The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s
23. Cycling parades again – and Swiftsure takes steps to create a Manchester CCC
Still on the Clarion, 8 November 1894. Swiftsure's 'Cycling Notes' began that week:
The O' Groomie did not send me an account of the Birmingham cycle parade, but in reading the accounts thereof in the various cycling papers, I see that the Clarion Cycling Club were down as having taken part in it.
It is rather late to say much about it now but it seems to have been – numerically, and in point of interest and spectacle – a greater show than that lately held in Manchester.
These parades are likely to become an annual affair in many towns. Let us hope that the Clarion C.C. appears in the accounts of all of them.
After this, Swiftsure's 'Cycling Notes' seems to have disappeared for a couple of weeks. When it reappeared there was much on a couple of cycling shows – especially the Stanley Cycling Show which was reported on also by the Bounder – not entirely to everyone's satisfaction as we will see in the next episode. And on 1 December, Swiftsure got down again to addressing the desirability of Clarion clubs spreading.
It is quite a long time since I heard from some of the Clarion C.Cs. Are there not more being formed in some of our towns? The Manchester I.L.P Wheelers appear to be almost non-existent at the present day. Why not form a strong Clarion C.C in Manchester? It is time to begin if we would have it a success. I shall be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to join one. Letters or postcards addressed to 'Swiftsure', Clarion Office, 81 Corporation Street, Manchester will find me. If I see there will be sufficient support for such a club, I will take steps towards calling a meeting for the purpose of forming it.
A fortnight later Swiftsure was able to report:
I have received several replies to my appeal for names to form a Clarion Cycling Club in Manchester, and shall take the necessary steps to call a meeting at an early date
My own ideas are that such a club should be in no way political or exclusive, but more for the purpose of fostering the spirit of comradeship and sense of equality which should pervade all Clarionettes. It should not exclude those who are not of our way of thinking, especially since many of them are young men who might be influenced by contact with real Socialists.
Again, I am not favourable to such a club being used mainly – if at all- for the purpose of distributing leaflets, holding meetings, or similar propaganda work.
Of course, I don't want to say that these efforts at 'propaganda on bicycles' are not praiseworthy, but many of us work hard in various other ways for the good of the cause, and I look forward to my 'wheel' as a means of carrying me away for a time – both in my thoughts and surroundings – from the stress and misery which is all around us.
For mercy's sake, let us now and then try to live and feel the pleasure which should be always ours.
However, I am only one, and I don't want to 'boss' or say how such a club must be run.
I shall abide by the decisions of the majority and work to make it a success.
Which is the next place to organise a Clarion C.C.? Couldn't a strong one be formed in London?
Next time – More support for a Manchester Clarion CC and the Birmingham CC's 'Smoker'.