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The Pickwick Bicycle Club
Established 1870

The Pickwick Bicycle Club was formed on the 22nd June, 1870, when six cycling enthusiasts met at the Downs Hotel, Hackney Downs, East London, and decided to form themselves into a bicycle club. As the formation coincided with the death of Charles Dickens the name "Pickwick" was chosen in honour of the novelist. From that time onwards the Pickwick Bicycle Club has an unbroken history as an active cycling organisation and in the worthwhile task of spreading fellowship and conviviality.

The Pickwick Bicycle Club is not only the oldest cycling club in the world but it is also the oldest Dickensian Association.

 Its present-day activities, whilst still maintaining its cycling traditions, provides the opportunity for setting aside the day-today worries, and meeting in an atmosphere of conviviality and good fellowship.


Downs Hotel, Hackney Downs, East London
Six cycling enthusiasts
met here on 22nd June, 1870
and formed the Pickwick Bicycle Club




It is probable that the Pickwick Bicycle Club, as an organisation, is unique in the world.

There are many clubs that are supported by the leisure and sporting interests of their members or by the numerous literary associations, but a combination of both such interests is a different matter. I know of none similar to ours.

Membership is considered a privilege and does impose certain obligations. High amongst these are good manners and good fellowship. The essence of the Club is that it is private and publicity is neither sought nor welcomed. Other than in the early years (when all members would have been familiar with the work of Charles Dickens and would have known the Pickwick Papers in detail) the emphasis has been on cycling, rather than reading. The early records detail weekly runs over much of the Home Counties, but it is a regrettable fact that since the Second World War, interest in this respect has diminished, so that now only a handful of members enjoy the occasional spin. Similarly, it is unfortunate that interest in the books of Charles Dickens has lessened. His stories are still widely used throughout the world in film and television, but gone are the days when he had as many readers as did the daily papers.

This does not prevent the club from trying, in as many ways as it can, to encourage his traditions. A Dickensian atmosphere is maintained at its meetings and members are expected to know the qualities and deeds of their sobriquet. It has been possible to extract the names of over two hundred characters to provide a sobriquet for each of those invited to join.

The Club values and tries to preserve the traditions of the past. Members gather twice a year, without any strong desire to put the world to rights, and there seems no reason to believe they should not continue to do so long into the future.

Ken Barker (The Shepherd) Past President