The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s
63. 11 May 1895 "Post-Bag" concluded - A Clarion call from Blatchford.
Having urged every Clarion reader to order the new monthly The Scout, Blatchford gave a list from its "Directory of Scouting Corps" of 23 such organisations together with their secretaries' names and addresses, and encouraged readers to start one in any district not already covered. What's more:
We want a Clarion Cycling Club in every town. Let every Clarionette who is a cyclist read the Scout; let him read the following "Directory of Cycling Clubs".
And as with the scouting corps a list of clubs, secretaries and addresses followed in Birmingham, Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester (without any contact details), Newcastle, Nelson, Nottingham, Oldham, Potteries, Rochdale, Wigan and Wolverhampton.
The value of these clubs is very great and there is hardly any limit to the possibilities of the scheme. Let every Clarion reader buy the Scout, and that paper will be made larger and better until it is the best monthly paper in the world. Let every town form its scouting corps and glee club and soon "Merrie England"* will be in sight.
Come, my friends we can do it. Let us say we will do it. Let us make our minds up that next year we will have a Clarion cycle meet, at which a hundred clubs shall be represented. Let us resolve to have a hundred corps of Scouts at work before we taste another Christmas pudding.
These things can be done. But they can only be done by each reader acting as if the whole thing depended solely on his own exertions.
* Merrie England was the title of the little book by Blatchford explaining socialism in an easily accessible way that is often said to have been the most effective and successful piece of socialist propaganda ever in Britain. Originally serialised in the Clarion in 1892/3 it was then produced in book form for a shilling. It sold 25,000 copies. Then, with the Clarion covering the inevitable loss, a penny edition in October 1894 sold over 700,000, with a later 3d edition taking sales up to nearly a million. It was said to have sold equally well in the USA and was translated into a number of languages including (oddly given the title) Welsh.
Next time: "The Philosophy of the Bicycle"