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