Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  


Dear fellow members and friends

1 January 2009

Earlier than ever thanks to Anne's speediest ever report.

Happy New Year!

Which reminds me --- Subscriptions!

For members, it's time to renew our subscriptions for 2009. The national subscriptions are now £6 for over 18s and £4 for those under that age. As far as the section is concerned, we still have enough in the kitty to see us through the year comfortably I'm assuming we are going to suspend our £1 sub again at the AGM. I have consulted the other members of the section committee about this. But we will discuss the longer term section finance including subs for future years at the meeting on Tuesday 3 February.

I want to try and make things as easy as possible both for Donald Lever, our national membership secretary - and for me. Collecting the subs is the one bit of Clarion work I find really something of a burden. Most people respond quickly as requested but there always seems to be a handful I have to pursue for weeks – which is not something I enjoy doing since I find it very embarrassing to seem to be hounding people for money. It's not that they don't want to rejoin – it's just that they keep forgetting to let me have the cash!

I hope it will be different this year I'm hoping with your co-operation to be able to send all the subs off in one batch at the end of January. If by then you have emailed me - or otherwise let me know – that you intend to renew your subs I'll add enough to cover yours to the cheque I'm sending and recover it from you later.
So, please, while you're thinking about, it send a cheque for £6 to:

Ian Bullock, 104 Bonchurch Road. Brighton, BN2 3PH

Make it out to 'National Clarion Cycling Club'

But the main thing is to let me know definitely by the end of the month so I can include you.

If you've changed your address since you filled in your application form please let me know so I can make sure you are on the mailing list for Boots and Spurs and national Clarion communications generally.

And can I thank the following for giving me their subs at Carats Café earlier today – and offer this note by way of a receipt et pour encourager les autres.

Alice, Anne, Fred, Jeff, Jim Joyce, Mick, Sheila

We have 34 members currently but there are many more people ('friends') on our mailing lists, some of whom might like to join.

So,if you're not yet a member, but would like to join us, please print off the membership form fill it in and send it to me – with your cheque, of course, made out as above.

If you don't want to join that's not problem – we won't be harassing you about it or taking you off the circulation list!

Planning rides

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?

Appropriately for the turning of the year, a double helping this time of Clarion history As well as the usual episode from The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club in 1894 at the end of this circular as usual there is a piece about the Brighton Clarion in the 1940s/50s that I hope you'll find just as interesting.



The Next Ride

Sunday 11 January 2009
Pevensey Levels/Normans Bay
c 17 miles

We're heading for the Star at Normans Bay. Since this is a popular pub for lunch on Sundays I'm planning for us to get there around noon before it gets excessively busy (or will it be suffering from the recession?). So we'll take a fairly direct route – dipping into the Cuckoo Trail then immediately out and over the by-pass on the parallel path, then down through Rickney etc.

When we did this ride last year we took a more meandering route back - over the railway line, past the Martello tower, and on to Pevensey Bay but it's not really a very attractive route. We can still take it if that's what people want to do on the day, but otherwise I propose that we retrace our steps to the roundabout, which will also make the ride a bit shorter, walk through the grounds of Pevensey Castle and then just down the road we can pick up the bridleway (the route of the '1066 Country Walk') for a couple of miles. But if this looks dodgy on the day there's an easy road alternative without adding to the distance.

Either way, back through Hankham and Glynleigh joining the Cuckoo Trail at Summer Hill as we've often done before with the option (again, depending on the weather and how we feel on the day plus whether there's time before the train) of tea at the Old Loom.

Catch 10.20 from Brighton Station or meet at Polegate Station at 10.49. Return trains at 15.02, 15.42 and 16.02

Ian's mobile number is 07770743287

Points of Interest

The Pub. Brigid Chapman's East Sussex Inns has this to say:-

STAR INN: Originally the sluice house for the men working on the artificial waterway, Wallers Haven, in the 16th century. The sluice was designed by Stephen Waller of Hooe for the Commissioners of the Pevensey Levels and the house is referred to in a document of 1597 commenting on the 'infrequent passage of boats bringing iron from the Weald'. Hastings was the licensing-authority for inns and alehouses in the Liberties so the Sluice had to apply to Hastings magistrates until the procedure was changed by the Justices of the Peace Bill of 1949.

William Piddlesden was selling beer from the Sluice House in 1596 without a licence and after he had been trading for a fortnight he was caught and committed to jail until he could find a respectable citizen to guarantee his good behaviour.

The inn's name was changed to the Star in 1801 by Henry Lingham who had married a Miss Elizabeth Starr.

This was one of the busiest spots for the smuggling trade. It acted as a distribution point and tracks from the Sluice led to the Lamb on the marshes, the Red Lion at Hooe and west to safe houses near Pevensey. In 1833 it was the scene of a fierce fight between the coastguards and the smugglers. The coastguards were victorious and three smugglers were killed, five captured and later transported and all the contraband seized.

We shall see examples of no less than three separate coastal defence systems from periods of time widely separated from each other. Anderida, the huge Roman fort dates from about 290 AD. It was one of a series of Saxon Shore forts which seem to have been an effective guard against Germanic invasion until after the legions withdrew. Best part of a millennium later, after 1066 a Norman castle was built in one corner of the fort – again part of a series of fortifications guarding the shore.

At the time of the Spanish Armada of 1588 a gun emplacement was put in and during World War II machine gun posts and accommodation for troups. Some pill boxes remain.

In the early 19th century - 1803-4 when Napoleon I's invasion army was building up near Boulogne there were the Martello towers. If you want to know more about them there's an excellent website which is where I pinched the following information from about the one we will either see from a distance or pass if we decide to take the coast road after lunch.

This low-level tower has survived whilst its neighbours in both directions have been washed away,despite being in a precarious position in 1873. It stands boarded up on the shingle at Norman's Bay and has mostly been unoccupied since the Second World War.

Along with Tower 54, it supported the gun battery situated between them at Rockhouse Bank. In 1820, the tower was fitted with a semaphore machine to enable messages to be sent, and was known locally as the 'Semaphore Tower.' The other towers also fitted with machines were numbers 31 between Bexhill and Hastings, 27 at Dymchurch, and number 4 at Folkestone.

On January 4, 1819, Blockade man John Aston was on duty near the tower, and at about 4 a.m. went to investigate a vessel he had spotted coming close to the shore. He was subsequently attacked by smugglers, but four other officers came to his aid, and despite attacks with sticks and stones being made against them, managed to seize the boat and the smuggled spirits.

The tower was later used by a Mr. A.T.M. Johnson in connection with experiments with a system of wireless telegraphy which he had invented. Having been a professor of music, Johnson's invention revolved around the tuning device he had developed which consisted of a metallic reed. The reed was the subject of a patent and Johnson subsequently formed a company in 1905 and applied to the Postmaster General for a licence. He did this in conjunction with an Eastbourne solicitor, Mr. Walter J. Wenham, son of Alderman J.T. Wenham who owned Tower 55, and was responsible for the destruction of Towers 59, 68 and possibly 63. The syndicate conducted all their experiments in the tower for a year, when the Eastbourne Gazette of November, 7, 1906 announced that "The American and Canadian rights of the Johnson Secret Wireless Telegraphy Syndicate have been sold to an American for two hundred thousand pounds."

The tower was put up for auction as well as Tower 57 in August 1908, but was withdrawn after failing to reach its reserve price, bidding reaching £500. The tower was said to be elaborately fitted after its use in the wireless experiments. However, the tower had become a summer residence by 1910, a balcony added to the seaward side,and extra doors and windows knocked through. Used by a Mr. Cave, his son was in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and served with Commander Hilary Mead, who compiled the first historical survey of the surviving Martello Towers of England in 1948.

An additional concrete roof was added in 1940, the 32-pounder cannon being dismounted. The tower may have briefly been used as a residence again since the war.

Apart from flaking stucco, and the chimney pot balanced at a dubious angle, the tower seems to be in reasonable condition, and is safe from the sea for the time being. A photograph shows that at least two original partitions are still in place with a floor that looks original.

In 1999, Tower 55 was sold for habitation, and was auctioned in April 2004 with a guide price ranging between £130,000 and £150,000 - see BBC News. The tower fetched £285,000.

So there you have it!

The Last Ride - Anne's Report

New Year's Day 'Brunch Ride' to Carat's Café

[More photos on Flickr]

Ian had requested a prompt 10.30am start at the pier, which I had resolved to achieve. Good to have a ritual to mark the New Year and to push you out of a warm bed. However, our blocked kitchen sink at home diverted all my good intentions/resolutions and I was 6 minutes late, but warm at the rendez-vous and was most warmly greeted by Jeff, Ian, Fred, Angela, Jim and Liz;- Mick having just made the deadline. Joyce had been diverted en route by a suffering seagull and she was tending to it and intending to catch us up when she could. A pier security officer took the group photo. So far there was little traffic, but what there had been had caused pain to the young sea bird.

Outside the Palace Pier

We swiftly headed westward with few obstructions or others on the sea-front bike track. The sea was calm and the air nippy. Most of the way to Marocco's we could ride 2 abreast and chat over the events of Xmas [just] past. We were enthusiastically greeted at Marocco's by three more eager cyclists; Betty, Wilma and Wendy, who had brought her dear little dog - Sydney. They already had a soft tyre and were grateful for Jim's swift action with the pump. Sydney was popped in Wendy's basket and we were off again, with still no sign of Joyce.

At Marrocco's Cafe

We seemed to soon arrive at Carat's Café. Basin Road can be tedious, but it flew by for me, though others were curious about the blue pipes at the power station. Jim, our physicist, was asked at brunch what they were, but, sadly, he didn't seem to know.

Sue and Sheila had already arrived in warm coats by car at Carats and there may have been tables inside but Angela took the bold option of outside and the rest of us joined her, though there was no sign of the sunshine with which 1.1.7 had been blessed. Looking back in the archive I see I was sitting out in cotton sweater then and Ted was resplendent in his Clarion top. He is sadly missed.


Food and drinks were ordered and arrived swifftly and copiously. The patio heater was lit up for us by the proprietor and although we know they are pollutors, we didn't turn it off. In fact the heat never really reached far downwards and an under-table Japanese-style stove would have been more efficient as all our toes started to freeze. In spite of boots. I was cursed with cheap socks, but even the woollier, wintry ones wouldn't have helped much as the cold climbed upwards to the plastic seats and cold bottoms. Twas tasty, hot food and drinks - 4 leek and potato soups, several of their speciality big breakfasts with crunchy potatoes and scrambled eggs for Jim. Betty, Wendy and Wilma regaled Mick with their bike and barge holiday in Holland and encouraged me to join the Silver Sounds Samba Band. Jim and Angela recalled their best Clarion rides of 2008. Ian took some subs for 2009 and duly noted the payers. Sydney barked at bigger dogs who tried to befriend him but allowed the smaller ones to approach him.

Joyce's story

At last Joyce arrived, soon after our plates had been cleared away. She told us the tale of attempts to save the poor seagull with a broken leg and broken wing. She'd phoned the RSPCA who had asked her to put the bird in a box to await their collection, but this was not easy to do if you had no box and only a bicycle, with which you had intended to cycle swiftly to Carats Café. Now there was a long queue at the café and we were feeling cold.

By the sea

Liz was feeling ill and Mick wanted to return home with her swiftly. Fred relayed their message to me to hurry off so I said hasty goodbyes and Happy New Years and remounted; trying unsuccessfully to catch up with them. Losing sight of them by Hove Lawns and finally reunited with husband in Taj, where I got warmed up at last, before trekking home by 1.30pm; thus missing The World at One. Liz made it to her daughter's flat. Hope she is not now flu-bound and that the rest of the Clarion Club braved the inclement east wind [which Metcheck said made 0degrees feel like -3] and safely wended homewards amid the now throngs of sea-front cyclists, joggers and walkers. 2009 starts with Israel bombing Gaza and around 300 Palestinians being killed, all calls for a ceasefire from UN and EU being ignored. Let's hope the bright promise of Obama's inauguration on 20.1.09 brings some hope of peace in the Middle East and elswhere.


Wally Newman and the old Brighton section

Ever since we started the Section back in 2004, I have been trying to find out more about the old Brighton section and its members. There are pieces by Brian Hutton and Ken Wells on our history page of the website as well as a photo of a youthful Dave Gravett during a race. Just before Christmas Brian put me in touch with Margaret Newman, the widow of Wally Newman the former Brighton CCC Secretary, and another former member, Derek Cover. Sadly, we missed getting in touch with Gilbert Grover, who died aged 93 in 2008, but Derek has much of the material from Gilbert's collection and I hope to be able to gradually use as much of it as possible in circulars and/or on the history page. I also hope to be featuring Margaret's – and possibly Derek's – memories of the Brighton Clarion in those days.

The old Brighton Section

There are still mysteries to be solved. No one is sure when the section started or exactly when it finished! One of the few bits of information we have is a page headed 'Brighton Clarion Cycling Club 1948/49' written by Gilbert Grover which on internal evidence must have been written in the later 1990s – possibly at the time of Wally's death in October 1995. This lists the following:-

Founder - A Giles,
President - Christopher Shipham
Secretary - Wally Newman
Club Captain - Gilbert Grover

Then there's a list of members – some with what seem to be then current addresses. Listed are Derek Cover, Stuart Brenchley (who lived in Burgess Hill), Peter Brookhurst, Margaret Newman, Vera Hill, John Meeres, Cedric Nicholson, Ron Pearcey, Marion Pearcey, D Thornton, D Picken.

There then follows a list headed 'Defectors' listing those who had left the Clarion to join either the Prestonville Nomads or the Brighton and Hove Wheelers. This, says Margaret, is when 'the rot set in' The Clarion was involved in racing but it was not a 'pure' racing club and some of the Clarion members were attractive subjects for poaching – especially Colin Whitingham, who is one of the two riders featured in the photo that accompanies Brian's recent piece on the Preston Park 'velodrome'. Derek adds that some of the 'opposition' were fond of telling people not to join the Clarion – because 'they're all Communists' - which was far from the truth, though it is thought that probably Gilbert Grover was in the CP at that time.

The 'defectors' listed are Derek Marsh, P (Michael) Moreton, Kenneth Wells, A Boniface, Peter Howarth, E Howell, Peter Humberstone, Derek Payne, Colin Whittingham and Colin Moon.

If anyone mentioned above reads this, or anyone who has any information about these Clarionettes or about the Brighton Section of those days please contact me, Ian Bullock, (01273) 682133 or

Wally Newman 1913-1995

Wally was born in Brighton and attended St Luke's School. Before and after World War II he worked for the Alliance Building Society. He retired in 1973. During the War he was in the Parachute Regiment, was captured at Arnhem in the autumn of 1944 but subsequently escaped from a working party with two others who managed to make their way to Allied lines.

He had been stationed in Somerby, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire and during this time had made friends locally. Amazingly he used to cycle there and back from Brighton to see them about once a month for years after the War.

He met his wife, Margaret, the source of this information when she joined the Brighton Clarion C C, of which he was Secretary, in 1949. They married in 1951.

Wally was a Labour councillor representing Moulsecoomb ward between 1952 and 1976 when he lost the election. He had been in line to become mayor the following year. He was also Secretary/Treasurer of the Brighton Branch of the Clerical and Administrative Workers' Union for many years.

Wally Newman: Gilbert Grover's Tribute

[Margaret remembers that Gilbert spoke at Wally's funeral, but is uncertain whether this was his 'script' – which I suspect it is - but it is clearly at tribute to Wally written after his death.]

I came back from India after the War to find my life a wreck; well, not quite but very nearly. Impossible to pick up the threads where they had been broken. The process was called 'settling in' or 'resettlement' when it should have been termed unsettlement. We hear a lot about counselling nowadays - talking things through. Wally was an expert at it. Not by words for his words were few, but better still by sheer practical example.

I meet Wally when he happened to be Chairman of the local branch of the National Clarion Cycling C C and later its honorary branch secretary. Persuaded to become a member, I soon found myself on its committee. Wally was indeed the king-pin of our Club in an unostentatious way, encouraging youngsters to take a really healthy interest in the countryside and in harmless open-air pursuits.

There were cycle runs every Sunday in all weathers throughout the year to all parts of Sussex and adjacent countries as well as competitive race meetings and road time-trials, Throughout 1947-1950 I cannot recall him missing a meeting, run or event. His energy and enthusiasm were quite contagious, maintaining control not as a bossy boots but because he earned the Club's great respect.

My records show that from February 1947 to May 1948, the membership more than doubled mainly due to his encouragement. He added a ladies section to our Club, and soon had us joining the Youth Hostel Association to cycle further afield exploring fresh woods and pastures new – as Milton would say – giving the impulse to cycle through 26 counties into mid-Wales, an exhilarating experience beyond description which could not be equalled by any other form of transport.

Throughout our friendship, I never remember Wally using bad language and he was always ready to lend a hand to those who needed it. Richard Jefferies, the great naturalist, mystic, and philosopher (who once lived in Hove and is buried in Goring) wrote, 'How pleasant it would be each day to think, to-day I have done something that will tend to make future generations more happy.' I believe that sums up Wally's outlook. He devoted so much time and concern to others, with quick wit and ready humour which was one of his most admirable characteristics.

Without him realising it, helped me to face great change in my life and make momentous decisions. We have much to thank him for.


I've borrowed some of Gilbert's annotated photos of the old section which Fred is putting on the history page.

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

24. More support for a Manchester Clarion CC

In his 'Cycling Notes' on 29 December 1894 'Swiftsure' wrote:

C D Reekie of Bradford, Manchester writes me an interesting letter informing me of the intention of himself and a friend to join the proposed Clarion Cycling Club in Manchester. He also adds, 'Like all Socialists I am a dreamer, and have dreamt of that great day when the gigantic I.L.P picnic is to be held and I fancied I saw a team race between the different Klarion Klubs for the Klarion Kup. What price Manchester?'

By-the way , don't you think that the Bounder on matters cyculor about equals A J Balfour on Socialism? I am thinking of his Stanley Show report.

[The Bounder had reported the cycle show mentioned - not very convincingly from the standpoint of cyclists - a few weeks earlier. Balfour was of course the then future Tory prime minister – 1902-1905. At the time Swiftsure wrote he was leader of the opposition. Today he is mainly remembered for the 'Balfour' Education Act of 1902 and even more so – and very topically - for the 'Balfour Declaration' of 1917 which, in a letter to Lord Rothschild, supported the establishment of a Jewish 'national home' in Palestine, then still part of the Ottoman Empire which was one of Germany's allies in the First World War. At the time Balfour was Foreign Secretary in Lloyd George's coalition government.]

Swiftsure continued:

J Perry, of Hulme, hopes that the Manchester Clarion CC will be a real, live concern and adds 'Try if we cannot go one better than those Birmingham chaps'

But judging by the following that will be a difficult matter:-

Next time – 'the following' - the Birmingham CC's 'Smoker' and the first Easter Meet begins to take shape.

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