Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  




Dear fellow members and friends

13 July 2009

A week or so ago I received this email from Leon:

While on the naked bike ride in Brighton I met a chap who by chance noticed our Clarion logo body painting. He asked about our connection to the Clarion because his father was a Clarion member in Manchester many years ago. He told me that before his father knew of the Clarion he was out cycling and came across a pair of distressed young ladies. Their problem was a puncture that he stopped to fix, not only did he fix the tyre but he also got to know one of them so well that they got married. David Brandreth is their son from that marriage. I asked him if his father is still alive and the answer was positive, next I asked if he might have some stories to tell or old photos to let us see, positive once again. Mr Brandreth senior (84 years old) does not have or use a computer to send us these treasures but he is willing to talk to, and let a Manchester member of the Clarion scan and report on his photos and story. All that we need to do is contact the Manchester group and exchange details to get the ball rolling.  

Is it possible that you could find a Manchester contact and give him David's details?
And Leon included the contact details for David B. I thought it best to get the Manchester address first before contacting the section's secretary to follow up Leon's suggestion. He replied giving me that and adding that his father was very happy to help with any project.

His name is Arthur Brandreth. He was a member of the Clarion from 1945 to 1957. He used to race with Reg Harris.

So, I then sent all the relevant details to the Manchester Section secretary, Chris Goode. No reply as yet. Mention of Chris gives me a good opportunity to draw attention to an addition to our 'history page' which now includes details of Chris's BA 1990 thesis 'Clarion Cycling and Nascent Socialism'. Chris and Donald Lever – Fred's old school mate – are looking at the possibility of getting a version of this published. When I have any more news of this I will of course pass it on. In the meantime when Chris sent me the details he added:

The focus of the thesis is on the contribution of the Clarion Movement to the progress of the Labour Party and socialism. It also examines the contribution of the Clarion cyclists and Clarion Scouts. My first inspiration was meeting a member from Clitheroe Clarion and by reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Brighton members will know that the book is based in Mugsborough (Hastings). In the chapter entitled 'The Good Old Summer Time', a group of Clarion cyclists who were distributing left-wing pamplets were stoned by locals.
There are copies in the Manchester Metropolitian University library and the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.

An encounter with the Manchester Lady Cyclists features in the latest episode of the Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s at the end of this circular.


The Next Ride

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 26 July 2009
Three Bridges to Hassocks (a linear ride)

Meet at Brighton station to join the 10:17 train to Three Bridges or meet at Three Bridges station at 10:41.

At Three Bridges we set off west along the A2220 to a point where we enter National Cycle Route 20. Heading south through Furnace Green and into the Tilgate Park and Golf Course following route 20 over the M23 and on to Parish Lane also route 20. At Pease Pottage we head south on route 20 to Handcross. At the south end of the village we leave route 20 and head west over the A23 toward Horsham. After a very short distance turning south onto Coos Lane and heading down to Slaugham Lake and beyond to Warninglid. Continuing south on Spronketts Lane to the junction with the A272 and crossing over to Wineham Lane.
Follow Wineham Lane down to the Royal Oak for lunch.

After lunch we head back to Bob Lane and go east to Twineham and Hickstead where we cross the A23 at Rice-Bridge. Taking a Burgess Hill cycle-way that leads to Job Lane and crossing the A2300 to Goddards Green where we cross the Cuckfield road and head south to Hurstpierpoint College and the Hurst/Hassocks road where we head east to Hassocks to catch the return train to Brighton.

Distance: 21.5 miles.
Timing: Cycling 3 hours. Lunch 1 to 2 hours to suit you.
Hills: Not real hills but mostly when we are not climbing, we are freewheeling
Off road: Only in the Tilgate Park/Forest area where we use Route 20.
Traffic: Some urban traffic for a very short while at Three Bridges and Pease Pottage / Handcross.
Catering: Lunch at the Royal Oak, Wineham.

Meet at Brighton Station 09:50 for 'Group four saver'.

Leon's mobile phone number: 07596927757

Reports (in chronological order)

14 June 2009
Brighton Naked Bike Ride
- Joyce's Report

[I had to get the 15 June Circular out unusually quickly and Joyce's report came in just to late for inclusion. Then I forgot to include it on 29 June. Apologies! Here it is – better late than never. Ian]

~ ~ ~

This year's NBR was bigger and better than ever. No definitive figure of attendees yet, but definitely more than last year (which was 400) – I would bet somewhere between 5 – 700. The weather was fantastic as we all assembled on the Level in an atmosphere of fiesta. It does seem that getting one's clothes off in the sun and as a large group makes for conviviality, maybe it 's because all pretence is over and everyone is as vulnerable as another, perhaps that's also part of the pleasure of sun bathing on the beach. Anyway enough speculation, the fact is that it was a great experience – colour, music, a sense of freedom and the pleasure of taking part in a common purpose (it occurred to me as I went wobbling along handing out the card about oil and global warming that this may be what historic Clarionettes felt when they went out on their bikes with their leaflets.) As it turned out Leon Joyce and Fred seemed to be the only ones carrying the Clarion torch (or trumpet) this time , I know the others were out on the 'proper' Clarion ride.

We did about 8 miles sailing past the Pavilion, along the seafront into Hove with crowds of people clapping, laughing and cheering all the way. When I asked Leon if he wanted to do the report he said that he could find no way of expressing his feelings of 'euphoria while whirling through a kaleidoscope of fantastic colour and movement'. Seems to me he summed it up very well.

We ended at the nudist beach where a fantastic day ended with a wonderful swim in a breathtakingly cold sea and a naked man playing the trumpet (Leon has a great photo but not for the Clarion web site! )...


Sunday 5 July 2009
Toll Bridge Ride
– Alice's Report

Participants: Jeff, Mick, Anne, Jenny, Joyce, Amanda, Ian and Alice [and Allen on one of the longer rides IB]

The yearly ride from Shoreham to Wiston tearooms to raise money for the repair and upkeep of the old Toll bridge presented its yearly challenge for the Clarion riders. Challenges started well before the start of the ride with one of the riders nearly getting locked onto the train at Shoreham whilst trying to manoeuvre the bike off, only being saved by another group member running along the platform pushing all the open buttons and finally gaining the attention of the guard.

The start of the ride changed from previous years at Coombe farm to Ricardo's just over the toll bridge. Ride numbers were issued and fixed to back of shirts and the group eager to start on our chosen route 2. A phone call was received from Ian who had been held up and would meet us at Wiston tearooms. Off we set towards the A27 traffic lights to find the road closed with cones and had to cross this busy road using the pedestrian crossing. Our route took us past Lancing College, St Botolphs and then some challenging undulations into Steyning.

Sailing through Steyning heading towards A283 we made use of the first refreshment stop, fuelling up on apple juice and water. It also allowed an opportunity for the only photo of the group event.

Tollbridge 3

Eager to reach our destination for lunch we set off to meet confusion at the junction with the A283 where we could not find directions for route 2 only 3&4. Cautiously crossing the road, a decision was made to follow the direction for route 3&4 taking the B2135 until Spithandle Lane that we joined for a pleasant cycle through the woods. Some of the riders spotted deer that were obviously startled by the sheer speed of the passing Clarion group.

At last we reach Wiston tearooms, placing our orders for food and drinks and made a scramble for a table and chairs in the garden. This was quite a feat, because the tearooms are a popular spot for cyclists to take a rest (not just those on the Toll bridge ride) and family lunches out.

The usual wide range of repartee accompanied lunch as we awaited the arrival of Ian. Bets were taken on the estimated arrival time varying between 12:35 and 12:55. Mick was the closest with 12:55. After a leisurely lunch it was time to head back to Ricardo's. Being the last of the riders we assured the race official that he could remove all the race direction signs, as we were familiar with the route back.
Retracing our route back along Spit handle and back into Steyning a group decision was made to void the undulations of Maudlin Lane and proceed to Bramber and along the Downs Link path back to Botolphs. Negotiating one last hill with a rest on top to admire the view and contemplate the cement works, one last push was made to Ricardo's.

Welcome refreshments awaited the tired riders and because all the cake had been consumed the chocolate biscuits were broken into. Numbers were removed from our backs and medals given out for our achievements, which we all displayed with glowing pride. Well-done Clarion riders.


Ian adds: It began for me as 'one of those days'. About to start I discovered the car was out of petrol – and it was too late to get to the station to take the train. One 5 litre can from the nearest filling station didn't seem to do the trick – still wouldn't start. And when Sue and I tried to get a second can in the flap over the petrol cap was jammed and resisted our efforts to free it for over 10 minutes. When we finally got it open and the petrol in – the wretched car still wouldn't start. At this point I'd decided to send my sponsor money in and ask them to credit it to Joyce, but on the very last try the car started.

By this time I'd alerted everyone via Joyce and said not to wait but I would try to catch up at Wiston tea rooms. I was delayed further by a fairly long hold-up on the A27 caused by lane closures and then got myself in the wrong coned off lane, had to leave by the flyover slip road and drive all the way round through Shoreham and the airport to get to the start. When I went in they tried to award me a medal! I think I probably deserved one by then, but I explained that I hadn't finished the ride but was trying to start an hour and a half after the time intended. With the preliminaries now concluded I tried to phone Joyce again to say I was finally getting going but don't wait for me. Only to find I'd left the mobile in the car! Having retrieved that and phoned I final left just before 12 noon. Arriving at Wiston, the first person I saw – in a Clarion cap – was Allen who was doing one of the longer rides. Then I found Alice et al up the tea room garden.

Sunday 12 July 2009
Christ's Hospital to Shipley Mill and Shoreham
 - Tessa's Report

[More photos on Flickr]

Alice, Jim, Joyce, Roger, Sue, Suzanne and Tessa all met at Brighton Station to catch the 10am train to Christ's Hospital. After some confusion regarding our destination (Suzanne nearly buying a ticket to Christchurch), we boarded a very long train. Our group dispersed and my group spent the journey to Three Bridges talking tips about mobile phones, renting rooms to foreign students, singing groups - and the Naked Bike Ride.

12-July-2009 Start of ride. Christs Hospital

Leon joined the train at Hassocks. We made an easy change at Three Bridges, and met Jenny at Christ's Hospital.

A blue wheelie bin served as the photographer for the group photo, Leon putting it on a time delay so he could saunter over to join the rest of us.

We immediately took the Downs Link track through dappled sunlit woods which led into a quiet undulating lane. In no time at all we were at Dragon's Green, our lunch stop the George and Dragon. It was tough for vegetarians at the pub as the menu paid lip service to them. Everyone praised the chips as we sat at two tables apart from each other - one sunny, one shady. Our lunchtime conversation consisted of stories from the past, jokes played on friends and colleagues, Leon's boy scouting days - and the Naked Bike Ride!

Lunch at the Sunny Table

A short ride took us to Shipley Windmill where we spent nearly an hour on a very comprehensive tour that included a video twenty odd years old dating from the time the Friends of Shipley Windmill took on its repair and maintenance. It was a fascinating tour of a structure that was made of, and included several types of wood – Douglas fir, pitch pine, oak, hornbeam, ash and mahogany. The other elements of the windmill were an intricate cog structure of iron (and hornbeam), and millstone grit grinding stones. There was an air of sadness among the guides as their tenure was coming to an end due so the great grandson of Hilaire Belloc, who owned the windmill, inexplicably refusing to renew their lease.

Hopper, shoe, millstone and bell

We now became two groups - one heading back to Christ's Hospital - the larger group of six heading for Wiston Tea Rooms. A short off road track took us over a bridge where we spotted water lilies in the slow moving water. We joined a small road that took us to Ashington. The headwind became stronger as we joined the larger Horsham road but before long the tearooms appeared and we sat out in the lovely sheltered sunny garden where we talked about diets and which way to go home - and possibly the Naked Bike Ride.

A small change of plan cut off a few miles. We backtracked a few yards to Spithandle Lane which provided more dappled sunlight and headed for Steyning. There were a couple of hills and a continuing headwind which eased when we took the Downs Link. We passed a group of stately swans who got rather flustered by a small dinghy and canoe passing them. We splashed through puddles on a track lined with endless purple Budleia in bloom.

On reaching Shoreham station we subdivided again, Joyce, Sue and Tessa choosing the train, Alice, Leon and Roger adding a few more miles to the 24 we had clocked up by cycling back to Brighton.

Shipley Windmill

A big thank you to Jeff for suggesting that we visit Shipley Windmill, a beautiful structure fascinatingly explained by its Friends, and to Jim and Leon for planning and guiding us on the day.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

38. An encounter with 'Lady Cyclists' and Swiftsure urges NCU affiliation.

From 'Swiftsure' Cycling Notes, The Clarion, 6 April 1895

Last Saturday the writer and another turned up for the run of the Clarion CC Manchester and District; true it was a wretched day and required no little resolution to venture forth: but judge our surprise when some miles from home we passed the Manchester Lady Cyclists – seven in number, slithering awheel through the slush and rain and weren't they a merry party? I fancy I can still hear their bantering chatter and hearty laughs at each other's mishaps.

There was non of the 'butterfly-wait-until-the-road's-dry' about them. They were out to enjoy themselves, and you bet a little bit of mud wasn't going to stop them. It is also a fact that they were the largest party of cyclists we met out that day.

* * * * * * *

In the same edition Swiftsure noted criticisms of the National Cyclists' Union (NCU) for neglecting the interests of 'the ordinary road rider' and concentrating on racing. He rejected this:

If we only take the number of danger boards erected last year we should have ample proof that such an assertion is baseless.

* * *

Therefore I consider that any club which has the requisite number of members (25) stultifies its own existence if it refuses to join the local centre of the Union and accept whatever benefits that membership already gives. I note that the Birmingham Clarion Cycling Club joined there centre a fortnight since.

Next time. 'Unattached cyclists' and accommodation at the first Easter Meet


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