Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  


Dear fellow members and friends

21 April 2009

It's difficult to avoid the Clarion B&H Section – not that anyone could possibly want to! Having spent much of Sunday riding to Upper Beeding and back with 14 other members and friends, and meeting Bob at the pub (see Roger's report below), I tuned into the first programme of BBC4's new series 'Mud, Sweat, and Tractors: the Story of Agriculture' and there was yet another member, Alun Howkins, as one of the participants and, if I recall correctly, the historical consultant. Fascinating stuff - & there are 3 more programmes to go. (Also on Wednesdays.)

We had five members – Bob, Colette, Fred, Sue and me at the Easter Meet at Ramsbottom That's exactly 12.5% of the membership of the Section. For more details see our reports – quite long but full of vivid detail (well everyone else's) - further on, after the details of the next ride.

I've had quite a lot of messages about future rides and contributions for the history page, etc etc but I'm very busy – and not only with all the things in this circular – at the moment, so please bear with me. I will answer and/or act upon your messages eventually.

Planning rides

2009 rides for the rest of the year will be on Sundays 17, 31 May; 14, 28 (Leon ) June, 12, 26 (Leon) July, 9, 23 August, 6, 29 September*, 4 *, 18 October, 1 15, 29 November, 13 December (Me to organise/lead - if I'm still able!- unless otherwise indicated).

As always I'd welcome offers to organise/lead on any of the dates above. But the ones marked * are ones I definitely can't do. Make sure to let me know at least 3 weeks before – and to let he have full details at least 2 weeks before the date of the ride.

Toll Bridge Ride – 5 July I'll send you a separate message about this in a day or two. Thanks for the emails from those who responded. Any more interest in this?

The Next Ride

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

I've been very busy since the last ride and away for the last week, so there's not been time to come up with anything very original – though I have got an idea (thanks to Annette and Kevin) for one featuring a seaside picnic later in the summer. We last did the Twineham etc ride last May, so I don't feel too bad about repeating it now.

Sunday 3 May 2009
Hurstpierpoint – Hickstead – Twineham – Wineham – Blackstone
c18 miles
Taking the little roads past Hurstpierpoint College crossing the main A27 (by bridge) at Hickstead, more quiet lanes to Twineham and then Wineham, where we'll stop for lunch at the Royal Oak. Then down to the pretty hamlet of Blackstone and via Bramlands back to Hurstpierpoint, with a possible tea stop at Washbrooks Farm, and on to Hassocks station.
Catch the 10.44 from Brighton or meet at Hassocks station at 10.52 (a mere 8 minute journey). Trains back should be no problem


Meet: Meet at Hassock Station at 10.52
Getting there: Catch 10.44 from Brighton station (arrive at 10.20 for chance of Groupsave)
Distance: About 18/19 miles.
Hills: mostly fairly flat with some undulations
Off road: None. Mostly quiet country roads. (Leon may lead us back from Hurstpierpoint by a route that avoids the main road as he did last time.)
Catering: lunch at The Royal Oak. Possibilities for tea at Washbrook Farm
Getting home: Trains back at 38 and 52 minutes past the hour.

My mobile: 0789 985 1172.

The 114th Clarion Easter Meet at Ramsbottom

[lots more photos on Flickr]

Fred writes:

Ian and Sue very kindly gave me a lift Up North. Ramsbottom is quite near Bury, where I was born and bred and where my sister and family still live. I was able to kill two birds with one stone: attend my first Easter Meet and see my family. Well, three really as Ramsbottom is a station on the East Lancs Railway and I'm passionate about steam trains! The social on Good Friday night was a good place to put faces to names: after a blues singer had knocked out some Stones favourites, Bury Section's Peter Roscoe read from 'The Lion and Albert', and the Clarion's fastest growing section West Lothian (with a high proportion of Junior members) performed their Club Song with ukulele accompaniment (two of them had cycled down from Scotland on fixed-wheel bikes!), I got a lift home with Donald Lever, the Membership Secretary, who'd been in the same class as me at school.

There's an old mill by a stream

I missed the hill climb on Saturday morning as it started at the crack of dawn and was all over by breakfast. The Conference was rather longer and more technical than anticipated, with the added surprise at the end that our Section (aka Bob Harber) was to host next year's meet - in Eastbourne! After this, I sloped off to Rawtenstall to seek out Britain's last Temperance Bar and sample a sarsaparilla (80p), followed by the first of many rides on steam trains. Saturday night was an excellent buffet supper, and luckily I had to leave to catch my two buses home before the ceilidh band came on.


Sunday was the highlight of the weekend with a car trip to the Clarion House Cafe, the other side of Burnley. The weather was glorious and we were able to take our 50p pints of Clarion tea outside and enjoy magnificent views over the Pendle hills. Other more hardy lycra-clad Clarionettes had cycled there, a leisurely 40-mile excursion with plenty of challenging undulations. Afterwards, Ian and Sue joined me on a round trip of the ELR and were delighted to be pulled by a loco (80098) built at Brighton Works in 1954. After a drink in the pub next door (with its own bowling green half way up the hill) we repaired to the Annual Dinner. Unfortunately I had to leave before the speeches. No doubt Ian will fill us in.


Postscript: On Tuesday, on the recommendation of one of the Clarion officers, I went to view a fabulous exhibition of Walter Crane's work at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester entitled 'Art and Labour's Cause is One'. A whole bay was devoted to the Clarion, with letters and artwork - and a photo of the Clarion 'van', including the National Clarion logo (not the 'Fellowship is Life' one, but the one with 'Socialism: the Hope of the World') and various versions of the popular poster 'A Garland for May Day 1895'.


Clarion House Cafe tea

Sue adds:

I enjoyed a jolly, sociable, Easter Meet at Ramsbottom, mixing Clarion events with exploring the town and markets, taking a lovely drive to the Clarion Café at Roughlee to greet the speedy cyclists and riding on the East Lancs Railway between Rawtenstall and Bury, with Fred as expert guide. We didn't quite succeed in our mission to buy a particularly rare specimen of Bury black pudding for Ian, but I believe Fred may have saved the day by procuring some after we left. [Yes, got one on the Wednesday market - Fred]

It seems the assembled Clarion members and company engage in an assortment of cycling pursuits, generally of a racing nature, but the special character of Brighton & Hove section as a 'leisure' group (with the notable exception of Bob of course) is welcomed happily into the mix. Peter Roscoe, the National Treasurer (and treasure) – former formidable competitor himself – says he looks forward to B&H ride reports and prints them off for his bedtime reading. Ian persisted in telling racers and hill-climbers that he thought their activities are regarded by some of our section with the same mystified bemusement as those of Morris dancers, which in general they took surprisingly well. Fellowship is Life!


And from Bob:

Cycling events [I assume Ian has total recall of the Social events].

The early morning hill-climb on Saturday was an excellent appetiser for breakfast. I was unable to enter as I have been banned from racing this season by order of the organising body for time-trials, CTT, following a crash last August.

At about 7.30 am knowledgeable folk turned left from the hotel and rode via the flattish main road to the foot of the chosen hill. Not having the benefit of this bit of local intelligence, I turned right. This uphill gradient – called 'The Rake' - rapidly increased to 25%. I was thinking 'If this is just the ride out, what horror awaits for the race?'

Gasping at the top of the half-mile Rake, I eased down a more modest, 'Freshfield Road type' slope and found the competitors waiting at the bottom of a one kilometre 5% climb. In the race itself, young muscled men took about 2 minutes, older types about three and a half, with youngsters of 10-12 just over four minutes. But the biggest cheer of all went to Alex, with 7 years and 7 minutes.

Within the next hour, hearty breakfasts were eagerly consumed by both spectators and competitors.

The Sunday 'Witches Challenge' 41 mile Sportive took us well beyond the industrial towns of Accrington and Burnley into the beautiful, but hard Forest of Bowland. I hung on to the fast group until the ascent of Waddington Fell, when I was immediately spat out of the back of the peloton. I never did see them again until it was all over! Slaidburn, what a gem of a moorland village; Chatburn, such a heavenly ice-cream as I waved it siren-like at the passing second group, but none were tempted; to Roughlee and the divine Clarion Café, pint mugs of tea just 50 pence. Fast men in at 2h 35m; ice-cream deniers at about 3 hours; me a further quarter of an hour back. Good fellowship and slight sunburn for all on a glorious Easter Day.

And the 115th Meet in 2010 at Eastbourne Friday 2 – Monday 5 April - Bob again:

The next Easter Meet will be at Eastbourne. I hope that some of you will be able to come over for all or part of the weekend, particularly the Annual Dinner and Presentation on the Sunday night.

The seafront Cumberland Hotel will be our Headquarters. The manager is a keen cyclist; he is now working with the Eastbourne Tourism Dept to set up an Easter Festival of Cycling. Under discussion are road closures for town races, a large race over several laps of a Beachy Head course, a hill-climb and a children's event.

I think that a leisure ride would also be popular and wonder if any of the experienced Brighton Clarion might be able to support this, either in preparation or on the day of the event (probably on the Sunday).


I'm sure we can organise a leisure ride for Easter Sunday; I have a route in mind which features the Cuckoo Trail and the Pevensey Levels (including the unique fortifications – Roman fort/Norman Castle). We can make it part of our regular runs as well and involve more B&H people that way. But there may be other things we can give Bob and Colette a hand with. I've asked Bob to keep us posted. In the meantime if you would like to know more about the 2010 Meet and/or make an early offer of help you can contact Bob on

Sorry Fred missed the hill climb because it was too early in the morning – perhaps next year? [We'll have to try and organise some rides featuring Ditchling Beacon etc so he can get a bit of practice! The Rake's a bit too far for a Sunday run.] I share his view that the steam train trip and the visit to Clarion House were highlights of the weekend. But the only other time I've visited the latter – by bike, though much slower I'm sure than Bob – in 2004 'Clarion tea' was 40p a pint. And now it's 50p! But isn't that still amazing?

Clarion House Cafe tea

Bob and Fred have a very gratifying confidence in my 'total recall' abilities – but, given that at this moment I'm having trouble remembering the names of students I last saw at the end of last term that is rather worrying. Annual dinners and the like are – as we used to say when the world was young 'not my scene' – but I did conclude that we seem to have an unusual number of good stand-up comedians in and around the Clarion judging from some quite hilarious speeches. I'm sure the Bounder would have approved.

The only contentious item on the agenda at the annual conference on Saturday morning was that rule change proposal about giving the national committee power to refuse membership without giving a reason. At our AGM we unanimously decided to oppose both that and an amendment which would have required a reason given. This had all arisen, you may remember, because of the activities of someone who was apparently harassing a woman member of another local cycling club and who was pestering various Clarion section secretaries in the area and generally making a nuisance of himself. At the conference Bob – in his role as Standing Orders Secretary and member of the national committee - moved that the whole issue be remitted to the national committee for further consideration in the light of – among other things – the way that other national bodies such as the CTC dealt with such issues. He also made the point that such matters could be – and were sometimes - handled without need of a specific rule as long as the organisation concerned behaved in what would be considered a reasonable way in the unlikely event of an issue coming before a court.

When no one from the committee seemed to be about to second Bob, I leapt into the breach. I made the point that everyone at our AGM was opposed to the rule change and that our view was that this was a classic case of hard cases making bad law. I said that we would want three things taken into account; 1. that the 'terms of reference' applied would include whether we needed any rule at all about excluding applicants for membership; 2. that if a new rule was to be proposed a clear indication of how in practice the procedure could work would be given; and 3. that sections and members would be invited to give their view before a decision was made. These points were accepted by the Chair. I don't intend to wait for an invitation on point 3. I propose to draft a short statement which summarises the view we came to at the AGM, circulated it to members asking for amendments and then when everyone is happy with it send it off to the national secretary.

Thanks again, Fred, for that splendid boudin from Chadwick's in 'Bury's Famous Market'!


The Last Ride - Roger's Report

Sunday 19 April 2009
Upper Beeding

There was sunshine but a cool wind as we assembled at the Palace Pier to ride to Upper Beeding. We were Ian (our leader), Alan, Fred, Geoff, Leon, Roger, Sue, Suzanne, Stephen and Terry. Three more joined in Hove, Alice, Jenny (on her first Clarion outing) and Richard. And waiting at the Toll Bridge in Shoreham were Angela and Jim.

The start

The ride was easy, one hill (after lunch unfortunately but no one complained) and some patchy mud on the Coastal Link between Shoreham and Bramber. The large number meant going single file and still delaying a few motorists in the heavily parked suburban streets (but no one complained – not even the motorists, at least not audibly).

Lunch at The Bridge in Upper Beeding. The weather was just good enough for most of us to sit in the fairly sheltered garden. A small contingent chose to go inside. It says a lot for a pub that the arrival of fifteen hungry and thirsty cyclists on a Sunday lunchtime was met with calm and friendly efficiency. The meals took a little while to arrive, but there were fifteen of us (and no one complained, in spite of growing hunger pangs).

Lunch at The Bridge

There was much chat about the Clarion Easter meet in Ramsbottom, attended by Fred and Ian, and about the Isle of White two-day event led by Jim. We were joined after lunch by yet another member, Bob our racing secretary and also a member of the national Clarion committee. He told us that he had volunteered to organise next year's national meet in Eastbourne. His reward was to be allowed to have a go at fixing Angela's front brakes, which had been causing trouble for some time. Having fixed the brakes he demonstrated the effectiveness of his work by using them to throw himself over the handlebars!

Bob'll Fix It

Seconds after leaving Upper Beeding we were in Bramber and some minutes later we were sitting down to tea and other delights at Shoreham airport. Several flights from the airport may have been delayed by those members who had chained their bikes to the gate used by the pilots to get to their planes.


The final leg of the journey took us over the newly re-opened Toll Bridge. At which point the peeling off started, so that by the time the ride arrived back at the pier (26.5 miles later), there were only three riders left. It was 26.5 miles pier to pier, according to my milometer – and no one complained!

Thanks to Ian for another enjoyable day out!


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

32. Manchester Cycle Show and a cycling club for MPs – with Clarion comments.

From Swiftsure's 'Cycling Notes in The Clarion, 2 March 1895

I met the hon. sec. of the local Clarion C.C, and although Mr Dawson is not exhibiting, he tells me his machines are selling remarkably well, and from what I have seen they deserve to.

The Clarion 9 March 1895

The hon. sec. of the Liverpool Clarion C.C. Hy. Cummins, sends me a cutting which avers that a cycling club is being formed amongst members of Parliament, to be called the St. Stephens C.C with Mr A. J. Balfour* as the probable captain. I suppose it is a canard arising from Mr Balfour having been spoken of as the next president of the N.C.U.** Comrade Cummins makes some facetious remarks on the subject and suggests that we invite this extra-ordinary club to Ashbourne, and there discuss Socialism with them. He also says 'suppose this remarkable club happens to have their tyres punctured while out riding, it would be an easy matter for Mr Balfour to deliver one of his celebrated orations to the tyres and in a few seconds the tyres would be filed with wind.'

* prominent Conservative politician, later prime minister in the early 1900s and probably best remembered today for the 'Balfour Declaration' of 1917 giving British Government 'support for' the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Balfour was Foreign Secretary in Lloyd George's wartime Coalition Government.

** The National Cyclists' Union had been formed as the Bicycle Union in 1878 and adopted that name in 1883. See Brian Hutton's pieces in Boots and Spurs and on the 'history page' for the struggles between the Union and the 'rebel' National League of Racing Cyclists in the 1940s and '50s. Peace was restored in 1959 when they merged to form the British Cycling Federation.

Next time. The first Easter Meet gets nearer as Clarion C.Cs continue to get organised

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