came out, and the ‘little squeakers’ began to warble fit to crack their little throats, and we got hopeful, and cheerful, and oh! we were gay!

Then came we unto Bridgnorth and did there Bounderise. Bounderise – verb irregular (very) meaning to imbibe liquors of various degrees of strength – to assimilate resuscitating comestibles – to walk on one’s heels – and to generally spread oneself out. Afterwards we sampled Bridgnorth on the banks of the silvery Severn, and departing thence came to Arley and Bewdley both on the banks of the aforesaid silvery Severn.

On our way hitherwards we were led by ‘The Fiend’ into a veritable slough of despond, from which we emerged covered with much variety of landed estate causing a delay of many golden moments whilst we scraped ourselves.

Bewdley is a fine place, but – they haven’t been used to catering for cyclists there. We assisted in their education, however, and the next time they hear of our coming they will prepare themselves. For we shall arrive.

Next day we pushed on to Evesham, via Stourport, Ombersley, Worcester and Pershore. At Worcester we indulged in periphery swelling, consuming spring chickens (year doubtful), sampled the cathedral, and then in single file proceeded through the town. Suddenly the first man rang his bell and dismounted, the others following suit. The first man spoke not but pointed with trembling delight to where they sold the Clarion. There is hope for Worcester – they sell the Clarion there. We marched in, in order, and purchased our Clarions, and then as solemnly walked out, once more mounted our machines and proceeded on our way, as men who had glimpses of higher things.

In this mood we came to Evesham, as quaint and pretty a little town as existeth, and there once more we Bounderised. Good Lord! How we did eat! Before we commenced operations, our fair hostess besought us to stay for dinner the next day, telling us of the gracious things provided for the meal. She plied us with legends of cyclists who had fared at her hands, and had afterwards wandered to other taverns, but had come back to her hostelry once more as a haven of rest and home of plenty. Then provender appeared. For half an hour we raised not our eyes and spoke not a word, but steadily thought on the Bounder. The landlady became silent, the moody, then morbid, flinched, trembled, quivered, quavered, quock, broke line and finally succumbed. It was a glorious victory. ‘Are you,’ she asked with quivering lips, ‘are you gentlemen going to stay dinner tomorrow?’ We said we were not and once more she breathed freely.

We went to bed late that night – very late – but we arose early next morn, for the Army of Salvation paraded the town at 6 a m with a band, the big drum being in charge of the local blacksmith. May he be eternally spiflicated.

We were due at the Labour Church that night, so we started Brumwards, having spent as good a holiday as possible. Ah-h-h-h!!!! It was glorious!! Say no man lives till he has been on tour with the Clarion CC. Till then he but exists. After – !!!

We are going on another tour at Whitsun of which more anon.

By the way, we want a President. Bounder, what sayest thou? Wilt thou preside o’re us? The duties are light. Thy might name to grace our fixture list, and a visit of yourself to Brum to preside over a periphery–swelling function. Wilst thou come? Look you, Bounder, we are no mean admirers of yours. See here, what you have moved one of us to: –

When the bounding Bounder boundeth
Lightly o’er the Clarion page
Then the reader’s heart rejoineth
Filled with wisdom from the Sage

Fig for Nunquam and for Dangle
Fraud Mcginnis and Mont Blong
Thou alone, mighty Bounder
Art fit subject for our song

There are 98 more verses to this, which, if the Bounder will become our President we solemnly promise to destroy, If not – !!!



As you see our Clarion ride reports are not without precedent from the very earliest days. Not sure who our version of ‘The Fiend’ might be. Any nominations?




Next time ‘Real Democracy’ and the Clarion