THE first important fixture in 1928 was, of course, the Annual Dinner, held once more at the Exchange Hotel in Fennel Street, Manchester. It was, as usual, open to friends of both sexes, and constituted the one fixture in the Club calendar when the ladies were officially allowed to join us. The position holds good to this day. There are not many clubs nowadays that have remained all male for fifty years. This year, the attendance showed improvement, 64 members and friends attending. Len Johnson had taken on the job of Musical Director and he produced some excellent talent for the musical evening which followed, mainly from friends of members. Many were old and valued friends and Mr. Sutcliffe, who accompanied our artistes for many years, was our honoured guest at the first Annual Dinner Dance which, in a few years' time, our dinner was to become. On this occasion, Bert Rochester, a personal friend of George Mundell, sang for us to his own accompaniment, and liked the Club so much that he became a member. The next time he joined us (at the Bars at Chester) he had discarded his evening dress for cycling "togs" and wrote up the run for the Club "News".
The Northern Road Records Association A.G.M. was held in March and the Club placed a notice of motion on the Agenda to delegate the working of the Association to a Committee consisting of President, Secretary, and nine members. Hitherto, all delegates and private members could attend the Committee or "Council" meetings held throughout the year and this fact did confer an unfair advantage
on any club which, on a particular occasion, might have a preponderance. of members present. Although this subject was most controversial, to the everlasting credit of those present, the proposition met with universal approval. One sad note about this meeting was that the Cheadle Hulme Cycling Club was reported defunct. At one time practically every clubman was a member of the Cheadle Hulme as "second claim" and a full programme of racing events, including its famous "slow hundred", was a popular feature at a time when open events were very few. It was resuscitated in the late 'thirties, became moribund in World War II, and faded away completely after the war. Many clubmen have happy memories of the old Cheadle Hulme and the "suppers" at the Church Inn, Cheadle Hulme.
An item worth recording is that, in April, the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1927, came into force and every cyclist had to carry an efficient rear reflector during lighting-up time. Except under D.O.R.A. during the first world war, cyclists had been immune from carrying rear appendages. "Reflectors only" remained the law until the next period of war in 1939 when rear lights and reflectors became necessary, a. necessity which was not rescinded in 1945 and we are still thus encumbered.
The Easter Tour was centred on the West Arms, Llanarmon D.C., so ideally situated at the head of the Ceiriog Valley in North Wales. To stay at such an old-world inn, rich in ingle-nooks, mullioned windows and narrow winding staircases was always a joy. It had been taken over by Mr. Howard, a retired Warrington business man, who revelled in the part of mine-host; clothing himself in crimson jacket, pantaloons and skull cap to fit the character, he proved to be the most genial of landlords, Mr. Howard quoted terms of 7/6d. per day for dinner, bed and breakfast, which were gladly accepted by the Club. The attendance, however, was only moderate, Arthur Wood, Jimmy Atherton (alias Little Jim), Steve Blount, George Mundell, Bill Bailey, and Andy. An excellent time was spent in the vicinity of Lake Vyrnwy and on the many tracks of the Berwyn range.
Racing in 1928.
The Spring had been one of many hard frosts, but the racing lads had been making their usual preparations for the coming season, Turner in particular showing great keenness, Parker riding a tricycle vigorously on club-runs, and Webster (the first of Parker's "Stooges") suffering nobly in a good cause. Parker liked to have a "stooge", that is one who would call for him on a Sunday morning, pump-up his tyres and make sure that he entered for races in time and such like. Since Webster, Parker has had many such, and his periods of success have always co-incided with the possession of a willing "stooge". Parker, Turner, and Webster entered for the Etna "50" on Easter Monday but, in spite of the moral support of Bracewell and North (on a tandem) and MacQueen, who had toured down for the event, our only finisher was Turner in the disappointing time of 2-30-40. F. W. Southall won in 2-8-4.
On the last Sunday in April came the first Dukinfield "50", which every year since has been the opening "50" in the Manchester calendar and well deserving of the sometimes too loosely applied term of "classic". The event was run on the old Siddington triangle (known affectionately as "the midden") not noted for fast times. Starting at Windy Arbour it proceeded to Siddington cross-roads, Monks Heath, Chelford and just short of Knutsford turned into "Laundry Lane" (now known officially as Gough's Lane) to the Holmes Chapel Road. A mile or so north of Holmes Chapel, the course turned eastwards along Rose Cottage Lane to Twemlow, an out and home detour to Astle Park and from Twemlow back to the start. The pot-holes in Laundry Lane and the two-miles length of Rose Cottage Lane had to be experienced to be believed. It was no unusual occurrence for a rider to break a "sprint" wheel in either of these notorious lanes. But the course was a comfortable one. and in shape more of a rough circle than a triangle; run anti-clockwise it was left-hand all the way and as safe as houses. The morning of the event was perfect for speed but, even so, the winning time of 2-14-42 returned by Bill Ward of the Stretford Wheelers was sensational. Ward's position and style were notorious. He used a specially made handlebar extension which brought his grips near to the front hub and a fixed gear as high as 96 inches! Leaving the timekeeper he would lurch and zigzag along the road like a giant crab. Many thought he was dissipating his undoubted talents, and maybe he was, but this ride made everybody sit up and take notice - 2-14 on the "midden"! Although the C.R.C. had ten riders on the card this brilliant day brought us no success. Six of "ours" finished : Parker in 2-29-37; Bracewell, 2-34-32; J. B. Atherton, 2-38-22; North, 2-38-30; H. Wilkinson 2-40-25; R. MacQueen, 2-42-50. Riding for the Manchester Wednesday, Turner's time was 2-35-22.
A week later, May 6th, Syd Parker made his long awaited attempt on the N.R.R.A. tricycle "50", held by our ex-member, Freddy Hancock, of the Manchester Grosvenor. The Broken Cross course was used and the following interesting account appeared in the Club "News" for June 1928:
N.R.R.A. 50 MILES UNPACED TRICYCLE RECORD
The scene is a bedroom in a country cottage (Oak Cottage, Allostock), it is dark. Suddenly a light appears and a voice groans, "What's the time? The striker of the light murmurs, "Another 20 minutes" and extinguishes the light. Time elapses, a rat-tat is heard on the door and is answered from within, a dim form is to be seen crawling from the bed, draws the curtain from the window and gazes out. The room is now lit with the pale light of dawn and the waning light of a departing full moon. The figure takes a deep breath. of the morning air, then moves over to a chest of drawers, from which he takes a
bottle containing an evil-smelling concoction, remarking, "It's a grand morning, boys, up you get - come on Syd". Syd replies "Leave me alone, I want to sleep - why can't we start at seven?" A little bullying changes the scene to one of activity. Syd is pummelled and smacked to make him faster, other forms disappear to wash in the dew, a rattle and a bang with two hoots of a motor horn announce the arrival of Tommy Burnett and his "flivver". It is 4-30 a.m.
Breakfast is taken standing and intermixed with packing the tricycle on the car, with five passengers, to commence the journey to telegraph pole 118 at Broken Cross, waking the denizens of the farmyard en route. W. P. Cook and Jimmy Taylor were waiting at the start and greetings exchanged.
5-59-0 - Syd is assisted on to his tricycle and settles down.
5-59-30 - W. P. Cook announces half a minute to go. 10, 5, 4, 3. 2, 1; GO - and with a "good luck, Syd" he is despatched, the passengers of the Official Observer scramble into the car and are off.
6-8-50 - Syd has steadied down and is passing Monks Heath - the marshal must have overslept.
6-12-25 - Chelford - plenty of marshals here under the able direction of J. A. Grimshaw, known to the elder brethren as "Appy".
6-24-10 - Still riding a few seconds better than schedule and apparently in comfort. Laundry Lane corner is taken with ease. Teddy Sproston and others see him away whilst Bert Anderson and Little Jim see him safely out of the lane on to the Holmes Chapel road. Mainwaring Arms corner is now passed, "Appy" has bobbed up again. Sleeping quarters passed without a glance.
6-47-25 - Steve Blount waves Syd through Holmes Chapel, the locals are still sleeping, the village is deserted. At the crossroads Tommy Burnett and Bill Bailey salute. We are approaching Sandbach. An early bird in the shape of a farmer holds up his cattle as we pass. We shout our appreciation.
7-2-20 - Sandbach at last. Numerous Manchester Wheelers give Syd the way and we make for the turn at the Kinderton Arms. Syd appears to be in trouble with his tights; is he weakening? The speed does not lessen, the turn is in sight, the car is turned round, a drink is got ready - the rider is back and says he is O.K., drinks all the tea and is away. Back in Sandbach Syd appears interested in posters.
7-25-10 - The Swan is passed, still with a few seconds to the good. We followers now start to discuss by how much our man will beat record.
Holmes Chapel again, Jimmy Royle is assisting Steve, a few locals are about rubbing their eyes. The first motor car of the day passes us and looks on the rider with awe - he thought he himself was early.
8-3-50 - Knutsford is beginning to awake; little Jim gives the all clear and we are on the last stretch. Nine miles to go and 28 minutes left to beat record! We begin to get excited, another large group cheers him at Mere Corner! Charlie Danby passes up a bottle, Syd drains it without slackening and reaches High Legh; here Bert Anderson and Teddy Sproston see him into the lane at 8-18, one minute inside schedule. The Jolly Thresher is in sight, reached and passed. Why do the checkers rush to their machines instead of giving the follower the all clear? Agden Brow has marshals on every corner, there is Alf, Archie, Percy, Taffy; and a host of others - the bottom of the hill is reached, now comes the slight drag to the finish - the pace is slackening, but still furious, only another half mile to go, only, round the next turn, the finish is in sight, the Timekeeper is passed, a cheer and the record is broken - 2-28-59. That ever-ready sportsman, Jimmy Taylor takes Syd back to headquarters for a rest and a rub down. After they are away, one moves in the crowd and sees old record breakers there who have made history - R. H. Carlisle, J. A. Grimshaw and others who still find enough interest in the game to leave a warm bed at 3 or 4 in the morning to see youngsters carry on the great game; may they ever be with us. We cannot close without special mention of the Manchester Wheelers and their great leader, Jimmy Taylor, we owe them a debt which we hope to be able to repay in kind.
A week after Parker's record success came the first Club event of the season - a "50". Parker triumphed once more in 2-23-8; Harold Brewer came second in 2-27-35; and Fred Turner third in 2-28-12. Harold Chantler took the first handicap with 2-30-34; Tony Power, the second handicap with 2-30-58; the third handicap being jointly won by Bert Bracewell and Frank North (on a tandem) with 2-6-26 (Club record). The C.T.C. sections of the Manchester D.A. were a prolific recruiting ground for the C.R.C. One of the nice things about joining the Club was the meeting with old friends from the General and Hardriders' Sections of the D.A. All the above prizewinners were known to the writer when riding with the C.T.C. in the middle twenties. Parker, indeed, rode in his first Open event under the name of the C.T.C. This was the Geisha Wheelers' "25", held in October 1925. It was not run in accordance with R.R.C. recommendations and the course was short! F. H. Wyld, the famous pathman from Derby, was the winner in a sensational 1-1-0, and Parker finished in an almost equally sensational time of 1-2-0!
This year's Anfield "100" was held on a brilliantly sunny and very hot Whit Monday. Parker did 5-27-35 and Turner (riding for the Manchester Wednesday) 5-32-4. Johnson and Brewer retired. Our member, R. Muschamp, riding for one of the Leicester clubs, retired with one of the best excuses I have ever heard - that he was dazed and dazzled by the brilliant reflection of the strong sun from his all plated frame into his eyes! Southall won in 4-53-26, (his third win in a row).
Harold Wilkinson and Jimmy Atherton competed in the Salford Borough C.C. "30" with disappointing times-1-33-21 and 1-33-46 respectively. On the same week-end, Tony Power journeyed over to Yorkshire to ride in the Andy Wilson Memorial 50 ; again disappointment - 2-31-42.
On Saturday, June l6th, the Manchester Wheelers 50 was once again held in Shropshire. J. K. Middleton (North Road) won with 2-18-20, but further disappointments were our lot - Brewer, 2-32-52; Power, 2-38-59; Chantler, 2-44-4; Parker retired, and Turner and Joe Green, riding for the Manchester Wednesday returned the respective times of 2-28-18 and 2-42-19. On the day following (the Sunday) Atherton (2-35-50); MacQueen (2-37-30) and Wilkinson (2-38-17), rode in the Sheffield Central "50" on the fast Retford course, which they, obviously, did not find fast!
A week later, Turner beat Parker for the first time. This occurred in the Stretford Wheelers' "50" when Fred (riding for the Manchester Wednesday) returned 2-22-30 to Syd's 2-26-7. Other times by "ours" were Atherton, 2-35-0; J. H. Green, 2-35-0; A. C. Wood, 2-35-4; and Bracewell, 2-40-52.
An inside "even" time won the Manchester Grosvenor Wheelers "100" for the first time, and this year's race proved to be the last of the series to be held on Saturday afternoon. The winner was G. B. Orrell (Anfield) in 4-57-15, considered to be "some" ride at the time. Parker was the fastest of the C.R.C. men in 5-20-58 followed by Chantler, 5-28-6; Bracewell, 5-40-49; MacQueen, 5-55-33; and Bernard Prendergast in 6-16-37. The last-named certainly required a lamp to finish!
The Club had four riders in the Anfield "24" and three finished with highly meritorious mileages. Ron MacQueen established a new Club record with 354 3/4 miles; Tony Power, covered 349 1/2 miles; and Jimmy Atherton 335 3/4 miles. Arthur Hancock (Anfield) won with 384 miles.
On this same week-end, Parker and Turner rode in the Sharrow "50", Parker being second fastest for the second successive year. His 2-21-37 was 10 seconds slower than the winner, C. E. Snowden (Notts Castle.). Turner retired.
The second Club "50" held this month had 26 entries and once more Cy Anderson was the timekeeper. Parker was fastest in 2-23-44; Turner second in 2-27-6; and Bill Coleman (a Londoner working in Manchester, and a member of the Columbia C.C.) third fastest in 2-28-35. Jack Daulby headed the handicap prizes with 2-30-30; Joe Green took the second handicap with 2-31-13; and Bert Bracewell was third in the handicap with 2-31-54.
We had no riders in the Bath Road "100" this year (wan by Len Cave, Vegetarian C. and A.C., in 4-41-18), but Tony Power went down to Tewkesbury for the Speedwell "100" and won the third handicap prize with a Club record time of 5-12-36. On the same day (August Bank Holiday) Harold Brewer won the first handicap prize in the East Liverpool Wheelers' "50" with 2-24-27. Harold Chantler returned 2-35-3; R. MacQueen, 2-38-15; H. Bracewell retired; and Fred Turner, riding for the Manchester Wednesday, came in with 2-32-40. A few weeks earlier Steve Blount covered 187 1/2 miles in the Lancashire Road Club "12".
There has always been friendly rivalry between the Manchester Wheelers and the Cheshire Roads. Thus, when we decided to hold a scratch tandem "50" late in August, we invited the Wheelers to compete and make it into an inter-club event. The Wheelers had a crack tandem pair in Arthur Wager and Harold Yates, who were confidently expected to win. But, to our delight, Arthur Wood, teaming up with Harold Brewer, confounded everybody and returned fastest time of 2-5-33. Not only that but we filled the first five places - Bill Coleman and Bert Bracewell, 2-7-53; Fred Turner and Ted Rigby, 2-12-11 ; Charlie and Reg Danby, 2-14-13; Harold Chantler and Joe Green, 2-14-52. Sixth came W.P. and S. F. Cole of the Wheelers, a father and son combination, who did 2-15-18. Wager and Yates were seventh in 2-15-44. Len Johnson and Syd Parker were slowest of the day in 2-34-14. This appealed to Johnson's cynical sense of humour. The winning time was a new Club record.
The Club 12-hour handicap and Standard medal ride was blessed with perfect weather conditions, warm and sunny with very little wind. Fred Turner proved his mettle by winning his first Club event with the highly meritorious mileage of 209 1/2; Harold Chantler, a tall and elegant stylist, was second with 204 1/2 miles beating Tony Power into third place by a quarter of a mile. Syd Parker (who was supposed to be too fragile to finish a "12") played "silly beggars" all day but ran out time with 203 miles. Bert Bracewell was the fifth man to beat the coveted 200 miles which he did by 2 1/2 miles. Jack Daulby missed it by 3/4 of a mile but he had the consolation of qualifying for a Gold standard. The event was run on a Saturday and, although there were 14 entries, Reg Danby, the Racing Secretary, had great difficulty in finding men to check and man the feeding stations. Everybody worked on Saturday mornings in those days! It was considered, however, that Sunday traffic was too heavy for a 12-hour event and, in any case, a rider should have a full day's rest before resuming work on Monday!
The Palatine "50" had now become a regular fixture on Lancashire roads and, this year, four C.R.C. men entered, but with little success. Bill Coleman, A. J. Power, and J. B. Atherton returned the respective times of 2-25-21, 2-35-39, and 2-40-21. Parker retired. A week before our last event of the season Fred Turner went down for the North Road "100" and returned 5-12-51.
The Club "25", held on September 30th had 21 entries. Fred Turner followed up his success in the "12" with another win with 1-8-47. Parker was second, four seconds slower after puncturing. Harold Brewer ran third in 1-10-23. The handicap prizes were won by A. Roberts, Bill Leonard and Arthur Wood. Parker may have been unlucky in losing this particular event but, although nobody realised it, TURNER HAD TAKEN OVER! Parker would not win another Club event until September 1931. For various reasons, personal and sheer misfortune, Syd was to wander in the wilderness for a long time.
The season wound up with some disappointing times in the Stretford Wheelers "25" on October 7th - Turner, 1-15-15 (after a puncture) and Atherton, 1-15-59. Mention should also be made of the valiant attempt in June by Bert Bracewell and Frank North on the N.R.R.A. tandem "12". They chose the worst of days and retired at 120 miles.
Late in September, after a long week-end in the Lake District, I was spending the Monday night at Mrs. Braithwaite's well-known C.T.C. house, in Kendal, when her daughter received fabulous news from London. Jack Lauterwasser had won the Poly "Gaylor" 12-hour with 237 7/8 miles! It seemed unbelievable at the time bearing in mind that the previous best "12" in 1928 had been performed by Cliff Stead, Yorkshire R.C. in winning the Leeds Road "12" with 231 miles. The remarkable thing is, though, that some years later, the "Gaylor" course was found to be long and Lauterwasser's distance was actually over 240 miles and he goes down in history as the first man to beat "evens" in a "12" in competition!
The Swan at Bollington was again the venue for our A.G.M. in December. The Hon. Secretary reported that we had commenced the year with a membership of 54, three members had left the Club and we had obtained 21 new members. Thus, at the end of the year we had 71 active and three honorary members - a very satisfactory state of affairs. Arthur Wood had been instrumental in obtaining most of the new members, and throughout the years the number of young and promising riders attracted to the Club by him has been legion. An attempt was made to move the Club "12" from a Saturday to a Sunday without success. Jimmy Atherton proposed that we reduce our subscription from 15/0d. to 12/6d., but Andy Wilson administered the coup de grace by quoting an apt metaphor - "Once the Club had to clip its wings; now its wings had grown again, why not let it fly?" At long last, to Johnson's satisfaction, the 12-hour Gold standard was raised to 200 miles. Percy Williamson and Tommy Burnett were again returned as President and Vice-President respectively. Andy retained the Captaincy, and Bill Bailey, after nobly carrying out the dual duties of Sec. and Editor for two years, was relieved of the Editorship by Jimmy Atherton, who, if only for one year, was to carry out an excellent job. Arthur Wood, of course, kept the post of Moneybags and Reg Danby carried on as Racing Sec.
The year ended with high hopes. 1n addition to Parker had we not another good man in Turner?