The Next Ride 1st September 2019 Haywards Heath to Lewes

23 August 2019

This is at least the third time I have scheduled this ride, but it has never got as far as actually being done, for various reasons. Hopefully we will have more luck this time.

The ride explores some rarely visited territory to the east of Haywards Heath and features some of my favourite lanes. There will be several mandatory stops to admire interesting animals and other attractions, with some optional railway history at the end. We will proceed in a group, as usual, at the speed of the slowest.

There will be a morning coffee stop, lunch at a pub in Shortbridge, and hopefully tea as well later on.


Length: 27 miles.

Duration: 7 hours (7½ with tea stop)

Terrain: Short section of bridleway and some dedicated cycle route; the rest on quiet roads. I can’t remember any hills (but then I did do the recce 18 months ago!)

Start at Haywards Heath Station, Boltro Road exit, at 9:20 am.

Getting there: Take the 08:57 Victoria train from Brighton to Haywards Heath. At Haywards Heath, go towards the south end of the platform (opposite direction to the direction of travel) and go up in the lift to the bridge, then take the lift down from the bridge to the Boltro Road exit (not the car park).

Getting home: Trains leave Lewes station for Brighton at 07, 24 and 46 minutes past the hour.

This is a linear ride. Motorists can use the direct Lewes to Haywards Heath train (hourly at 21 minutes past) at the start or end of the ride.


Last Ride Sunday the 18th August 2019 Hayling Island

23 August 2019

By sheer luck and by minutes to spare, Jim, Sally and I managed to get to Brighton station before a major downpour which, unfortunately, Angela D, Sikka and Nick did not avoid and consequently arrived somewhat wet and bedraggled.  Still, the downpour did not dampen spirits as we boarded the train to Havant, checking the Met Office weather report once on the train which reassuringly stated that the sun would be out in Havant.

Arriving at Havant Station, the sun was indeed out and we began our ride. From there it is a short ride to the beginning of the causeway that links the south of Havant to Hayling Island and, cycling along the causeway in the sunshine, Angela D, Sikka and Nick began to warm up from their drenching. From the causeway you have amazing views across the Langstone Harbour towards Portsmouth and the unmistakeable landmark of the spinnaker tower.

August 18, 2019: Hayling Island cycle ride

August 18, 2019: Hayling Island cycle ride

Once on Hayling Island you cycle along an old railway line with further wonderful seascape vistas. There were many stops for photo opportunities, including one of a lone egret paddling on the shoreline, hoping to catch its lunch. We continued along this path for a few miles in the lovely sunshine, though it was quite windy, winding through the residential part of Hayling Island, until we reached the southern point and the beach where we were to have lunch and some people wanted to swim.

August 18, 2019: Hayling Island cycle ride

Unfortunately, there were quite a few windsurfers in the water, making swimming possibly quite hazardous and, with the wind now quite strong, the sea did look a bit choppy and so the swimmers decided against going in. So, we had our lunch sitting on some benches on the seafront and had a look at the very tall, stone WW2 memorial to a group called, ‘Combined Operations Pilotage Parties’ who went on secret reconnaissance missions on proposed enemy held invasion beaches and whose information evidently saved the lives of thousands of service men and women.

August 18, 2019: Pie & Vinyl, Southsea

After lunch we set of to the south-western tip of the island to catch the ferry across to Portsmouth. Angela D, having done a recce with Sally of the route, took us past a rather amazing Victorian crescent which would not have been out of place in either Bath or Brighton, but which did seem rather out of place on the island. Evidently, built in 1825 it was to form part of a vision of Hayling Island as ‘Utopia by the sea’ but that vision never came to fruition. Norfolk Crescent stands alone as a reminder of the rather grand future that had been planned for the island.

We then boarded the little ferry, most of us not having to produce ID to prove we qualified for concessionary tickets, except for Nick who, of course, is a ‘spring chicken’ compared to many of us!!

Sikka and I agreed that we love the excitement and adventure of a ferry ride as it is just such a wonderful feeling being out on the open sea with the wind in your face and there certainly was plenty of wind.

Arriving in Portsmouth we began the final stint along the seafront to the station to get home.  By now the wind was really strong and we were riding directly into it. Sally and I found it too difficult and got off our bikes and walked with them. It was perfectly fair enough that the stronger riders went on, especially as Angela D had to get back to Brighton by a particular time.

So, after we got off the seafront into Portsmouth itself, it was Jim, Sally and I who arrived at Fratton Station in Portsmouth to get the train home.

Many, many thanks to Angela D and Sally for organising this very pretty and interesting ride and I do hope we will do it again when, hopefully, it won’t be quite so windy.

Cheers and love to everyone –

Angela C xx

Clarion Latest

23 August 2019

Dear All

I have had a number of replies to my message about the very sad death of Leon. And more people have made use of the googlegroup to make their tributes. Of the direct responses to my message, some people who didn’t know him have sent messages of condolence including Ian Clarke, our national secretary, Peter Roscoe of Bury Clarion, and Angela Devas.

Of those who did know him, Fred says ‘I remember the first time we met him, on a station (I don’t think it was Hassocks, further up the line) after a Clarion ride… he was interested in who we all were, the Clarion, and was an enthusiastic member from then on.. A great character who will be missed by everyone who knew him…’ Dave says ‘I met him a couple of times and had a laugh with him so my sympathy goes to his family, friends and to the club members’. Chloe : ‘I’m really sorry. I only met him on the bus once and I thought he was jolly and lovely.’ Anne , ‘He was a great asset to our club & we will miss him greatly.’ Joan, ‘We enjoyed riding and talking with him when we were first members.’ Angela Coulter ‘He did indeed love his cycling and he always had a cheerful way which is how I shall remember him.’ Sue and Chris, ‘Leon was such a lovely gentle person and we so enjoyed the rides we did with him He will indeed be missed by many .’

I very much concur with what everyone has said about Leon. My most recent memory of being with him was back in March when he gave Sue and me a lift home from our AGM. I understand that, to the end, Leon was as optimistic as ever and looking forward to getting back to joining Clarion rides. If you’d like to send condolences to his family, and haven’t already done so, Tessa tells me that the address is Joyce Moore, 14 Manor Ave, Hassocks, BN6 8NG.


Two September rides are already taken but since, as I suggested last time, it is unlikely that we would want to have rides three Sundays running I’ve left out 15 September. The next scheduled ride is on 29 September but we could have one on 22nd instead. I’ve updated rail routes. The Chichester direction has a ‘bus replacement’ on 29 (and so do both Hastings and Seaford routes on 22nd). Details of both 1 and 8 September rides below.

Anyone want to take on either 22 or 29 September? If you do please contact both me -and Roger – – who will sending out the next newsletter, after the 8 September ride,while I’m away on holiday



Clarion History 25

23 August 2019

My Clarion History series is coming to an end. I have read the paper up to the end of 1914, mainly but not entirely back in the 1970s, and after the episode in this edition I reckon I can do two more ones of reasonably general interest.

But Sussex University Library has only microfilm of the paper up to the end of 1914. So that’s where my history will end.

25 More on the outbreak of war in 1914

Of all the socialist papers of the time the Clarion was the most unequivocal in its support of the war. And there’s no doubt it disappointed many previously firm supporters and that it lost some readership as a result.

Blatchford’s own contribution to the first wartime edition of the paper had the title ‘The Drums of Armageddon.’ It had been written before war was declared. Blatchford predicted that by the time the paper appeared ‘every CLARION reader will know more than I know now.’ He had lived the whole of the previous week, he told readers, ‘in a kind of waking nightmare.’ In Sussex he had seen sentries posted on Newhaven Quay but ‘the few English women and men we met seemed so marvellously unconscious of the gathering storm.’   The regatta in Rye had seemed to generate greater interest.

Yet there was no escaping.

The drums of Armageddon are coming nearer, rolling louder. The men are marching steadily to slaughter and death. Do the German people want to fight the French? Do the French people want to fight the Germans? Do the Russian peasants want to fight? Do the British people want to fight? Have any of these peoples a quarrel with any other? No!

He continued in this vein for much of the editorial. Would it always be the case that ‘when our bloodthirsty, decadent half idiotic masters set the drums of Armageddon rolling we must march and slay?’

But it was clear that the Clarion was not going to follow the lead of Labour Leader in opposing British intervention in the war.

In the midst of this devilish tragedy as I can see clearly enough and so can many others, there are two powers against whom no charge of blood-guiltiness or violent threats can be brought, and those two countries are Britain and France. And they are both democracies. I have said before, and said it many times, that it behoves those two democracies to stand together and that while they stand together no power on earth can break them.

At the time Blatchford wrote war had broken out between Germany and France, the Germans had ‘threatened the French frontier’ but had not invaded. There had been no fighting. He continued:

Perhaps it is yet possible to prevent the tragedy? Perhaps if our Government stands firm and at the same time offers to Russia and to Germany the mediation of America, of Italy, of Britain, we may come through this awful trial without disaster or dishonour.

Alex Thompson’s article, ‘War!’ was written after the declaration of war. Like Blatchford, he recounted at some length how ‘The dread of this awful contingency has appalled and paralysed my faculties for a week.’ He recalled the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the suppression of the Paris Commune during ‘Bloody Week’ which he had experienced as a child in Paris. ‘Forty four years ago my youthful mind received impressions of scenes so deeply grievous and ghastly’ that he could not now ‘muster philosophic composure to face the prospect of the tale’s repetition.’ Yet, he concluded, ‘It had to be. This war could not be averted.’

It was not a war to defend Serbia; ‘Britain would not fire a pea-shooter or kill a cat in defence of Servia.’ (Serbia was generally known as Servia in Britain at this time.) The war was, Thompson said, as Blatchford had been warning for the last decade, ‘premeditated and prearranged.’

It is a war for the domination of Europe by the German War Lords, for the annexation of the Dutch, Danish and Belgium seaboard, and the eventual smash of the British colonial Empire.

We should ‘acquit ourselves as a united and resolute people.’ There was no quarrel ‘with our brothers in Germany’ but with ‘the aggressive, arrogant, brutal and domineering War Lords of Berlin.’ When they had been ‘humiliated and destroyed’ and the ‘great German Republic’ had replaced them ‘the three most enlightened democracies in Europe will be able to form an alliance that shall indeed make for peace and progress.’

In the meantime the government had acted quickly ‘to protect the bankers and financiers.’ They should act equally quickly in the interests of the people. ‘The whole of the country’s food supply should be nationalised immediately.’ two months.’

If anyone had the slightest doubt about the Clarion’s stance the front page of the following week’s issue (14 August) featured not only Blatchford on ‘The Strain of Armageddon’ but also the large advertisement carrying Kitchener’s now famous appeal ‘Your King and Country Needs You’ which ended with ‘God Save the King’

I mentioned Blatchford’s attacks on religious belief in God and my Neighbour in 1903 and in Not Guilty: A defence of the Bottom Dog two years later a few episodes ago. So here you had Blatchford seeming to call on a God he didn’t believe in to save a monarch he’d never shown any enthusiasm for.

It is not hard to imagine the shock this must have caused to many readers.


Next time. Blatchford and Thompson in wartime France

The Next Ride: Sunday 18th August. A seaside, sandwiches and swimming ride around Hayling Island and to Portsmouth Harbour.

9 August 2019

Buy return tickets to Portsmouth Harbour. Train leaves from

Brighton station 09.30

Hove 09.34

Portslade 09.39

Shoreham 09.46

Hayling Island is very pretty and has lots of suitable places to swim, so bring your cossies and a towel and we will have a picnic on the beach. There are cafes dotted around where we can recover with a nice cup of tea. We will be mostly following Billy’s route, named after the old steam engine line. There are many little nature reserves along this route.

We then get the ferry to near Portsmouth and cycle along the promenade, most of which has an excellent segregated cycle path, (see photo on Clarion twitter account) to Portsmouth old town and depart from Portsmouth Harbour back to Brighton

Portsmouth Harbour 16.14, direct train Btn 17.52. This is the train we will be aiming for as the next direct train is not until 18.14

17.10 arr 18.24 change at Fratton or Havant, lifts available

arr 19.24 change at Fratton or Havant

My mobile on the day or in case of emergencies is 07814 457 680


The Two Last Rides: 21st and 28th July

9 August 2019

21 July 2019

Polegate to Pevensey via Herstmonceux and the Astronomical Observatory

Angela (D) Wendy (S) and Anne report

The Clarion crowd met at the station, David, Sean, Angela C, Wendy S and Angela D, awaiting their leader, but ever optimistic that something would turn up, assembled in the train. Just as it was departing, Graham dived into the train, followed by the Pru. Were they dallying in the waiting room? Dawdling in the coffee shop? No matter, we were off.

We scooped up Mick and Ann at Polegate Station, and cycled a few hundred metres to our first stop – Polegate’s conveniently placed public conveniences.

The first part of the ride was Arcadian bliss with bits of sunshine, lovely rambling through the Pevensey levels and an all-round state of expectancy and fun. This is never a good moment for Clarionistas, for it generally presages a doom-laden scenario of future disaster, and so it was this time.

As you all know, we are near the anniversary of the moon landing and we were threading our way through the back routes leading to the Observatory. The combination of possible space travel and a star-gazing mission, alas went to our leader’s head, and round about a disused sky tower he propelled us into a cosmic orbit which led us into one of those black holes we hear so much about. Stoically the Clarionistas followed while our leader must have faintly heard the strains of ‘Ground control to Major Graham’


Pevensey Picnic

And, as you know, it does not end well. Meanwhile, amongst the crew, there were stirrings of dissent and mutterings of ‘My cosmonaut outfit is at the cleaner’s!’ and ‘I am not convinced these protein balls are 100% vegan’ ‘I am not going without my little Laika’

So our space-addled leader took his head away from the clouds and returned us to the ground and we were all instructed to back-pedal madly – we are good at this Clarionistas – especially if we think there might be a picnic at the end of it.

So the last part of the ride was a straight, no-nonsense road, entirely divorced from a fantasy life of orbiting astronauts and cosmic rings; we were all glad to assemble safely, with our more sedentary companions who knew nothing of our space travelling adventures, in the grounds of Pevensey Castle.

Mostly Angela (D)

Pevensey Picnic

On arrival at Pevensey Castle folk dispersed briefly – Pru and Graham hit the café, in need of coffee, David and Sean disappeared into the pub in need of beer, and the rest of us joined the advance party, comprising Joan, TJ and Nye – all the way from their new home in Wakefield, and Clarion National Chair, our own dear Secretary Ian, with Sue and Joyce. Some of us were surprised to learn of Joyce’s near election as our MEP for SE Region around 1992 and to hear more about her campaign, with help from Sheila Shaffer. The castle ruins made a picturesque backdrop for our picnic, and folk shared some delightful delicacies such as strawberries, beetroot cake, pork pies, home-made bread and choc and banana loaf.

Pevensey Picnic

Pevensey Picnic

Suitably refreshed, and the ride having officially finished at Pevensey Castle, ideas began to emerge as to how to spend the rest of the afternoon. Ian, Sue and Joyce returned to Brighton by car, Joan and family called in to the café for afternoon tea before continuing their ride, Angela D went off to contemplate a swim at Cooden Beach, Graham and Pru decided to return via Eastbourne and the remaining Clarionistas cycled off towards Polegate, with Mick taking over the yellow jersey. Our arrival at Polegate Station was perfectly timed, thanks to Mick who thoughtfully added in a short detour ensuring that no time was wasted hanging about on the platform! As our train pulled away from the Station, it was lovely to catch sight of Anne waving us off at the barrier, reminiscent of Jenny Agutter in the Railway Children.

Thank you Graham for thoughtfully planning this summer picnic, to include an enjoyable cycle across the levels plus options for arriving by car and train. It was lovely to see some of our Clarion friends who have been unable to join us on rides for a while. Folk seemed to appreciate the pub and café options, and there was no shortage of ideas for routes home from Pevensey.

Wendy ( S) and Anne

28 July 2019 Nick and (mainly) Angela report

Portslade to Withdean Woods via the Chattri

It was Portslade station where Tessa, Sikka, Angela, Marilyn, Wendy & Nick gathered for Dave’s mostly off-road cycle route, which took us along the Dyke Railway Trail to Devil’s Dyke, Rushfield’s Garden Centre Cafe, Pyecombe and along the South Downs Way to the Chattri Memorial. The route ended in Patcham & Withdean Woods.

July 28, 2019: Portslade to Devil’s Dyke & Chattri Memorial

Highlights included Wendy’s tomato soup in Rushfield Garden Centre’s cafe, the narrow path descent from Devil’s Dyke (which most of us considered far too treacherous to cycle down) and the always magnificent Chattri Memorial.

Sikka, Marilyn & Tessa had to leave the ride before the end, so we were reduced to a quartet for the Pycombe Church afternoon picnic. This was an excellent day of summer cycling, which avoided most cars and busy roads.


At Portslade our leader Dave, had a health and safety announcement regarding the importance of ICE or what to do In case of Emergency so we could all have our friends and relations know what had befallen a Clarionista en route. Now Dave is mister inventor and scorns conventional and ungainly methods in favour of his own, homemade devices.

It appeared that Dave had all our next of kin addresses and details invisibly tattooed on his forehead; to make these details appear all he needed to do was gently rub the site with a handful of Sussex grassland or a few leaves from the wild. All this information would be available to whoever needed it…except of course to Dave himself. Unfortunately the days when genteel Clarionistas would never go out for a ride without an elegant little device known as a powder compact which allowed lipstick and other fripperies to be discreetly applied en route with the aid of the mirror in the box (also helpful for signalling and making fires in the wild and many other uses which need not concern us here), as I say these days modern manners prevail and now everybody holds in their hands a mobile phone or suchlike. What to do in the event of a mass Clarion combustible incident, leaving Dave alone with the names and numbers of our loved ones and him unable to read them?

A resourceful, television addicted member of the Clarion team came up with the solution; there would be a Designated Survivor, similar to the television series (she recommends it highly). The difference would be the designated person would not be assigned the role but it would be left to chance; we, as Clarionistas, would make sure one member of the group (as well as Dave of course) would stay alive and well enough to read off the numbers inscribed on Dave’s forehead.

We all agreed this was an excellent idea and were able to set off. Dave is a hero straight put of The Perils of Pauline (1914)

A series from the silent era which I’m sure many Clarionistas will remember. Dave led some of us (others were too sensible, or too cowardly, or pleaded the sensitivity of their electrical bicycles) along a winding and perilous route down Devil’s Dyke, towards an abyss with a sheer wall to one side of the path and a drop of several thousand feet on the other. I am sorry to report that your narrator had an attack of altitude sickness; the world spun round; I dared not look down; going forward on the narrow path was impossible and reversing unachievable.

July 28, 2019: Portslade to Devil’s Dyke & Chattri Memorial

My companion on the path, far from wishing to help in any way, was poised ready with his camera to capture the exact moment when the photogenic fall took place. I believe he has form on this issue – but I am pleased to report I arrived at the bottom of this crevasse as he was suffering from a disruptive form of the bicycle bends. Dave, among his many gadgets, had a portable decompression chamber but pointed out Rushfields café was not that far Many other adventures befell us (as with The Perils each instalment will form part of a serial to be shown in cinemas weekly – enough of Netflix!) but we were all agreed that Dave was an excellent leader, very patient and calm and carefully keeping his scattered Clarionistas wonderfully together. Many thanks to him for leading this ride.

July 28, 2019: Portslade to Devil’s Dyke & Chattri Memorial


Angela (D)


9 August 2019

The Clarion and the outbreak of war in 1914 Hilda Thompson’s ‘Spoilt Holiday’

I’m devoting this episode almost entirely to an account which appeared on the front page of the first wartime Clarion on 7 August 1914. It’s by Hilda Thompson, daughter of A.M.or Alex Thompson – aka ‘Dangle’ – who by that time was virtually editing the paper.

The outbreak of the First World War was traumatic for so many involved directly or indirectly. There had been wars – notably the Crimean War in the 1850s and the South African, or Boer War, in 1899-1902 as well as various ‘colonial’ conflicts. But there had not been a general European war which one way or another dragged everyone into it and was impossible to ignore for 99 years. Since the final defeat of Napoleon I at Waterloo.

I suspect pretty well everyone, at least in those countries most directly involved,suffered from some variety of trauma, if only intermittently, for the

rest of their lives. My mother was eight, going on nine, at beginning of August 1914. I’ve long believed that her worrying conviction that my brother and me would end up having to fight in a third world war reflected not only the fact that my Dad had been away in North Africa and Italy with the Eighth Army for much of the second conflict – and most of my early childhood – but also the unexpected shock of what happened at the beginning of the earlier war.

After 1914, and then reinforced in 1939 who could anticipate anything less awful? Fortunately, her fears never came to fruition – which is one of the many reasons I’ve always been a supporter of what is now the EU – in spite of its many shortcomings.

But first we need to remind ourselves of the chronology in order to understand Hilda’s piece better. The war had longer term origins – which are still very controversial – but what immediately triggered what has become known as the ‘July crisis’ was the murder of the archduke, Franz-Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, and his wife in Sarajevo on 28 June by a Serbian nationalist teenager, Gavrilo Princip. Sarejevo was the capital of Bosnia, once part of the Turkish empire but since the late 1870s

under Austrian-Hungarian occupation and since 1908 formally annexed by the Dual Monarchy. There’d recently been two Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913. There had been a degree of ‘proxy warfare’ by the Great Powers, especially from those Balkan rivals Austria-Hungary and Russia. But while many anticipated a third Balkan conflict few believed it might escalate into a much wider European war.

For example in his book Inside the Left, published during the Second World War Fenner Brockway wrote

The war of 1914 came suddenly. Ten days before it started I spoke at Oldham and my audience thought I was an hysterical scaremonger when I said that we were near war.

Things seemed to quieten down a little in July following the assassination but the Austrian-Hungarian rulers were convinced that Serbia was responsible for the awful act and determined that the Serbs should be ‘taught a lesson’ They began shelling Belgrade, the Serbian capital, on 29 July. Russia mobilised in Serbia’s support and on 1 August Germany, Austria-Hungary’s ally, declared war on Russia on 1 August, invaded Belgium in order to attack Russia’s ally France, against which it declared war. on 3rd and Britain declared war against Germany on 4 August.

For me more than any other later or contemporary account it’s Hilda Thompson’s story that is the most unexpected, even rather shocking, evidence of how unprepared for the outbreak of war almost everyone in Britain was. The title of her piece was ‘A Spoilt Holiday.’ It began ‘We had intended making a tour of the Harz Mountains, partly on foot, partly by train; and our intention had been to stay at least a month.’ It is not quite clear who exactly the ‘we’ were, apart from Hilda herself, but they had left Liverpool Street station late on Thursday 30 July and arrived in Hannover at about 1.30 the following day. While having a meal in a café they became aware of people excitedly reading ‘printed bills’ that were being given out in the street.

These, it quickly became apparent, announced ‘the Kaiser’s decree for the immediate mobilisation of the army.’ Still undeterred, they bought train tickets for Hildesheim and continued their journey, though at the station ‘the disorganisation caused by war was already felt.’ Sometime after midday the next day, Saturday, 1 August, they were advised by the landlord of the place where they were staying to return home immediately. He was himself ‘under marching orders’

Reluctantly agreeing, they took a train back to the Hook of Holland hearing en route that Germany had declared war on Russia. They worried that they might be marooned in Germany with trains unable to cross the border into the Netherlands. But in spite of such fears they reached home safely. Of their attitude at the start of their aborted journey Hilda Thompson wrote, ‘There were rumours of war, as everyone knew but no one in England had taken the matter seriously, and we felt that the excitement would add to the pleasure of our trip.’


Next time. More from the Clarion on the outbreak of war in 1914.