The Next Ride: Sunday 10 March 2019 – Three Bridges Circular

27 February 2019

via Worth Church and Weir Wood Reservoir

Worth – East Grinstead – Weir Wood Reservoir – Kingscote – Turners Hill

This is a repeat of a ride we did in October 2015. We’ll ride along the Worth Way to East Grinstead, and make our way to, our lunch stop at the Old Dunnings Mill, the lovely Harveys pub and former watermill where we ate last time. We then proceed southwards to the reservoir, and spend a little time in or around the bird hide there. The reservoir was created in 1952 by damming the river Medway, which flows through this valley.

After leaving the reservoir we take a bridleway past Stone Farm Rocks, a striking series of sandstone crags which belongs to the British Mountaineering Council, and which, last time, were covered in ladybirds – a spectacle we were told only occurs once a year, so we’re presumably unlikely to see it in March. Later we cross the juvenile Medway, pass the Kingscote Estate Vineyard, and go under the Bluebell Line. We’ll then use a Permissive Bridleway to avoid a hill, passing some wonderful views and emerging into Vowels Lane near the top. After Turners Hill (which is not much of a hill) we will experience the downhill variety, rejoining the Worth Way and returning to Three Bridges Station.

The original ride included 30 minute stops at Worth Church in the morning and Tulleys Farm Tea Rooms in the afternoon, as well as 30 minutes at the reservoir. We can decide on the church on the day, but the other two stops are mandatory.

Anyone wanting to avoid the ups and downs can retrace the outward journey from the pub, and this also makes the ride about 3 miles shorter.

Terrain: Much of this ride is on quiet lanes through lovely woodlands, and the off-road sections are on good surfaces, though they may be bumpy in places. There is a short section of the B2028.

Length: 21 miles or less (see above)

Duration: about 6½ hours, depending on stops.

Undulations: some. Valleys have sides, unfortunately.

Start at: Three Bridges Station at 10:45

Getting there: London Bridge train from Brighton at 10:08, arriving Three Bridges at 10:42.

Getting home: Trains to Brighton at 21, 33, 54 mins past the hour.


The Last Ride: Sunday 24 February 2019 – Berwick Circular

27 February 2019

A wonderful Spring-like morning presented the perfect day for a Clarion ride – but was the fact that it was combining with the Marathon day going to mean problems ? No – although the station was full of barriers and indeed people, it did not that stop 11 Clarionistas finding spaces on the Berwick train . They were :- Angela D – Chris – David – Graham (our leader ) – John – Joyce – Marilyn – Nick – Prudence – Sikka – Wendy.

24 Feb Berwick circular

Once at Berwick we assembled for the traditional photos – thanks to a kind driver and David – (hope the photos are available. See Flickr). Then off for what turned out to be a wonderful ride. By that time the weather had settled into strong sunlight with an underlying breeze , which although slightly nippy , did not spoil the pleasure of a strong sun, cloudless sky, views of green meadows, and trees etched across that sky . All this whilst riding roads which seemed remarkably quiet . True they were “undulating” (seriously in some cases ) . But the long downhills made up for that . I noted with interest that there were amongst us four electric bike users. True that certainly made the long uphills more pleasant for me but those who relied on their muscles and trusty bikes managed wonderfully .

February 24, 2019: Berwick circular

Arriving at the proposed stop for coffee it was agreed that our pleasures in the experience (and the odd little chat) , had made us potentially for lunch so it was unanimously agreed that it would be comfort stop rather than coffee one .

So off for the next section. This started with the Cuckoo Trail to Horam . I love the Cuckoo Trail – have very good memories going right back to the early days of B &H Clarion , (in fact the very first ride ) so it was a pleasure for me and as it looked like for everyone . Then onwards to Lions Green and south to Chiddingly for lunch at the Six Bells . An amazing place – unimaginably busy but able to provide food for 11 people within about 30 minutes.

February 24, 2019: Berwick circular

I can’t go through the everyone’s menu – except to say that Nick said he was very pleased with the chips (of which he is a connoisseur) . I had the last vegan nut roast which very good indeed and so generous that I could not finish completely – I remember comments on salmon – and hopes for the Spotted Dick which was awaited .

February 24, 2019: Berwick circular

The next stage was the route to Berwick Station . John and I left before the others because we had need to be in Brighton and could not risk missing the train. However, although we made good speed (and really made up the exercise for the day), we nevertheless got the train with the rest and we all travelled back to Brighton together.

24 Feb Berwick circular

So here’s to say thanks to Graham for a very well worked-out ride – which I found was plotted through Rides with GPS which gives plots of hills , Bridleways can be checked– and he uses google street views to check junctions road conditions etc. Then download to GPS and much more . All that is completely beyond me…. Just maps and reckies for me – and I know Graham also uses them – but this time for Graham it produced a great ride .

Joyce Edmond-Smith

More photos on Flickr


27 February 2019

Dear All

Thanks to Graham, Jim and Wendy we are nicely set up for rides in March and April. But time flies as we all know. So it’s not too early to think about rides in May and June! I’ve added the dates for May in the Future Rides grid though for the moment you’ll need to check on train availability.


I ‘phoned Julian yesterday afternoon. Things are still very frustrating for him – especially for someone normally so active. He says he’s less mobile than ever, has been in hospital for several days and has an MRI scan scheduled for today. We just have to hope that it helps to identify the problem and that they can do something more to help him. He tells me that Tessa and Sikka plan to visit him next week – which I’m sure he will appreciate. I know we all hope for some better news then.


I’ll be sending out agenda paper for the AGM (25 March) at the beginning of next month in both modes as I explained earlier this month. Do let me know if there is anything you’d like on the agenda.

BHT- Greater Brighton Challenge 19 May

There’s been some discussion of this in the google-group. Does anyone want to take up Roger’s role from last year and do a piece for the next newsletter? (Should be 12 March if all goes to plan)

Hilda Fox (1924-2019) and the Clarion

Unless, like me, you take Cycling Weekly you won’t have seen the obit to Hilda which say she was ‘a formidable racing cyclist and still holds many Clarion records’. It goes on to say that she learned to ride a bike at the age of 14 after she had saved enough working (presumably part-time) in a mill to buy one. Then she met members of Stockport Clarion CC when she worked at Fairy’s Engineering during World War II, joined them at the age of 16 and began to race in 10 mile time trials as well as being the only woman rider on the club’s weekly rides. She attended the annual dinner of her local Dukinfield cycling club just a week before she died.

The obituary reminded me of an even more formidable woman cyclist. It says that Hilda won a bronze medal ‘in the 1958 100mile Ladies National Championships behind Beryl Burton and Millie Robinson.’ I think I may have mentioned Beryl Burton in these newsletters before. When I was growing up she was a legendary figure in cycling circles though never given the wider recognition she deserved. I think this is the best bit from her Wikipedia entry

In 1967, she set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles – a mark that surpassed the men’s record of the time by 0.73 miles and was not superseded by a man until 1969.] While setting the record she caught and passed Mike McNamara who was on his way to setting the men’s record at 276.52 miles and winning that year’s men’s British Best All-Rounder. She is reputed to have given him a liquorice allsort as she passed him. Apparently, McNamara ate the sweet.

According to the foreword to her memoirs, a Frenchman wrote: “If Beryl Burton had been French, Joan of Arc would have to take second place.’

Clarion History

As I mentioned last time for today’s episode I’m recycling a piece I wrote some years ago about the Clarion and cycling connections -and exploits – of the composer Gustav Holst. Following this I may have to suspend the series for a bit though I do intend to take it on till the early months of World War I eventually.

My problem is that I’m very busy ‘history-wise’ for the next few weeks. Among several other things I’ve agreed to give a talk in London to the Socialist History Society about my ILP book on 16 March and I need to spend some time putting this together.



27 February 2019

In his history of the Clarion CC, Fellowship is Life (pp 49-50) the late Denis Pye mentions that the young Gustav Holst – the composer best remembered for The Planets – was involved with the Clarion. He was also a formidable cyclist – though whether he ever actually rode with the Clarion CC we don’t (or at least I don’t) know.

Below are some information and extracts from his biographers – Holst’s daughter, Imogen Holst’s Gustav Holst. A Biography 2nd ed 1969and Michael Short’s Gustav Holst. The Man and His Music OUP 1990

Before he moved to London, Holst lived in Cheltenham:

…he would sometimes walk or cycle the 97 miles from London to Cheltenham with his trombone slung on his back. Occasionally he would take the opportunity of practising the instrument while resting during the journey, to the astonishment of the farmers on whose land he sat. [Short p 22]

Holst was asthmatic and Short speculates that he got interested in cycling via articles in the Cheltenham music magazine The Minim, which also ‘carried pieces on socialism.’ (p 29)

In London he joined the Hammersmith Socialist Society – whose leading figure and ‘guru’ was William Morris – and formed the Hammersmith Socialist Choir where he met Isobel his future wife.

He was also occasionally to be seen perched on a cart playing a harmonium, while being dragged round the streets of Hammersmith by a group of enthusiastic distributors of socialist propaganda.’ (Short p 30)

He included his own song ‘Two Brown Eyes’ in a ‘Grand Evening Concert’ by the Hammersmith Socialist Choir concert in Feb 1898. The 2nd movement of his ‘Cotswold Symphony’ (July 1900) was an elegy to the memory of William Morris. In 1908 , according to Imogen Holst, ( p 32) he was ill and ordered by his doctor to take a holiday in a warm climate. So he went cycling in the Algerian desert!

And according to Short (p 84) in the following summer of 1909 he cycled to Steyning to stay with friends and – riding with no headgear – fainted with heat exhaustion. He was persuaded to take the train back. Doesn’t it seem amazing that he could survive the heat of the Sahara – only to be floored by the weather in West Sussex?


Series to be resumed…

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 February 2019 – Berwick Circular

11 February 2019

This ride divides into three sections:
6 miles to Hailsham and a coffee and snack at Bebbles Langos.
Mostly flat.
10 miles to Chiddingly and lunch at the Six Bells

We will follow the cuckoo trail to Horam the highest point on our route, then head west to Lions Green and then south to Chiddingly and lunch at the Six Bells at 1:15.

A final 6 miles back to Berwick Station.

After lunch we go the short distance to Muddles green where we will head south via Golden Cross and Chalvington and back to Berwick station.

Length: 22 miles all on Road or Cuckoo Trail, some gentle undulations max gradient 3.2%
Duration: 6 hours including stops
Pace: We will need to maintain a good pace on this ride to keep to timing.
Meet: at Brighton station to catch the 10:05 train to Berwick (Buy a return ticket to Berwick)
Start: We will start the ride at 10:35 at Berwick station for anyone arriving by car.
Return: from Berwick at 15:55

To help me book lunch please email me at if you are coming


The Last Ride: Sunday 10 February – Clarion Relay Run to Worthing

11 February 2019

Pouring with rain at 9.30am & so  we decide not to go,but it stopped at 9.45 so we set out. Headwind so strong that I had to pedal down Duke’s Mound & decide that I’ll only make it to Palace Pier meeting point & then enjoy the tailwind home.

However – at pier I see almost 8 people in yellow vests & rain gear all ready for the off. There’s Joyce & John Clinton, whom we’d not seen for a while, David – our leader, already cycled from Shoreham & hardly wet at all, though he said storms were expected at Shoreham at 11am & dark clouds surrounded us. Chris, Mick, Sikka, All ready to face the 20+mph headwinds & gusts. Chris was asked to take a photo for another group or pier pleasure-seekers but general view was that our Clarion Group Pic could wait till Marocco’s Cafe where we would be joined by Hovians.


Graham joined at Peace Statue & Tessa & Pru at the italian ice-cream cafe & we all had chat & photo op & ploughed on to next stage along the prom [as much as permitted] to Lagoon, where I again thought I could manage one more leg, though Harbour Way prospect was daunting in such strong winds. It seemed a long way to Carat’s Cafe but then I said, like Goethe at the San Gothard Pass “Thus far, but no further”. Mick ,who had a cold agreed to join me & the Clarion Convoy proceeded, hoping to lunch at southern end of Worthing Pier.

Joyce did suggest that I could ride to Worthing & take train back, but I was longing for the tailwind to carry me homeward bound. Mick & I had a little stop to watch the surfers ride the waves. There were at least 30 & two who had finished told me it was good out there. Saw a few crashes, but plenty more surfers arriving for the thrills. Windmills on horizon were enjoying the spin too!

Rain, sun & rainbows back in Brighton, but mostly wind!  Hope the rest of the bunch had fun & good fortune. I had a nap & Mick had the England – France rugby. Thanks to David for  a jolly ride [or-half a ride] or even less in our case.


Clarion Ride Palace pier to Worthing pier … a continuation.

Mick and Anne left us at Carats car park. We continued battling the headwind to Shoreham where David suggested a welcome coffee stop. On an earlier ride Prudence had discovered an upstairs ‘sitting room’ in Toast on the Coast cafe and recommended it. It was indeed delightful and though the coffee may not have been as good as the cafe next door chosen by Joyce and John, we enjoyed the convivial setting which we had to ourselves.

We reassembled, and all apart from Joyce and John decided to continue to Worthing. There was no sign of the predicted rain and the sky was lighting up with shreds of sunlight. We persevered into the headwind thinking how easy our return journey would be.

Worthing Pier 10th February

Arriving at Worthing pier David gave us the choice of two lunch stops, one either end of the pier. We chose the end of the pier because both sea and sky looked so magnificent and we would have those views. The building is Art Deco, warm and inviting with a discreet piano player for entertainment. Unfortunately the menu was sparse, most of us choosing baked potatoes with fillings. We were disappointed and all wished we had chosen Graham’s tomato and pepper soup. Conversation at both coffee and lunch stops centred on holidays of one sort or another- yachting, cycling, Center parcs and the Dieppe raid. Gardening was another subject, compost and the sex lives of worms – of which we knew little?

Clarion ride 10 February 2019

The sun was out when we set off home. As we approached Shoreham, grey skies appeared with a magnificent rainbow, then a smattering of rain. Apart for a few gusts the wind was with us. We gathered for a photo of the group on Shoreham Beach before leaving David at home and continuing eastwards fast to beat the rain.

Thank you David for trusting the weather and leading us on an invigorating ride.



11 February 2019

Dear All

Very brave riders yesterday, battling against that wind! See the reports below.

Thanks to a very successful ride planning meeting we now have rides planned for the whole of March and April – as you will be able to see from ‘Future Rides’ (below). So now may be the time to start thinking about May and June! In fact it seems from the most recent message I’ve had from him that Jim is already doing so.

Ride Guidelines
Attached together with this newsletter, and elsewhere on this blog, are some guidelines for B&H Clarion rides. Back in 2014 our Chair, Roger, put together very useful guidelines for ride leaders. Recently Jim has suggested that with so many new people taking part in rides it might be useful to extend the guide to give people an idea of what to expect on our rides as well as giving advice for those leading them. So Roger and Jim have revised the guide and added a preliminary section for all participants so that it’s not just for prospective leaders. See

Thanks to those who contacted me about the dates. As a result we were able to rule out the Tuesday and the Thursday and Anne and Mick decided on Monday 25 March. Please make a note of the date in your diary or on your calender. I’ll be sending out the papers for the AGM fairly soon. Please let me know if you have any motions or anything else you’d like on the agenda. I will of course include the New Forest weekend under ‘Proposals for activities in 2019.’ I’ve started writing my secretary’s report. Reports from other officers will be most welcome.

Finally an extract from CyclingUK’s Cycleclips that is worth knowing about.

There’s a theme of bike security this week so if you’re worried about your wheels this might be a good way to deter thieves. While a strong, quality lock is the first step in the prevention of theft, you can also register your bike online for free. So, if the worst does happen the police have the best chance of returning your bike to you. BikeRegister is the UK’s national cycle database, used by all UK police forces and the leading initiative aiming to reduce cycle theft, identify stolen bikes and assist in owner recovery. Cycling UK members can get a 15% discount on all their products.


19 The ‘Clarion Scheme’ or NIGFTLU (Final Part)

11 February 2019

The last two episodes sketched in the essential background in terms both of the Clarion stance on democracy and the developments in the trade unions – essentially from ‘New Unionism’ to ‘Employers’ Counter-offensive’ with the latter culminating in the Engineering Lockout of 1897 to 1898 which threatened to smash the most well-established of all British trade unions– the Amalgamated Society of Engineer or ASE – and very nearly did. It should now be possible to make sense of the ‘Clarion scheme’, why it seemed to gain a significant foothold and why, ultimately, like, for example, the Clarion referendum, it failed.

There were several schemes for allying unions into a mutually supportive federation. Most were named after their originators – Eyre’s scheme- which the Clarion‘s by now well-established rival Keir Hardie’s Labour Leader tended to favour – or Horrock’s scheme. What became known as the ‘Clarion Scheme’ was the brainchild of P J King.

Little is known about King. At the time of the New Unionism around 1890 he had been the leader of the Lancashire Chemical and Copper Workers’ Union centred on St Helens and Widnes. King’s first Clarion article promoting his scheme appeared on 6 February 1896. For the next nearly four years his federation scheme – soon known as the ‘Clarion Scheme’ was featured in the paper most weeks. Four of the Clarion Pamphlet series – Nos 17, 24, 28, and 33 were also published in its support – the first under Blatchford’s name as well as King’s. The association with the paper was to be a mixed blessing for King’s proposal. It did get it nationwide publicity but it also mobilised anti-Clarion elements.

The scheme was very Clarionesque in its ethos. In June 1898, just a month before it was launched as the National and International General Federation of Trades and Labour Unions [definitely just NIGFTLU from now on!] King wrote: ‘The Trade Unions of this country must no longer be manipulated and controlled by a bureaucracy. The initiative and referendum will do much to check abuses of irresponsible persons.’ He went on to attack ‘well-paid and well-groomed officials’ – hardly likely to go down well in the trade union ‘establishment.’

There were to be only two NIGFTLU full-time officials – president and secretary. They would be assisted by an elected lay Executive. The decisions of its annual delegate meeting – to be called the Federal Labour Parliament – were to be ‘submitted to the general body for confirmation. ‘ Referendums were also to be used to decide whether or not to aid member organisations in disputes with employers. These direct democracy provisions were the most novel feature of NIGFTLU together with its ‘four nation’ structure which guaranteed at least one Executive member from each of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Not only entire unions but individual branches could join NIGFTLU.

After a very shaky start during which uncertainty prevailed over where – Manchester? Carlisle? London? and when, May? June? July? – the initial meeting of NIGFTLU was to take place it was launched in July 1898 with, reportedly, a Federal Labour Parliament meeting attended by 200 delegates representing 750,000 trade unionists. King was elected as secretary.

Meanwhile, the 1897 TUC, under the pressure of the disastrous lockout of the ASE, set up a committee which put together what became known as the ‘official scheme’. This was to become the main rival of King’s Clarion scheme. It was meant to debated at the 1898 TUC in Bristol. But the night before the issue was to be dealt with the Colston Hall burnt down and the TUC leadership postponed discussion until a Special Congress in January 1899. My friend Logie Barrow, who is the world expert on NIGFTLU, thinks that the members of the Parliamentary Committee in the photo that appeared soon after this look surprisingly relieved.

When the Special Congress met it was announced that only the ‘official scheme’ would be discussed. An amendment designed to allow discussion of other schemes – notably the Clarion one – was defeated. The meeting went on to set up the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) which still exists today. There were now two rival federations.

The GFTU got off to a slow start – but it lasted. NIGFTLU didn’t. King’s lack of tactical sense in seeking union support and his rather erratic organising ability had much to do with this. Being seen as part of the Keir Hardie v Robert Blatchford or Labour Leader v Clarion vendetta didn’t help at least not in some union circles. The Clarion also retreated into the role of an entertaining newspaper that was getting a bit fed up with the scheme associated with it. Rather like the case of the Clarion referendum one gets the impression of poor tactics not always thought through and boredom with the issue which was easy to dismiss as dilettantism. Blatchford continued to maintain – in October 1901 – that King had not been given the chance he should have had by the powers that be in the trade union movement. ‘I do not believe that the scheme or the man had fair play.’

NIGFTLU still enjoyed some support but it gradually faded away in the early years of the twentieth century. I am not aware of any reference to it after about 1905. So the best laid schemes of the Clarion once more came to nought – there was not to be an ultra-democratic trade union organisation flourishing in Britain. That said, there must be plenty of people who are members of trade unions – even active ones – who have never heard of the GFTU – the TUC’s ‘official scheme’ and NIGFTLU’s rival – though, as I have already said, it is still very much in existence.

Next Time.
I think we’ve had enough of the ‘heavy’ political stuff for the moment so I’m going to use a piece on the composer Gustav Holst and his association with the Clarion and his cycling adventures. It’s long enough since I first circulated it.