Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



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

7. The Trumpet Badge and Dangle's Parisian cycling activities

In an earlier instalment (No 2) I quoted the first mention of the Clarion badge. At the end of April 1894, Leonard Hall wrote of the Birmingham Clarion CC members 'who wear in their caps a natty gilt badge consisting of a miniature bugle with the legend "Clarion" in silver letters'. At the end of June there was a small ad offering them for sale at 1s 8d. (No 3) but this was not repeated each week so on 1st September 'Swiftsure' reported:

A correspondent writes to me from Puddick, Yorkhires asking where Clarion cycling badges are to be had. He thinks it would be a good idea for Clarionettes who cycle to wear a common badge. I think I remember an advertisement in the Clarion some time ago. There seems to be the chance of such a maker finding customers now, if he will only come forward and make his whereabouts known.

The following week (8 September) Swiftsure was responding to another letter.

A Liverpool correspondent writes that he thinks it would be a good idea to give in these notes the proposed weekly runs of the various Clarion cycling clubs. I shall be most pleased to do this if the various secretaries will send me them. It is hardly worth while for this season, but for next it might be made a feature, particularly as I hope the number of clubs will have increased. Every decent-sized town should have its Clarion C C. My correspondent also goes on to say that it would be useful to Clarionettes touring if they knew the addresses of refreshment-house keepers and others in condention with our movement where they could fraternize and know they were amongst friends. This seems to me to come under the head of advertisements, for which our columns are always open.

That first report (No 1) from Tom Groom on the Birmingham Clarion CC had, you may recall, concluded with a plea for the Bounder (aka Edward Fay, the popular Clarion humourist, to become the Club's President. Now Swiftsure re-opened the question – again in the 1 September issue

Concerning the Birmingham Clarion Cycling Club and its presidency.
Is the Bounder's election irrevocably fixed? 'Cos why? I reprint the following from a Paris paper:-

Last evening's cycling handicap between Asnières and St Leu arranged by the S.A.C proved a very interesting event. There were a dozen competitors. And E. M. Clarke was first. C J Jones second. And N. Tunmer third.

All these men started from scratch.

The winner is Dangle's nephew – Dangle's teacher and trainer, who, with his own sturdy hand (and those of six of the largest sized Parisiens) held Dangle on his machine during his trial trips to Paris last June. I read in Le Vélo that at the Paris championship races at Longchamps the winner of the bicycle race for boys from four to 15 was a younger nephew of the great critic, and the youngest and by far the smallest competitor in the race. Cycling, like wooden legs, runs in families: ergo let not the Bounder imagine a vain thing. The Birmingham event is as good as a walk-over; unless, indeed the too fat men be carried over.

[I mentioned Dangle (aka A M Thompson) in the first instalment of extracts from the Clarion back in February (No 1 on the website history page). Blatchford's Clarion partner Alex Thompson had long-term links with Paris. As a child he had lived there during the Paris Commune in 1871 and Jean Allemane commanded the barricade at the corner of the street where he lived. By the 1890s Allemane and the Parti Ouvrier Socialiste Révolutionnaire (popularly know as the Allemanists much to the disapproval of Allemane himself and other members of the party who – like the Clarion – were very 'anti-leaders') was a not insignificant factor in French politics. Thompson knew Allemane and recorded how on one visit the latter had expounded his views on direct democracy. Thompson took this up with great energy producing there pamphlets, Hail Referendum! The Surest Way to Democracy (1895) which quoted Allemane, The Referendum and Initiative in Practice (1899) and The Only Way to Democracy (1900). Support for 'direct legislation' became the hallmark of the Clarion's socialism. For more on this see Ian Bullock and Siân Reynolds 'Direct Legislation and Socialism: How British and French Socialists Viewed the Referendum in the 1890s.' in History Workshop Journal, Issue 24, Autumn 1987.]




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