Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  




Dear fellow members and friends

17 May 2010

Another bumper issue! So partly for that reason and partly because I'm more than usually busy at the moment - not up to but over the ears - I've decided to skip my usual 'Clarion cycling in the 1890s' episode and substitute instead Michael Walker's piece of Clarion history - with additional introductory comments from me - which I held over last time. More on Dieppe - and future weekend possibilities plus Roger's report on the latest cycle forum meeting.

Future Rides … for the rest of 2010
Sundays 13, 27* June; 11, 25 July (Leon); 8, 22 August; 5, 19* September; 3*, 17 October; 7, 21* November; 5*, 19 December.

Offers to organise/lead rides are more than welcome. The ones marked with a * are ones I already know I can't make – and there are likely to be a few others. Jim was going to do 27 June but finds he can't make it. Offers please!

Brighton Festival Open Houses
Tessa and others will be at 38 Lorna Road, Hove
Fred will be showing prints at the Dragonfly House, 48 Ditchling Road


The Next Ride

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

Sorry about getting the date wrong last time – only a month out! Only just noticed – hope it didn't confuse anyone.

Sunday 30 May 2010
Upper Beeding

We've always had lunch in the past at The Bridge – the pub by the river and originally that was my intention this year. But Bob tipped me off that - sadly - the pub is now closed, seemingly permanently. A great shame. Bob suggested we try The Rising Sun at the eastern end of the village instead. So that's what we'll do. It will mean a slight change in the route.

We have 4 members who live in Upper Beeding - the Beeding Sub-Section we might call them. It would be nice to meet all or any of them at the pub.

We'll follow the usual route to just before the Old Toll Bridge then the Coastal Link/Downs Link track to Bramber and instead of crossing the footbridge over the river we'll take the path to the 'Cement Works' road. There's a very short stretch of busy road up to the traffic island at the start of the bypass and then a somewhat less busy road for about half a mile to Rising Sun at Upper Beeding for lunch (in the garden if it's warm enough). See Food Notes below. For the return, as usual, we'll go through Upper Beeding and Bramber, take a stretch of the Coastal Link, cross onto the Coombes road near Botolphs and then go to Shoreham Airport for tea. And then back over the Toll Bridge and through suburban back streets to Brighton (or Hove).

Food Notes
What's on offer at the Rising Sun is less varied than we sometimes encounter (not necessarily a bad thing). Basically, on Sunday lunchtimes like a lot of pubs they do a 'Sunday Roast' - Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Pork - with ample portions of vegetables including very nice roast potatoes, at £6.95. The menu somewhat mysteriously refers to a possible 'vegetarian option'. I enquired and was told this was usually nut cutlets. Alternatives are cheese and pickle, tuna and mayo, prawn and marie rose sauce sandwiches (at £3.50) or generous cheese or ham ploughmans at £6.95. Soup is mentioned in 'starters' so no doubt that can be negotiated as a separate item too. I've undertaken to phone with numbers after we start (from Marrocco's).

Architecture notes
After the seafront and Shoreham Harbour we'll be passing near a number of medieval churches - including the two Romanesque-Gothic Transitional ones in Shoreham: St Mary de Haura and St Nicholas. Near the latter where we'll join the Coastal Link along the track of the old railway line, there's a very good view across the river of Lancing College Chapel, described by Ian Nairn in The Buildings of England of expressing perfectly 'that elusive dream of the Gothic Revival'.
There was a piece about Nairn in Saturday's Guardian review section. Jonathan Glancey, whose series of films in the footsteps of Nairn Outrage Revisited begins on Wednesday reminds us that it was Nairn who coined the word 'Subtopia' Of Upper Beeding he (Nairn) says 'The most interesting building is not one of the oldest but a terrifying house called THE TOWERS, now a convent, on the road to Henfield'. It's now I think a private school and isn't too far from the Rising Sun.

At Bramber there are the ruins of the castle and what's left of St Mary's 15th-century house, and on the way back more survivals from the Middle Ages in the parish churches at Botolphs and (my favourite) the tiny 11th-century one at Coombes before we get at least a distant glimpse of the terminal at Shoreham Airport which was used in at least one episode of Poirot to impersonate a Croydon airport and has appeared in similar disguise on a number of occasions.

Meet 10.30 by Palace Pier. If you live at the Hove end I suggest joining us near the King Alfred - outside Marrocco's café on Kings Esplanade where the cycle track goes round the houses.
Distance: about 25/26 miles (Pier to Pier). Adjust according to where you live. We will be passing Shoreham station on the way back so anyone needing to could get the train for the final bit saving 6 or 7 miles.
Hills: Nearly as flat as the proverbial pancake except for a couple of small hills (we dodge the bigger one) on the Coombes road on the way back.
Off road: Seafront cycle path to (and from) the vicinity of Hove Lagoon, Coastal Link from Shoreham to Bramber and back as far as Botolphs.
Refreshments: Lunch at The Rising Sun. Tea stop at Shoreham Airport.

My mobile: 0789 985 1172

The Last Ride - Leon's Report

16 May 2010
Chichester / Emsworth Circular

The weather forecast said rain, heavy at times coming from the west. The morning started bright and sunny, raising the spirits and hopes that the day would be good and not soak us like the last ride two weeks earlier.

Clarion. Chichester 16 May 2010

I arrived on a train replacement bus from Hassocks, having phoned Roger to let him know that I was on my way and could arrive a few minutes later than expected. I was greeted by Roger with a pair of group 4 saver tickets and several Clarionettes, namely Sue Pringle, Suzanne, Anne and Mick.

Only moments later we were all aboard the Portsmouth train to Chichester. Arriving at Hove station we were joined by Sandra, a new rider but not a new member, she has been a member of the Clarion for two years and decided it was time to ride with us. The journey was vibrant with greetings and stories to tell each-other since we last met. Arriving at Chichester we met Angela and David, making our rider group nine in total.

Clarion. Chichester 16 May 2010

No time to waste, we set off westward toward Fishbourne on the cycleway and a short section of the Portsmouth road A259. Turning off the main road into Park Lane, no not the flamboyant London Street, this is a quiet lane with early may flower buds just breaking. A few metres later we entered a footpath off which we saw some beautiful ponies with their young. The colts looked about eight weeks or so, old. Many of them were laying flat out, we thought they must have been resting and just enjoying the warm, but weak sunshine.

Just around the next corner we entered the low tide road of Bosham. The tide was on its way in but the seaweed slime was still very wet from the last tide, laying deep in places along the road. We went around to the Church but no time to dally, we cycled on, back to the Portsmouth road and west toward Thorney Island. The turning to Thorney proved difficult to locate, so our leader carried on regardless, hoping to locate it at the next and the next left turnings. We didn't find the turning, but never mind, we were getting near to our lunch stop at Emsworth by now and the time was becoming short so we did a short divert into Thorney road and up Slipper road passing the Mill Pond and into Emsworth and there it was The Ship Inn, our lunch was near and we were eager to get it. The food was good and the ale was welcome. This Pub should be on the 'Visit again list'.

After a very pleasant break we set out again, this time heading east with a slight following breeze. On our way we stopped to look at the Lumley Mill. The building didn't seem to fit the traditional architecture of a water mill as it was rather grand and didn't sit close enough to the mill stream to work.

Clarion. Bluebells on Woodmancote Lane

Onto a bridleway with some loose stones, followed by a rather nice footpath running east within sound of the A27. At this point we became aware that the May blossom was fully open, the birds were singing and the slight drops of rain had stopped totally. Then onto a beautiful country lane, Woodmancote lane where we saw bluebells in such numbers that they covered the woodland at the side of the road for about a mile. All to soon we were back into Fishbourne and Chichester and near the end of our journey.

Clarion. Teatime at the canal, Chichester

One final pleasure awaited us, tea and cakes at the canal before catching our train back to Brighton. The weather forecast was delightfully wrong. None of us needed to adorn ourselves with waterproofs, in fact I think some of us got a slight tan. This ride was one of those that fall into the category of 'Wonderful'. Thanks go to Roger for arranging and leading this ride.


Cycle Forum Meeting 11 May 2010 - Roger reports

Here are the main points of interest from the Cycle Forum:

Automatic cycle counters are now in operation southbound on the A23 and A27 routes into Brighton; as you pass they tell you what number cyclist you are.

New local cycle maps will be published in June during Bike Week. Most of the tourist blurb in previous versions is replaced with useful information for cyclists.

There have been a number of collisions at the junction of Grand Avenue and Church Road so improvements for cyclists are likely.

At Ian's suggestion I raised problems with the westbound, contra-flow cycle lane in Kings Esplanade (near Marrocco's café). The main problem is traffic crossing the cycle lane from side streets. There is also a problem with illegal parking, but this has reduced following recent enforcement efforts. There was general agreement that the design / location of this cycle lane needs a re-think, but the cycling officer, Tracey Davidson doubts if funding could be found. She agreed to look at the possibility of improved signs and road markings at the junctions with the side roads.

A report has been prepared on cycling on the Undercliff Path but it is not publicly available. Council leader, Mary Mears will meet local councillors to discuss it.

The plan for a continuous cycle lane along the Old Shoreham Road is now pretty well abandoned; the Forum is writing to Geoffrey Theobald to complain.

There is funding for transport improvements in the Shoreham Harbour area; the Forum will ask for better routing of National Cycle Route 2 near Hove Lagoon.

There has been concern about the impact on cyclists of a new flyover to be built near the entrance to Stanmer Park. Assurances have been given that a toucan crossing will be provided for pedestrians and cycles.

New parking plans for Elm Grove will involve several roads becoming one-way, including Bonchurch Rd, which some members know well. The Forum is pressing for all roads to remain two-way for cyclists.

Cycling Town funds will be available again this year; the main spending areas are:
Continuing work to improve route signs, for cyclists especially improved routes to the South Downs.

Continuing provision of cycle parking on streets and at schools.

Investigation of a possible 'Green Wave' route on the Lewes Road. This is a scheme from Scandinavia, which keeps cyclists moving by using traffic lights to give them priority.

Investigate the feasibility of cycle wheel ramps on stairs at London Road, Moulsecoomb and Preston Park stations.

Create cycle access at the junction of Station Street and Trafalgar Street.

Small grants for cycle-related community groups including the Bike Train.

Improvements for cyclists and pedestrians on the seafront near the West Pier; this area missed out on previous widening of the cycle lane pending completion of the i360 project, but the new plan will go ahead regardless.


Dieppe Weekend - a report on the Friday's activities by Amanda and some future possibilities - a message from Jim

Friday 23 April - Amanda reports

Superb organisation by Joyce and a combination of car, train and pedal power brought our Group - Joyce, Anne, Mick, Annie, John, Angela, Jim, John, Fred, Tessa, Jenny, Angelika, Nick and Amanda - together at Newhaven Ferry terminal by 8.30 for what may be the first Brighton and Hove Clarion international adventure. Everyone that is apart from poor Nick who took the adage about it being better to travel hopefully than to arrive a little too seriously … arriving at the ferry at 9.15 he was not allowed to board and despite Joyce interceding with the ferry commissar the ferry sailed without him, to our great regret. He manfully re-booked onto the night crossing and spent a day with his new bicycle in Newhaven, Brighton and Seaford awaiting the next departure.

At the ferry terminal, Newhaven

On board the ferry our cheery party broke into groups of snoozers, eaters, readers and gossipers. Anne revealed a gift for baking, sharing delicious home made banana flapjacks. Jim began to learn some rather unsavoury French expressions, at one point claiming to be pregnant with food.

Four hours passed quickly, the sun shone upon us as we disembarked. Peter Avis - expat character, blogger and author of the delightful Taste of Dieppe booklet - kindly met us at the terminal and led our bicycle procession into Dieppe and up to our hotel, L'Etap. They welcomed us and were kind to the bicycles, setting a 'people in phone box' type record by storing 13 bikes in their understairs cupboard.


From there, we dispersed to various events - some to art galleries, others for seafront walks. Cafes were visited. Five hardy souls on finding the striking swimming baths closed for repair, braved the chilly sea and pebbly beach for the first sea swim of the year. (We deserved medals, but made do with coffee and gaufres.) Pre-dinner drinks were taken outdoors at a seafront café - Le Bar O'Metre - under the white cliffs at the western end of the town.

Dieppe sea crawl & tulips spring 10 001

Dinner arrangements were debated in Clarion style and after some vigorous bidding we settled on seafood at the New Haven, with our vegetarian wing going off piste to order omelettes. The restaurant staff coped admirably with the challenge of 13 diners descending upon them and we almost managed to fill the room, forming three groups to enjoy a wonderful range of food and some excellent gossip. A result of this was the revelation that it was Jenny's birthday which was then celebrated in some style.

The final event of the evening was the arrival of Nick who crossed the channel arriving at 3.30am, to be met by Amanda and taken on a slightly circuitous night tour of Dieppe before finally arriving at the hotel for a well-earned rest some 20 hours after he first left home!


And Jim writes:

Dear Clarionettes and Clarionistas
Following the recent very successful Dieppe weekend ride, I think it would be really good if we could plan to have one long weekend ride every year. However it will need planning, and whoever plans it will need plenty of time, so we ought to decide soon whether we are going to have one next year, and if so, what time of year, and where to.
On the way back from Dieppe, some of us kicked around a few ideas for this. Here are the options we discussed:
1. There was talk of Ireland, which would be a very ambitious idea and would need lots of planning, if not a feasibility study as well.
2. Something I discussed a few months back with Amanda, which would feature the Milton Keynes area, where I have done a bit of riding; while MK is not in itself a very attractive town, it is at least cycle-friendly, and you can ride along the Grand Union Canal and see things like an old brick kiln (and of course the concrete cows). There is also quite a nice ride along the river Ouzel from Fenny Stratford station; and there is a sweet little youth hostel at Bradwell.
3. I also suggested Oxford, which I know very well but have not ridden in (although Angelika has, and says it is very nice). Of course there is the river Thames there, and rivers tend to be good for cycling along because they don't go uphill. If we went for that one, I could offer a walking tour of the city/colleges etc on the Sunday. Oxford youth hostel is very modern and very large, so it would be the obvious place to stay.
4. Then there is always the possibility of a return to the New Forest – I discussed this a bit with Bill Edgington of Dorset Clarion during the Easter ride. I gather there was a ride to the New Forest a few years back, so this one would benefit from prior knowledge, and there is also a convenient youth hostel there.
Wherever we went, it would be nice to link up with local Clarionettes. However that would probably only be possible for option 4, as there aren't Clarion sections in the other areas as far as I know.
Could people write to me ( with their thoughts about these or any other options they might want to suggest? Do also comment on the time of year. Our last two weekend rides have been in April, and that has worked quite well - it is not easy planning a ride that requires a weekend train service and also a group booking at a youth hostel, as I discovered last year; but at least April is not 'high season' as long as one avoids the Easter weekend itself (but maybe April is a bit too close to the Clarion Easter Meet though?).

Clarion History

Our old friend Michael Walker has sent me the following piece about the pre-1914 involvement in the Clarion C.C. of Charlie Openshaw and Harry Pollitt. Pollitt (1890–1960), of course, is well known mainly as the general secretary of the British communist party from 1929 to 1956 apart from 1939-1941 when - his finest hour in many people's view - he refused to entirely go along with opposing the war against Nazi Germany during Stalin's notorious alliance with Hitler.

This probably, in part, accounts for the fact that he was viewed with some affection by many who had no sympathy for the CP or its ideology and policies. One indication of this is the song about him that appeared on the 1961 LP The Slightly Fabulous Limeliters. They were, and I think still are, an American folk (or as purists might insist 'folk') group – bit like The Kingston Trio but with a sense of humour. Where they got their Harry Pollitt song from I haven't a clue. If you have, please let me know.

Anyway, the song, obviously written many years before, begins with the (very fictional) death of Pollitt:

Harry Pollitt was a worker - one of Lenin's lads.
He was foully murdered by those counter-revolutionary cads.

Harry then presents himself at the pearly gates, asks to speak to 'Comrade God' and then negotiates his way in:

"Who are you?" said Saint Peter, "Are you humble and contrite?"
"I'm a friend of Lady Astor," "Then come in, that's quite all right."

For his further 'posthumous' activities - organising the angels and bringing them out on strike and so forth - Google 'Harry Pollitt lyrics'. Pollitt joined the CPGB via Sylvia Pankhurst's Workers' Socialist Federation, which became the Communist Party (British Section of the Third International), which merged with the CPGB early in 1921 - though Pankhurst herself was soon expelled for refusing to hand over her paper The Workers' Dreadnought which would have been wound up very quickly had she complied. [For this, see my piece on Pankhurst's path to 'Left Communism'" in Ian Bullock and Richard Pankhurst (eds) Sylvia Pankhurst. From Artist to Anti-Fascist (Macmillan, 1992) and my The Myth of Soviet Democracy and the British Left which is due to be published later this year. For Pollitt I recommend the biography by my friend Kevin Morgan. (End of plugs!)]

Here's Michael's contribution: (I've checked with him - it really was Charlie Openshaw … of Openshaw! Ian)

Charlie Openshaw was a close friend of the young Harry Pollitt. He was engineer, literature secretary at the Openshaw Socialist Society (established in 1906) and a founding member of the Communist Party.

Harry Pollitt referred to Charlie Openshaw in "Serving my time" as overseeing the "finest literature stall to be found anywhere in the country at the time".

Charlie was ten years older than Harry. "He was a lad in knickerbockers when I first knew him," he said. "And he wasn't all that much older before he started public speaking."

Openshaw states: "We were in the Clarion Cycling Club together. Off we'd go on our bikes into the country. We'd put up fly posters round about, choose a spot, and hold a meeting. We didn't always get many listening, but by God, we enjoyed it."

Harry recalls his summer Clarion speaking tours of 1912 and 1913:

Meeting at the Openshaw Socialist Hall – the greeting "Boots", the answer "Spurs" – they went into villages of Cheshire and at a suitable spot would dismount and led by Harry Fisher or Jim Crossley would sing:

In Youth as I lay dreaming, I saw a country fair,
Where plenty shed its blessings round and all had equal share.
Where poverty's sad features were never, never seen
And idlers in brotherhood would meet with scant esteem.

The unaccustomed sound of singing brought people to stand around and Harry would then make a ten minute speech, they would wind up by singing "England Arise". Returning in the evening they repeated the performance in another village.

A favourite destination for the Clarion cyclists was Handforth Clarion Club House opened in September 1903. Manchester Clarion Cycling Club had been established on Wednesday 16th January 1895 with its Secretary being Mr R. Dawson, 697 Rochdale Road, Manchester, and Mr C. Ellinger, 53 Palmerston Street, Moss Side, Manchester.

Harry Pollitt states: "I have heard a lot of scoffing at fellowship" ... "but in this club it was reality which made hard, poverty stricken lives much brighter." Harry Pollitt even attended the Clarion's famous Easter meet in York (March 1913) with one thousand Clarion cyclists, Harry on the Sunday speaking to a huge audience from a Clarion van.

The Openshaw Socialist Society met at the Openshaw Socialist Hall, Margaret Street off the Ashton old road opposite the Alhambra. Its construction by voluntary labour began in March 1907 and it was officially opened on July 20th by John Hodge MP (Smelters Union).

At the opening three inscribed stones were laid at ground level, that of the Openshaw Socialist Society to the singing of "England arise", that of the Clarion cyclists to the "Red flag", that of the Clarion vocal union (Choir) to the "Comrades' song of hope".

The Openshaw Socialist Hall was rectangular, the long side facing on Margaret Street, the elevation pleasant and dignified, presenting a series of arched windows and a handsome doorway on the right topped by a stone inscribed "Socialist Hall 1907".

The visitors entered a vestibule from which rooms opening on each side ended in a double stair leading to the big hall on the floor above. It could seat 400 and had an excellent parquet floor for dancing. Between the two entrances was a low platform, above a gallery ran the whole width of the building, on the opposite wall was a large painting by Walter Crane, with scrolls bearing the words "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman". The tall windows and high angled roof gave an exhilarating impression of light, space and elegance, the ample basement contained more rooms.

Charlie Openshaw along with the young Harry Pollitt polished the parquet floor of the Hall every Sunday morning.

Michael Walker


Daily Worker 11 July 1960
Harry Pollitt Kevin Morgan
Harry Pollitt John Mahon

^ top