The Next Ride: Sunday 9 December 2018 – Polegate Circular via Herstmonceux

27 November 2018

Please note: in the event of a strong North wind, the ride may be reversed, riding first up the sheltered Cuckoo Trail and back across the exposed Pevensey Levels

Terrain: This ride is flat for most of the route with a few manageable hills just before and after lunch. Length of ride – we guess it is about 16 miles.

Route: From Polegate station we cycle through the car park , and out for a short ride along the cycle track on the pavement of the B2247 to the pedestrian crossing after Levetts Lane. Up this lane to the bridge over the bypass and along quiet roads to Rickney. Then north across the Pevensey Levels to the village of Herstmonceux where we will join the footpath by the main road for a few yards to cross over to Lime Cross Nursery. There we will have an early lunch.

After lunch we return to the footpath briefly then join the busy A271 for a short distance through Herstmonceux village, and turn right signposted Cowbeech. Passing Stunts Green we reach the top of Cowbeech Hill at Beech Cross ( a long but gradual climb). We turn left at this point onto a slightly busier but wide road , which we follow down to a T junction, taking in a couple of minor upward slopes on the way.

Here we turn off to the right along a quiet road for a mile or two, slip over the verge on the left into a disused road and over another busy road into Station Road. Another 100 yards or so and just before a bridge we diverge off the tarmac down a track to turn left onto the Cuckoo Trail. This will take us south to the delights of tea at the Old Loom Tea Rooms.

After tea just a mile to the end of the Cuckoo Trail and into Polegate to catch a train home.

Train from Brighton leaving at 10.12 arriving Polegate 10.44 Return trains from Polegate 50 minutes past the hour.

Please let us know if you are coming and want to have lunch so we can book appropriate numbers. The cafe have asked that we give them good warning if we are booking as a group. You can email me , Sikka, at or text me on 07787 402229. Thanks.

Sikka and Tessa

The Last Ride: Sunday 25 November – Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe Tye

27 November 2018

Nick, Graham, Wendy, Jim, Prudence, David, Chris, Anne, Mick, Angela D

Warning. This report contains a word that some Clarionistas may find offensive.

Various Clarionistas assembled in front of Palace Pier and joyfully welcomed our bi-partisan leadership duo, Nick and Graham. The first part of the ride was nice and flat but the volley ball courts and zip wire emplacements failed to offer any shelter from the chill north easterly wind. Sensibly our gallant leaderly pair had decided on an early stop for warming coffee, but then it was decided with much about turning and circumlocutions along the sea walls that perhaps it was too early. So off we set again, until a suitable coffee stop with loos was found, although even then it wasn’t entirely clear if we were stopping, standing, dawdling or just milling around getting in everybody else’s way. Still this is the right of Clarionistas everywhere and no amount of bustling walkers or harried buggy-pushing parents would do us out of our time honoured rituals of indecision.

November 25, 2018: Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe & Southease

A little while later came – and here I ask impressionable and sensitive readers to turn away now – our first up****. This was but a paltry slope compared to what, unannounced, was to follow, so we unsuspectingly followed one, both or neither (my memory is vague here) of our gallant leaders up the cliff side.

Reaching the top of the cliff there proved to be an energy defying, soul-sapping and possibly for the weaker amongst us, life threatening series of hills. As you know, one aims for accuracy and precision in these reports and it is for this reason I have had to break our customary taboo against this iniquitous word, which I know sends shudders of fear, terror and loathing through all stout-hearted Clarionistas; but it was as I tell it; in future reports I do so hope that this word will be again thoroughly retired from lack of necessity and not have to ever again be introduced into Clarionista parlance.

November 25, 2018: Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe & Southease

On we laboriously pedalled, not quite in the tight formation of an elegant peloton but rather more as a long line of stragglers, dawdlers and loiterers until it became obvious that we had perhaps managed to find our group in several different places without a coherent narrative of progress. One leader decided to contact the other leader by means of a brilliant outdoor communicative device; I think it was something about two tin cans with a long string between them. Well unfortunately maybe the string wasn’t taut enough, or the cans were the wrong sort of metal, but the device didn’t seem to work. Nothing daunted a few Clarionistas went in one direction and others in another, and we all went round in circles until we met up in the middle, which in this case turned out to be Telscombe Tye and a bemused woman was prevailed upon to take a photograph of the entire troop together.

November 25, 2018: Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe & Southease

Sadly, more hills were to follow but somehow or other even the wheeziest and droopiest among us found our way into Lewes, and gaining a little more alacrity in our pace, managed to make our way to The Snowdrop Inn.

November 25, 2018: Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe & Southease

Indecision, vacillation and uncertainty are a core part of the Clarion experience, and, once in the pub, we were not deprived of partaking in these excellent amusements. We were at this table; no, we were at the one opposite. We had a table reserved, but it was not the table that was reserved for us, but an alternative table that was reserved upstairs, or as they say in certain superstitious incantations ‘in another place’ that most of the group were unable to find. Once some sort of table was satisfactorily colonised people did insist on changing places, a stray member had to be rounded up and returned to the herd, lost gloves had to be identified, all the food had to be photographed and strawberry beer had to be replaced by Sussex cider.

November 25, 2018: Snowdrop, Lewes

Some rather wild talk was heard over lunch, particularly after several further refreshing glasses of the pink beverage, about a return trip to Brighton in the dark via Black Cap and the South Downs, and indeed it is believed that some members leapt on their bicycles to return home at the pedal. One of that group returned later, like the last little boy in The Pied Piper, to recount sorrowfully how the cyclists she had been accompanying had been swallowed up by the black mountain but that she had been left behind to tell the tale. It is to be hoped fervently that at some point the wanderers are returned once again to the bosom of the Clarion fold.

November 25, 2018: Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe & Southease

This confirmed a general decision that the train might be the best means of finding our warm beds in Brighton and Hove, though even this produced confusion as the writer of this piece was heard to go off muttering about how she had to get to Five Dials, or Seven Ways, or Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Many thanks to Graham and Nick for devising and leading this excellent trip and the £5 I found on the Undercliff walk has been given to Amnesty.

Angela Devas

25 November 2018


27 November 2018

Dear All

Thanks to Sikka and Tessa who have taken on our last ride of the year on 9 December (details below).

Along with her report of Sunday’s ride Angela (D) has sent me this message:

Wendy and I will be leading a post Christmas,  Twelfth Night ride of the Three Kings, or this being Brighton, the Three Queens aka the Three Wise women’ on Sunday 06 January 2019.

This short ride will involve a long stop at a suitable place for a convivial luncheon and a short pedal back home.

Sounds to me like a nice idea. I’ve asked for details for the next newsletter and added it to the ‘Future Rides’.

Anyone want to take on either of the other January rides 13 or 27?

I’m still hoping to be able to do the New Year ride. I have an appointment about my hip and knee X rays in early December so much will depend on what my options are. But in any case I’ll be there even if like in 2016 after I broke my ankle I have to come in the car rather than on the bike.

National Clarion Subs.

Normally, Clarion subs for the year include two elements, the national fee and a local one.  We have suspended our local sub for the last few years and did so for 2019 at the last AGM.   So the total we need to pay is £12.  This covers not only national membership but also third-party insurance without which no-one should risk going out on a bike.  At £1 a month this is a real bargain.

In recent years this has been done via a PayPal account. We have been having problems with this account.  We have also realised that Paypal charges us fees.  For these reasons, we have decided this year to collect subscriptions using the old fashioned method, using our equally old fashioned Co-op bank account.

Jim has kindly volunteered to act as treasurer while Julian is recovering, so if you would like to join or renew your membership please do one of the following, before the end of the year:

Send or give to Jim a cheque or cash (bank details etc can be found in the email newsletter)

In due course, Jim will pass on the subscriptions received to the National Clarion and you will receive a membership card, as usual.

Christmas Lunch
– at the Hummingbird Restaurant at Shoreham Airport on Friday 14th December, 12.30 for 1pm.

Don’t forget to let Angela (C) know your menu choices by 1
Just to remind you, the main course choices were roast turkey, sea bass or baked leek and Gruyère tart. while the pudding choices were Christmas pud, Belgian choc tart or cheese.


Clarion History 14: The General Election of 1895

27 November 2018

By 1895 there were two main national papers that identified with the Independent Labour Party (ILP) founded with considerable help from the Clarion in 1893. But – as mentioned in earlier episodes of this series – Keir Hardie the president of the new party had begun his own paper the following year – 1894. Although the Labour Leader wasn’t actually taken over by the ILP until the 20th century it nevertheless, because of Hardie’s prominence, tended to be regarded as the party’s official organ from the start.

It’s fair to say that Hardie and Blatchford didn’t get on and that they had very different perceptions of what the priorities should be for socialists. Hardie, already an MP wanted to advance the cause through conventional electoral politics. Blatchford wasn’t against doing that but thought it was a low priority which could be left more or less to look after itself. What was crucial was ‘making socialists.’ The phenomenal success of Merrie England which,again, I explained in an earlier episode, seemed to support this sense of priorities.

And, again, as we have already seen, the Clarion notion of ‘real democracy’ went way beyond anything Hardie and the ILP were proposing. And there was criticism from ILPers before the general election which took place in the summer, of the Clarion Cycling Club holding its ‘Meet’ at Easter -at the same time as the annual conference of the ILP. On the Clarion side Blatchford and Co insisted that democracy began at home. They waged a campaign – quite widely supported in the ILP – to drop Hardie’s title of ‘president’ and were successful in 1896 when it was changed to ‘chairman’. Not that it made too much difference to what the Clarion regarded as Hardie’s domination of the new party.

But before continuing with the tale of the election from the ILP/Clarion standpoint this is one of those occasions when to get a sense of what was really at stake we need to adopted a wider and longer-term perspective. At the moment the media is full of tales of splits in the Conservative and -to a lesser extent for the moment – the Labour parties. But if we could be joined by a well-informed observer of the political scene from 1890s or 1900s s/he would be likely to say ‘Splits! You ain’t seen nothing yet!’

The ace splitter was Joseph Chamberlain who managed the remarkable feat of splitting first the Liberal Party over Home Rule for Ireland and then, in the early twentieth century, the Conservative Party over Tariff Reform. In 1895 he was the Leader of the Liberal Unionists– i.e. the Libs who objected to Home Rule – and in alliance with the Conservatives. Gladstone had retired the previous year -after being PM on four different occasions, still a record today – and the Tory/Lib Unionist coalition was successful at the general election.

This would have far-reaching results. Chamberlain became the minister for the colonies and was largely responsible for the pretty disastrous Boer war 1899-1902 which among other things saddled Britain with the guilt of inventing the concentration camp.

But back to the 1895 election. Like all new movements and revivals hopes were high among Clarion readers and ILPers generally as the election approached. As usual on such occasions the heightened enthusiasm of a significant minority tended to obscure the fact that there were even more folk on the electoral register who were not carried away by the prospect of the new ILP.

The ILP fielded 28 candidates hoping to gain a small parliamentary foothold. But none were elected. And Keir Hardie lost his seat too. From his point of view the fact that no one else from the ILP succeeded did have the advantage of meaning that – given how important parliamentary representation is even to many who say they don’t believe in it – there was no real rival for leader of the party, though Blatchford remained as a sort of unofficial leader of the internal opposition.

In the four or five years that followed Hardie settled down to pursuing his objective of the ‘Labour alliance’ – which meant allying with trade unions or at least some of them; the miners for example were quite content to elect Lib-Labs until after the 1906 election which gave Labour its foothold in the Commons. The unions, still mainly Liberal in politics, were relatively speaking well off. The ILP was close to broke. It’s best bet, Hardie realised, was to tap the resources of as many of the unions as possible. The Labour Alliance strategy would succeed in 1900 when the Labour Representation Committee – already known unofficially as the Labour Party – was formed.

There was some disappointment among the readers and staff of the Clarion in August 1895 but winning elections was not their main thing. After 1895 they would turn their attention to a number of projects which had in common a belief in the virtues of direct democracy.


Next Time: ‘Socialist Unity’ and the Clarion Referendum

The Next Ride: Sunday 25 November 2018 – Palace Pier to Lewes via Telscombe and Southease

16 November 2018

Please remember that sunset is at 16:02 so make sure that you have working cycle lights.

Starting at the Palace Pier at 10 am we take the undercliff to Saltdean and a cafe stop either at Rottingdean or Saltdean.

Then we follow the road up towards Telscombe from Telscombe Cliffs with a short section of Bridleway to the top of Gorham’s Lane and the run down to Southease.

At Southease we will either go down to the river and along part of the Egrets way to Lewes although part of this is still technically a footpath or along the C7 into Lewes, depends on the ride recce.

Lunch will be at the end of the ride in Lewes, probably at the Snowdrop Inn.

Post Lunch members can either take the train back to Brighton or cycle (7 miles)

Length: 14 Miles approx
Duration: about 4 hours to Lunch.
Start time at Palace Pier 10am

Nick and Graham

The Last Ride: Sunday 11 November

16 November 2018

Hassocks loop via Hurstpierpoint, Washbrooks Farm, Muddleswood, Twineham, Goddards Green

The 3 of us paused for a group selfie outside Hassocks Station, wondering if our fellow Clarionisters had been deterred by the showery weather forecast, which proved to be a fine example of fake news, perhaps because we were north of the downs.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

Graham led Nick and me off towards Hurstpierpoint, where a small crowd had gathered at the crossroads outside the church to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. We paused to observe the 2 minutes silence and hear the traditional bugle rendition of The Last Post before continuing on to Washbrooks Farm for our coffee stop. We were rather impressed by the magnificent pumpkins on display, but completely blown away by the silver sparkly toilet seats, unfairly only available in the women’s toilets.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

Blue skies and wispy clouds contrasted with the golden autumn foliage and leaf fall as we continued along the B2117 and on to the quieter Shaves Wood Lane, then north towards Twineham. A traffic-free lane led us along the final stretch to our lunch stop at The Sportsman Pub. We were impressed with the quality of our food choices. Graham’s Nut Roast was served with beautifully cooked veg, my chips were served with a complementary side order of Cumberland sauce but Nick surprised us all by going crazy with an order of sweet potato chips, which came with a complementary side of braised carrots and parsnips. In honour of Julian, we perused the extensive dessert menu before returning to our cluster of bikes and heading off on the last leg of our journey.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

More quiet roads and country lanes took us past Hurstpierpoint College on our return to Hassocks Station, where we waited about 2 minutes for the next train, which was a direct service to Brighton.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

Thanks a lot Graham for leading us on this enjoyable ride, which fortuitously avoided the blustery showers forecasted for Brighton.



16 November 2018

Dear All

Nick tells me that he will be ‘investigating the Pier to Lewes ride detailed on the attached with Graham this Sunday’ So I think we should assume that the ‘Next Ride’ is ‘on’ unless we hear differently from Nick.

Assuming that goes ahead as planned all we need now to complete the year is an offer for 9 December.

Lots of interesting ideas from the Mitre meeting. When is the 2019 AGM? It’s not due till March – which gives us the chance of taking a position on any national issues that are going to be debated. I’ve always left it till nearer the time when everyone knows what they are doing and we can choose a date which suits if not everybody then the majority of those intending to attend.

Mitre Meeting Wednesday 7th November 2018 Wendy’s Notes

Present:  Graham, Nick, Wendy, Sean
These are not minutes – just notes so others can share the gist of the Clarion-related conversations.  Other conversations were available.

Possible Winter rides

Some discussion about offering a London ride, and possibly inviting London Clarion. Will discuss again when Jim’s around, and anyone else who knows London well, e.g. Prudence. Not enough people here to find out who’s got ideas in mind for the next few months. Agreed starting around 10am makes sense if we are to cycle around 15 miles with a coffee and lunch stop, returning around 4pm during the darker, colder winter months. If anyone has an idea for a ride, perhaps a ‘pop up’ ride could be organised to recce it.

Ride Schedule for 2019

Graham and Ian have been tinkering around with suggested ride dates for 2019 in an attempt to miss most of the disruptions caused by local events and scheduled railway engineering works. Graham has generated a rather impressive spreadsheet showing 3 possible configurations and will discuss further with Ian.

Sunday 6th January 2019

… was suggested as a possible date for a Post Christmas Lunch for everyone, especially working people and others who were unable to make the official Christmas lunch on 14th December.

AGM 2019 When is this?

Google Group

All present expressed satisfaction with use of the Google group, although others have grumbles, which Jim has kindly made suggestions to alleviate.

New Members

Graham knows of someone with a hand-build recumbent bicycle who would like to join.  Not sure how he will manage with trains, off road routes etc.


Dates for Next Year

After my suggestions in the last newsletter, Graham produced a couple of alternative options which were discussed at the Mitre meeting last Wednesday. It’s always been a bit of a problem avoiding dodgy dates and is even more so this time because there are still so many weekend rail closures to come. But unless anyone spots anything problematic about the following here are the dates for 2019

13, 27 January; 10, 24 February; 10, 24 March; 7, 28 April; 12, 26 May, 9, 23  June; 7, 21, 28 July;  18 August; 1, 15, 29 September; 13, 27 October; 10; 24 November; 8 December

Christmas Lunch – at the Hummingbird Restaurant at Shoreham Airport on Friday 14th December, 12.30 for 1pm.

Don’t forget to let Angela know your menu choices by 1 December

Just to remind you, the main course choices were roast turkey, sea bass or baked leek and Gruyère tart. while the pudding choices were Christmas pud, Belgian choc tart or cheese.


Clarion History 13: The First Easter Meet

16 November 2018

I included a number of extracts from the Clarion about the first Easter Meet at Ashbourne (near Dovedale) in the series I did a long time ago now but which still can be found via the blog if you follow the link to the old website.

What follows is just a small selection. First, here is ‘Swiftsure’ who presided over the weekly cycling column at that time – from the issue of 20 April 1895

Had there been more consultation beforehand between the various clubs interested, I feel sure the conference would have been more satisfactory.

But, however, a start has been made, and the formation of a National Clarion Cycling Club is a fact which, I believe will have far-reaching influence.

* * *

On behalf of the Birmingham Club, the “O’ Groomie O” gave a most interesting report of what their club has done since its formation, by the distribution of literature, and various other methods of scouting. And I must say that if every Clarion Club now formed were to do as much as this next season the cause of “Socialism” would be advanced in the country villages in a manner which is greatly needed

* * *

Before I leave the subject of the Ashbourne “meet” I should just like to say that the thanks of nearly everyone who went – and I believe they numbered nearly 200 – are due to Captain Atkinson of the Birmingham C.C.C for the indefatigable manner in which he looked after the visitors.

We all know that a Socialist who only does his duty requires and asks for no thanks, but all the same a true word of appreciation makes a man feel that his efforts are not thrown away.

There were several Sheffield cyclists at the “meet” and they expressed a wish for a “Clarion” C,C to be formed in Sheffield. Mr Jas. Ashurst, 29 Baker Street, Attercliffe, has offered to act as organiser in the first instance. Will all who are interested in the formation of such a club for Sheffield please communicate with him.

In the same issue A M Thompson (aka Dangle) was rather more fulsome.

No healthier or brighter force exists in all the movement than the ardent legion of young and lusty Scouts and Cyclists with whom we so pleasantly forgathered in the restful vale of the Dove. Their fervour, their intelligence, their readiness and resourceful of with (sic), their broad sympathy, and, above all, their kindly good humour, brought some of us who had presumed to think our services needful to were not wanted at all – except perhaps – as their disciples

* * * *

These men will serve. They formed the National Clarion Cycling Club at Ashbourne which is destined to make history.

Rather a lot of ‘men’ – but fortunately it didn’t stay that way for very long. Finally, for this edition, here is an account that throws light on how ‘Boots and Spurs’ – which came originally from one of Blatchford’s army tales – was first used in the cycling club. I’m not sure who the author was but it purports to tell the tale of the arrival at Ashbourne.

First we got oiled and blown up at Timberlake’s Repository.

“A great gent like you,” says Timberlake, when he saw my non-perisher tyres, “should have a better machine than this one.”
” A great gent like me,” I reply, ” Why, what sort of gent am I?” and Timberlake looked three ways for daylight and also scraped himself. “Well, ” he said, at last, with a critical air, “you look like a gent who could do with his portion.”

“You’ve guessed it at once,” said Whiffly and so we bestrid our wayward steeds, an after a brief halt at the “Buck in the Park” went in for records.

We got there, and, under the circumstances, we claim this as the greatest of cycling records. Cycling papers please copy.
Halfway is a village called Brailsford, with a contription. Ha! Ha! I need say no more.

It was a mile or two after this that Whifflly riding down a long steep hill with that sublime confidence which marketh the new beginner, lost control of his machine. Talk about Gilpin’s ride, it was nothing compared to Whiffly’s. He disappeared in a cloud of dust, out of which on the right-hand side a man and bicycle presentely turned double somersaults on the grass bank. Talk about De Quincey’s “Vision of Sudden Death”. In those cases where you are suddenly face to face with grim death, it is wonderful how coolly you philosophise.

“If Whiffly had fifty necks, ” I said to myself as he careered past, ” he’ll break every one of ’em this time.”

Instead of which, he was, beyond a few bruises, practically uninjured. It is unsafe to make predictions concerning him, he is such an unreliable person,

When I say practically uninjured I mean that the new knickerbockers were rent in twain. But we borrowed some string from a village blacksmith and tied ’em up behind a hedge. After which we smoked pipes on the grassy verge, and rode into Ashbourne, where we were welcomed by a knot of young fellows on the bridge with a cry of “Boots” to which we gave the Clarion countersign “Spurs –  and plenty of ’em.”


Next Time – The General Election of 1895