Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  


Dear fellow members and friends

15 December 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – when we'll be seeing you out on a ride, I hope!

Some notes for members. (Which I hope won't mystify others – it does save me having to send out a separate message.)

I received no suggestions for motions or nominations for the national conference – so no on-line consultation or meeting will be necessary.

I've had another email from Peter Roscoe re the 2009 Easter Meet. He says 'All the block booking at the Old Mill has been taken up and some of the remaining eight places have been taken.' So anyone else who wants to go needs to get on with booking – although Peter says there are some alternative places to stay not too far away. The Old Mill's 'phone number is 01706 822991.

Donald Lever (national membership secretary) has asked me to check the accuracy of our membership list as regards addresses etc. I'm doing my best but it would help enormously if anyone who hasn't received Boots and Spurs this year would let me know – it would suggest the address is wrong.

Planning rides

For me the most pleasing feature of 2008 is that I've been ride organiser on fewer occasions than in the past as Jim, Leon and Roger have taken on more. I'm grateful to them, but it doesn't have to stop there does it? Surely everyone has one ride they could propose?

As for me, for the moment at least I seem to have run out of new ideas. My general rule has to avoid doing the same ride more than once a year – but otherwise I think it's OK to repeat old rides. If you disagree you'll have to suggest some new ones, won't you?

In Jim's Christmas Social report (below) he mentions people who are 'looking for nice gentle rides to get back into practice'. I always try to go for flattish and shortish rides to start the year off with – but sometimes the rail maintenance schedules make this very difficult if not impossible. But I have got one in mind for 11 January featuring the Pevensey Levels – and you will not find a 'gentler' ride than the New Year's Day 'Brunch Ride' – anywhere on the planet I suspect.

The other early 2009 rides will be on Sundays 25 January, 8 (Jim), 22 February, 8, 22 March

Any more volunteers – especially for 22 March when I may be away?

Do read Brian Hutton's piece on the past and present of the Preston Park cycling 'velodrome' (after Jim's report below).

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club in 1894 - Latest episode at the end of the Circular as usual.



The Next Ride

Thursday 1 January 2009

Carat's is a popular venue on New Year's Day. The weather wasn't so good last time, but in 2007 year we managed to sit outside in the sun! So fingers crossed. I've enquired about the possibility of booking a table but they say it's their busiest day of the year and they can't do that. We've been lucky in the past – partly because we manage to get there before the rush peaks – so a prompt start, please. But there'll be a (car-bound) advance guard whose mission will be to try to secure enough space for us before our arrival.

As on previous occasions I'm hoping that this easiest of starts to the year may tempt out some of those we seldom see – or even have yet to see.

Meet by the Palace Pier at 10.30 a m – or along the route at e g Maroccos. Only about 9 miles – plus from home and back to the Pier.

Ian's mobile number is 07770743287


[More photos on Flickr]

7 December 2008
Clarion Christmas Social

This was a game of three halves (at least), and the personnel came and went as the day progressed. Now read this carefully, or you will get very confused, like me.

1. Pétanque (pronounced pétanque) or boules (pronounced boules)

Clarion CC Bt'n group at the West pier Brighton.07/12/2008

Angela, Anne, Ian, Jeff, Joyce, Leon, Mick, Roger, Sue Pringle, Terry and myself arrived at the pétanque pitch and Roger explained the rules of the game. Unfortunately Jeff and I arrived at the wrong pétanque pitch, so we missed all that. However, Jeff had played before (albeit by different rules) and I picked it up … eventually. We then split into four teams of 2 ¾ people each and proceeded to play.

Joyce's elegant ball-throwing stance

It goes like this. You throw the jack (pronounced jack) or cochon (pronounced cochon) and then get your balls out and throw them at it. Of course it isn't a real cochon, and it isn't named Jack. After all the balls have been thrown, the nearest ball to the jack wins the game, and any others that are nearer to it than the nearest of the other side's balls also score. You also have to shrug your shoulders frequently and make suitable Gallic noises in your throat, although you don't actually get any extra points for this.

To win the match you need 13 points, except that we couldn't decide if it was the best of 13 or the first to reach 13. Angela, Anne and Ian's team solved this by winning 13-0, with Anne the hero(ine), winning 8 or 9 points despite not having played before. The other heat was more balanced, and went to 9-all before Joyce and Leon streaked ahead to pick up the last 4 points. Joyce and Leon were the smallest team, since we decided after a long debate not to actually cut people up to make the teams the same size, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in style – both displaying elegant ball-throwing stances.

Is he going to throw both together

By the time this marathon heat was decided, some of the other players had got bored and Anne had actually left to go to the cinema. But reinforcements had arrived in the form of Brian and Mary Hutton, Suzanne, Sheila and Sue Bullock, who cheered the players on along with a growing crowd of onlookers. Fred also put in a brief cameo appearance, cutting a fine silhouette up on the prom – but was that a ukulele in his pocket, or was he just pleased to see us?

The two winning teams were then supposed to play each other, but we were all hungry by now and so we went to lunch.

2. Lunch at Al Fresco

Clarion xmas lunch

At lunch I sat next to Brian, who had been in the Clarion since 1948, and his wife Mary. It was fascinating to meet them and hear about the old days. Miraculously, Anne had managed to return after watching not just one but several films, but we had lost Sue Pringle and Terry. Fred again put in a brief showing but missed the food. Joyce gave a nice speech and thanked all the ride leaders, and we thanked her, and then it was time to go on to the next stage, Tessa's Open House.

3. Tessa's Open House

Joyce, Jeff and I cycled up to Lorna Road, and this enabled me to inspect the high-kerbed cycle lane that had been mentioned at the Cycle Forum. (See my report in the 17 November circular.) I have to say it didn't look too hazardous to me, and I like the idea of segregating the cycle lane off from the cars so that the b****rs can't park in it.

Arriving at Tessa's we were just in time to miss the increasingly elusive Fred, who had just left. However, it was nice to see not only Tessa but also Angelika, and also to drink the mulled wine and eat the mince pies and make suitably approving noises at the lovely works of art. Sue P and Terry reappeared, having been Christmas shopping. Soon Angela, Leon, Roger and Suzanne also arrived. Leon spent ages looking at Brenda's etchings and talking about the shapes of men's bottoms.

Tessa's pots

It was also good to see Linda and Helen, neither of whom I'd seen since summer 2007. Helen is looking for nice gentle rides to get back into practice, so there's a hint for anyone organising a ride in 2009.

Thanks to Joyce for organising the pétanque and the lunch, and to Tessa for the mince pies and mulled wine and art. It would be good to play with our balls again some time; maybe we could hold the final on a non-Clarion Sunday in the new year?


This is destined – together with a photo – for the history page of our website. But in the meantime it makes an excellent postcript to Jim's report. He mentions Brian's account of earlier days. During the conversation Angela mentioned that the children at her school enjoyed visiting the 'velodrome' in Preston Park. Brian then told us a great deal about the history of the cycle track and said he had a photo of an event there c 1950. I asked him if he'd write us a little piece and lend us the photo to put on our history page. And quick as a flash – no, even quicker than a flash - he has done this.

Brian is our one current member who was in the original Brighton Clarion and is cycling correspondent for the Argus. If you've recently joined us you may like to have a look at some of the other pieces about cycling in Brighton more than half a century ago which feature on our history page. That will do for the intro – so here he is on

The Glory Days of Sussex Track Cycling
by Brian Hutton

Track cycling is booming in Britain thanks to the efforts of the Great Britain team who won a host of medals in the 2008 World Championships and the Olympics. Track riders such as Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton, and road racer Nicole Cook, have scooped the headlines and justifiably so.

But the packed indoor Manchester Velodrome is a far cry from Brighton's 'velodrome', which is twice the size of most tracks, has very little in the way of banking and surrounds the cricket pitch at Preston Park. But racing has been going on there from around 1900. Go there on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm between the beginning of May through to the second week in August and there you will find local riders from around Sussex as well as visiting riders from London who put on a good couple of hours of free entertainment taking part in the Sussex Cycle Racing League's meetings, cheered on by their enthusiastic supporters.

Yet, although it may seem hard to believe now, in the immediate years after the Second World War and into the early 1950s, 5000 or more people used to pack the Preston Park track to watch the big open meetings which drew world stars such as Reg Harris, Arie Van Vleet, and Sid Patterson to contest the thrilling Sprinters' Grand Prix events. On one occasion a track meeting clashed with a Brighton & Hove Albion home game and it was the cycling which drew the biggest gate! And several thousand fans used to regularly support the Sussex League meetings because the local riders, such as "Tiger" Cooper, Dennis Sutch, Colin Whittingham, and Alan Limbrey were hugely talented and knew how to play to the crowds.

Dennis Sutch and Colin Whittingham

Dennis Sutch and Colin Whittingham - whose signatures you can see at the corner - celebrating victory at a meeting in around 1950

So why not come along next summer and see for yourselves this exciting sport? Sussex is producing top riders again, such as 16-year-old prodigy Felix English, who two years running has humbled the older riders by winning the senior track league and Peter Mitchell, who won a gold medal in the 2007 Junior Championships in Mexico. Who knows – with your support Brighton may one day have its own indoor velodrome and we can recapture the glory days again!

The Last Ride - Anne's Report

14 December 2008
Berwick Bleak Midwinter; morning punctuated with puncture and afternoon punctuated by yet another puncture.

Our late arrival at Brighton station called for a hasty realignment of the groupsave and senior tickets. Joyce was bold enough to ask for a refund on the 2 seniors, as Mick and I [Anne] made a 2nd 4 with Leon, to Suzanne, Roger, Jeff and Alice. As the 2-carriage Ashford International train pulled into platform 8, Sue rushed up, having had no breakfast. More cyclists got on at Lewes, as Joyce finally sorted out the financing of the groupsave bargain tickets;- £2.90 for half an hour's return journey, in best trains on offer this side of the Channel, smooth, swift and cosy without claustrophobia, though well used. The 2 cyclists from Lewes warned us that last week 4 of them had fallen off on black ice, as we alighted at Berwick, with no sign of any sunny intervals, as promised by BBC weather forecasts. There'd been rain in Brighton in the morning and a few bright patches, but North of the Downs looked decidely dull and dank. However, Ian was there to meet and greet us and Leon, being the only one in possession and control of a camera phone, took the group photo for the archives.


Sue had come in such a rush that she had no head gear, but, lo and behold! A wayside stall sold cheap hand-made hats and scarves right opposite the station. She was able to buy a charming knitted purple scarf for 50p [in the fuzzy wool like Angela's super red scarf of the Xmas dinner], a bargain at any time, but a life saver in the chilly Northerly wind that now assailed us. On the train Jeff had shown us his collection of old postcards of the Volks railway which he had exhibited at Brighton Museum, showing the horse and carriages, the angry seas crashing over the track on its old trajectory over the sea by the Banjo Groyne and the charming light effect ones that shone. Leon had given Jeff his previous mobile phone and carefully explained how to use it all, putting in all our phone numbers. Mick also updated his mobile with Jeff and Leon's numbers. These were all to come in useful as the day's adventures unfolded.

We saw more cyclists than cars on the quiet, hedge-lined roads and more horses than cars. There were little wrens darting into the hedges and huge mansions with their own lakes and even one with its own cannon and some Tudor homes; one with a thatched roof so steep that it almost reached the ground on the East side, whereas on the West face the thatch was covered in green moss. A flock of geese flew overhead, doubtless heading for sunnier climes, as Suzanne and Roger were to do that night , as they head off to Madiera for a week early on Monday morning. For them it was the last dark day of the year but the rest of us have another 7 before the solstice and The Burning of the Clocks ceremony on Brighton Seafront. At least this year we had the thrill of a brilliant new moon, followed by the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and moon, then the nearest and biggest full moon for 15 years [perigee on 12th]. Anyway, we wanted to catch the 2.48pm home in the light so presssed on apace through Ripe and on towards Chalvington, looking for the Yew Tree.

At the crossroads to the A22 we halted and saw that we were only 8 and Roger and Jeff were missing. It was only twenty to twelve so too early for the 2 nearby pubs to be open. Even the petrol station on the other side of the hurtling A22 offered no facilities to those of us travellers in need. Leon tried phoning and Ian rode back to Roger and Jeff who were having trouble with a puncture on Jeff's bike. Seven of us headed off to the pub which was another 10 minutes or so down a quiet road. The Yew Tree had a lovely warm fire which we huddled round and ordered our food from, until we were overcome with the smoke issuing from it. We moved to a side room with a large table, big enough for 10 and awaited our broccoli soups and Sunday roasts – child's portions a steal at £5 for super meal with loads of tasty vegetables. Joyce mentioned that she had 2 inner tubes with her as the 3 repairers finally arrived and ordered their meals, explaining what had happened by the wayside.


Sue's 'child's roast' brought to mind Swift's 'Modest Proposal' for the solving of the hunger of the Irish peasants and led to talk of children and grandchildren. We were joined at our meal by a dear little black dog, to whom Sue offered her left-overs via the waitress, should the dog be allowed such treats. The meals were all so ample that, though delicious, there was quite a bit of left-overs, but even so, Anne and Sue were able to show the benefits of their yoga training by escaping from the centre of the table in order not to disturb the latecomers - Roger and Jeff - and allow them to finish their meal in peace, by limboing under the table, which Leon was able to capture on his phone camera, if it's not a blur of Sue's bottom. Joyce told us about her choir practice after the ride where O Little town of Bethlehem's verse "How still we see thee lie," would be replaced by the reality of tanks that go charging by. I initiated a debate on whether the Palestinians should have the right to return, then we all returned to our bikes.


Leon, who had a brand new bendy bike, was able to pump up Jeff's semi-repaired tyre, with the saddle stem of his brilliant new Dahon[like Amanda's]. Having done over 9 miles to reach the pub, only 5 miles remained to reach Berwick station and hopes of the earlier 1.48 train, so Mick, Jeff and Joyce steamed off and the rest followed. I was near the end but trying to keep up with Mick. However, as we passed a sign saying Berwick 2 ½ miles and Leon rode up to talk to me, my bike shuddered and I pulled over, only to see that my back tyre was punctured. Alice and Suzanne stopped too, as Leon tried to pump it up. All seemed well until he removed the pump and the air all fizzed out by the valve again. Leon phoned Mick and Ian rode off in hot pursuit to try to claim one of Joyce's spare inner tubes. He was marooned the wrong side of the level crossing, but Leon contacted Mick before he could get the 1.48 train, and managed to grab the necessary from Joyce.

I took to running along pushing my bike for a mile or so to keep warm and get nearer to the station, in case no more cycling was possible. Fortunately, Ian, then Mick and Roger came back and helped Leon to mend the tyre. First Leon's spanner was broken by my too tightly fixed back wheel, but fortunately Roger had another. Suzanne and Alice [who had been at work all night] had stayed too in solidarity and support. So, Fellowship is Life and a team effort got me back in the saddle and back to the Berwick Inn, hot drinks all round and the promised 2.48 train was caught by the remaining 7 with Ian waving goodbye from the opposite side of the track. Our previous CTC cyclists were already on board, but the ever accommodating Ashford International took us comfortably home, where it rained again an hour or so later.

The weather may have been bleak, but the fellowship was fantastic and thanks to Ian for planning the ride and going the extra miles to ensure we all enjoyed the peace of the Susssex country lanes and ancient villages with hospitable pubs and returned safely from the last Clarion ride of 2008.


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

23. Cycling parades again – and Swiftsure takes steps to create a Manchester CCC

Still on the Clarion, 8 November 1894. Swiftsure's 'Cycling Notes' began that week:

The O' Groomie did not send me an account of the Birmingham cycle parade, but in reading the accounts thereof in the various cycling papers, I see that the Clarion Cycling Club were down as having taken part in it.

It is rather late to say much about it now but it seems to have been – numerically, and in point of interest and spectacle – a greater show than that lately held in Manchester.

These parades are likely to become an annual affair in many towns. Let us hope that the Clarion C.C. appears in the accounts of all of them.

After this, Swiftsure's 'Cycling Notes' seems to have disappeared for a couple of weeks. When it reappeared there was much on a couple of cycling shows – especially the Stanley Cycling Show which was reported on also by the Bounder – not entirely to everyone's satisfaction as we will see in the next episode. And on 1 December, Swiftsure got down again to addressing the desirability of Clarion clubs spreading.

It is quite a long time since I heard from some of the Clarion C.Cs. Are there not more being formed in some of our towns? The Manchester I.L.P Wheelers appear to be almost non-existent at the present day. Why not form a strong Clarion C.C in Manchester? It is time to begin if we would have it a success. I shall be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to join one. Letters or postcards addressed to 'Swiftsure', Clarion Office, 81 Corporation Street, Manchester will find me. If I see there will be sufficient support for such a club, I will take steps towards calling a meeting for the purpose of forming it.

A fortnight later Swiftsure was able to report:

I have received several replies to my appeal for names to form a Clarion Cycling Club in Manchester, and shall take the necessary steps to call a meeting at an early date
My own ideas are that such a club should be in no way political or exclusive, but more for the purpose of fostering the spirit of comradeship and sense of equality which should pervade all Clarionettes. It should not exclude those who are not of our way of thinking, especially since many of them are young men who might be influenced by contact with real Socialists.
Again, I am not favourable to such a club being used mainly – if at all- for the purpose of distributing leaflets, holding meetings, or similar propaganda work.
Of course, I don't want to say that these efforts at 'propaganda on bicycles' are not praiseworthy, but many of us work hard in various other ways for the good of the cause, and I look forward to my 'wheel' as a means of carrying me away for a time – both in my thoughts and surroundings – from the stress and misery which is all around us.
For mercy's sake, let us now and then try to live and feel the pleasure which should be always ours.
However, I am only one, and I don't want to 'boss' or say how such a club must be run.
I shall abide by the decisions of the majority and work to make it a success.
Which is the next place to organise a Clarion C.C.? Couldn't a strong one be formed in London?

Next time – More support for a Manchester Clarion CC and the Birmingham CC's 'Smoker'.

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