Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



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

20. More Liverpool activities and 'The Bounder on Tour' near Stratford upon Avon.

I included a letter from the Liverpool Clarion CC that appeared in Swiftsure's cycling page on 13 October 1894 in the last issue. On another page in a regular feature about local socialist activities called 'Notes from the Front' the following appeared at the end of a very long report from Liverpool, signed CITIZEN.

The local Clarion cycle scouts report excellent work done – leaflets, labels, 'Merrie England', Fabian Tracts, and 'Practical Politics' scattered broadcast. There is also much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over the action of the wicked Labour party and that's all.

[Merrie England was Robert Blatchford's best-selling little book advocating socialism. Advance demand for the new penny edition – which would be the one the Clarion scouts were distributing – in October 1894 advance orders were such that the initial printing had to be doubled to 200,000. Fabian Society pamphlets were called 'tracts' a semi-ironic reference to the tracts issued throughout the period by religious organisations 'Practical Politics' defeats me… but let me know if you can elucidate.]

We have met Edward Fay (aka The Bounder) before – being roped in as President of the Birmingham CCC for example. Much of the Bounder's humour hasn't aged that well – but anyway, here he is 'On Tour' He's reached Stratford-upon-Avon where he encounters John Barlow of 'Drunken Bidford.'

No visit to Stratford is complete unless it is extended as far as Bidford; unless Barlow shows you his collection of pictures, his scores of pewter dishes and the boars' heads of olden times, and unless he has taken you over Bidford Bridge, with its nine different pointed arches, pointed out to you Bidford Church rising sheer and square from the shore of the Avon, until you have tasted the delicious stewed eels and his home brewed ale, and above all, show you what was the Falcon Inn where Queen Elizabeth stopped and where, the legend has it, Shakespeare drank not wisely but too much.

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I think the Clarion Cycling Club must give Mr Barlow a call

Sounds great – but a bit far for one of our Sunday rides

Next time: Reports from Bradford and Liverpool plus a recommendation from Swiftsure


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