Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



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

44. The Ashbourne Meet (at last!)

As you would expect the first Clarion CC meet got considerable coverage in The Clarion, coverage not confined to Swiftsure's column. On the 20 April 1895 Alex Thompson (aka 'Dangle') devoted his 'By the Way' feature to it, It began on the front page and ran over onto p 2.

Had Keir Hardie been wise and gone with us to Ashbourne he would have found cause, when enumerating Socialism's favourable symptoms at Newcastle on Tuesday, to include another and a most cheering sign of the time.

No healthier or brighter force exists in all the movement than the ardent legion of young and lusty Scouts and Cyclists with whom we so pleasantly forgathered in the restful vale of the Dove. Their fervour, their intelligence, their readiness and resourceful of with (sic), their broad sympathy, and, above all, their kindly good humour, brought some of us who had presumed to think our services needful to the good direction of their energies, to the not uncomfortable conclusion that we were not wanted at all – except perhaps – as their disciples

* * * *

These men will serve. They formed the National Clarion Cycling Club at Ashbourne which is destined to make history. As the cavalry of the Scouting Army they will at least spread the literature of Socialism into remote and sequestered villages and hamlets where our cause might else have remained unknown; but if they can also hold meetings such as that which kindled Ashbourne on Sunday night, they might well establish Socialist organisations which, despite Tom Mann's electric energy, might else remain shrouded.

They won't have a Sexton, a Groom, a Snell, and a Riley at every meeting, but - they will serve. Wherever they go, they will at least reflect credit on Socialism, and cause Distrustful Respectabity to reconsider itself.

More from Thompson next time


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