|Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club|
Dear fellow members and friends
17 February 2006
I hope everyone received my last message with the AGM minutes etc attached. Let me know if not.
As reported at the AGM we had 26 paid-up members at the start of the year. I've had subscriptions or – just as good, messages confirming intention to pay me when they see me – from 16 members (including the 3 people who joined at the end of 2005). I know that one member is out of the country at the moment – which leaves 9 I'd still like to hear from. If you haven't done so already please reply to this circular with an email saying (I hope) 'count me in for 2006' or words to that effect. I intend to pay all our national subs in one go at the beginning of March – which is approaching rapidly!
And if you're a 'friend' rather than a 'member' – how's about it? Download a membership form and follow the instructions there or e mail me and I'll post you one.
As well as the details of the next rides and the report of the last one, this circular includes the long-awaited details of Brian Hutton's 'super-hilly' training ride from the 1950s and some more about Clarion members involvement in the Spanish Civil War.
The Next Rides
Sunday 12 February
Neil, Joyce and Ian ready for any weather
Single-file through the Pevensey Levels
Ian consults the map
Back on track
Across the muddy bridleway
Herstmonceux Castle through the gloom
Up the other side
The highly secure Science Centre (from the bridle path)
With some relief we rejoined the main road and decided to get lunch at the next pub we passed. This turned out to be the Horseshoe Inn at Windmill Hill. The chalkboards outside suggested that we might be restricted to Sunday roast. Joyce and Ian debated whether to carry on to the next pub but the lure of shelter got the better of us and we were rewarded with a decent bowl of soup.
The mock-Tudor splendour of the Horseshoe Inn
With the rain persisting, we headed back over some hilly roads eventually rejoining the Cuckoo trail just north of Hailsham. We dodged the dog walkers and counted down the miles to Polegate. Ian headed for the car and Fred, Joyce and myself headed home on the train which was delayed because of an earlier fatality – a grim end to the day.
This ride will be one to recall on a hot sunny ride in the summer, sat out in a pub garden – 26 miles (including the three-mile detour on the Levels!) and, as Joyce pointed out to me, the whole ride was completed in the rain.
The Old Brighton Section – Brian's Weekly Training Ride (c 1950)
'Here are the details of my "secret weapon" during my racing days – the tough circuit I devised to train on. I usually had to go round solo as other riders thought it was far too tough [surprise! Surprise! IB] and no race circuits were as hard. As a result I actually came to like hills instead of fearing them as may riders did. I saw them as a place to apply pressure and break away rather than just hanging on! The circuit sounds a long way but I think it was only about 35 miles and I used to top up the mileage by finishing with extra laps round a town-centre circuit
I only used to do this super-hilly riding once a week. Other nights I used to go out with groups of riders and have really fast riding over more conventional routes. If you rode over the hilly route more than once a week you probably would have lost all your ability to sprint and so forth. But once a week definitely helped to develop my hill climbing.'
[It's interesting that Brian's second circuit (Elm Grove/Wilson Avenue) featured both in the two Wincanton Classic races in 1990 and 1991 and also at the end of the Dover-Brighton stage of the 1994 Tour de France. Great minds clearly do think alike!]
You'll remember me passing on an extract from a letter from Charles Jepson, the National Secretary towards the end of last year The key bit was; 'Last week we re-formed a Clarion Section at the Bolton Wood Socialist Club, one of the few remaining truly Socialist Clubs in the country. One of that Section's first actions was to pledge to produce a large painted "trade union style" banner in memory of Ray Cox (Southampton Clarion) and Roy Watts (Portsmouth Clarion) who fell defending the democratically elected government of Spain against the forces of fascism.'
Since then I have received material from Michael Walker about other Clarion members involved in Spain at that time. Michael tells me his sources were issues of the Daily Worker in 1946. I've edited the texts a little to avoid unnecessary repetition.
'Among the first to go were Joe Boyd and Fred McMahon, both members of the Socialist Party group within the Northern Ireland Labour Party – the local equivalent of the ILP in Britain. Volunteering for the Scottish Medical Unit, they arrived in Spain on October 1, 1936. On November 8, they were captured in no-man's land near Madrid, escaping summary execution only when Boyd treated a wounded fascist. After six days in custody, witnessing daily executions, they were brought to the Portuguese border and expelled from Spain.'
Meanwhile their plight had been raised in the House of Commons.
'Mr. T Jackson (Labour, Stirling and Clackmanon) asked the Foreign Secretary whether he was aware that Messrs MacMahon and Boyd, two members of the Scottish ambulance unit in Spain, had been captured by rebel forces in Madrid, and would he take steps to secure their release.
The two men were captured by General Franco's troops at Carabanchel, near Madrid, on Sunday morning last. McMahon was re-elected honorary secretary of the Belfast Clarion Cycling Club at the annual general meeting of the club in the Labour Hall, York Street,on Thursday evening. [the 12th] '
It would be nice to hear more about Joe and Fred and other 'Clarionettes' who went to Spain.