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Pickwick Bicycle Club VIP's

Longest Serving Members

57 years Bob Chicken (Angelo Cyrus Bantam) 1954 to 2011
54 years  Barry Brandon (Mr Trundle)  1957 to date
48 years George Palmer (Mr. Snicks) 1894 to 1942
45 years Eric Tyler (Richard Upwitch) 1958 to 2003
41 years Hugh Porter MBE (Jonas Mudge) 1970 to date

Colonel Sir William Thomas Charley QC (VIP Member) - was President of The Pickwick Bicycle Club from 1885 to 1889, and one of our early VIP members, one of five VIPs.

He died suddenly on July 8th 1904 at East Grinstead. He sadly seems to have died as a result of overexerting himself whilst out cycling in East Grinstead when 'he had been getting out of the way of cars' - nothing new there, then. 

Event Organisers:
Stuart Benstead
(Mr Warren)

Stuart sits on the board of British Cycling, Central Region. He was the organiser of the Archer Spring Road Race and is the chairman for the User Group that runs Hillingdon Cycle Circuit on behalf of Hillingdon Council.

Stuart Benstead (Archer Road Club) organised the annual Archer Grand Prix for fifty-two years. This event, routed around the roads and lanes of the Chiltern Hills until its cancellation in 2008, has been described by British Cycling as a "long running classic". The race has, in the past, adopted the name of its main sponsor, including Harp, Pernod and Cycling Weekly.

Stuart also organised the Archer Junior Road Race until 2000.

Cycle Trade:

Sir Harold Bowden (Nathaniel Pipkin)

Sir Harold Bowden, 2nd Baronet , GBE was the chairman and chief executive of the Raleigh Bicycle Company and Sturmey-Archer Ltd from his father's death in 1921 until his own retirement in 1938.

His achievements were celebrated in 1938 when Cycling Weekly awarded him his own page in the Golden Book of Cycling , which is now held in 'The Pedal Club' archive - www.thepedalclub.org/archives/goldenbook/f-j/HaroldBowden.html


Harold was a keen cyclist and oarsman. He succeeded to the Baronetcy on the death of his father in 1921 and in 1929 he was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of the British Empire (G.B.E). He was decorated with the award of Grand Cross, Order of the Phoenix of Greece

He died in Winchester , England in 1960 after a short illness.


His father, Sir Frank Bowden , founded the Raleigh Bicycle Company in 1887. Harold was also chairman of Sturmey-Archer Gears Ltd that had been taken over by his father in 1902. Under Harold's leadership Raleigh continued to lead the industry, introduced many further innovations and acquired other well-known cycle companies such as: Humber (1932), Rudge-Whitworth , BSA and Triumph . Raleigh also manufactured motorcycles and the Safety Seven car from 1932-1937. By his retirement in 1938 production was 60,000 cycles per year from a works site that occupied 20 acres. 

Harold was elected as President of the British Cycle & Motor Cycle Manufacturers' & Trader' Union on two occasions, holding office from 1921 to 1923. He was President of the Motor and Cycle Trades Benevolent Fund from 1924 to 1926 and the 1925 Banquet, attended by the Prince of Wales, raised a record sum of £10,000. He served as Vice-president of the Federation of British Industries

He was appointed to the office of High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1933. From 1930-1934 he served as Chairman of the British Olympic Association , raising over £10,000 to take the British team to Los Angeles for the 1932 Summer Olympic Games . He accompanied the team to America for the games. 

The Rotarian magazine of October 1932 reports that Bowden was quoted in the Los Angeles Times' saying: “Everything has been extraordinarily well managed. I think a better spirit of real sportsmanship has reigned here than at any Olympics since 1896…. I know that we British return home with a glow of good feeling…. It will be increasingly difficult for misguided politicians to lead any nation into war after this.” 

Mr. W.H. Grout (VIP Member) - an inventor who patented the first wire-spoked bicycle wheel in 1870, an arrangement for tightening spokes, and also a wonderful notched tyre. He may have also invented the first folding high-wheeled cycle in 1876.

Lord Nuffield CBE – Mr. William Morris (Joseph Smiggers PVPMPC) was President in 1944. William Morris was apprenticed to a local bicycle-seller and repairer. Nine months later, aged 16, he set up a business repairing bicycles from the family home. The business being a success he opened a shop and began manufacturing as well as repairing bicycles. In 1901, he began to work with motorcycles, designing the Morris Motor Cycle, and in 1902 acquired a garage from which he sold, repaired and hired cars. In 1912 he designed "Bullnose" Morris and began manufacturing. Morris was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1918, created a Baronet, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford, in 1929 and raised to the peerage as Baron Nuffield, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford, in 1934.In 1938 he was further honoured when he was made Viscount Nuffield. He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1939, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1941 and a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1958.

Eric Tyler (Richard Upwitch) – was President in 1958. Director of TI Reynolds - formerly Reynolds Tube Co. - who he joined in 1933 as Assistant Company Secretary.

Robert (Bob) Chicken (Angelo Cyrus Bantam) was President in 1983. Founder of cycle distributor RJ Chicken & Sons, he was an active member of the British cycle industry since the mid-1940s. He was the subject of Graeme Fife's biography, Bob Chicken: A Passion for the Bike, published in 2005 which charted the life of one of the most influential, likeable and colourful characters that the cycle industry is ever likely encounter. His company distributes many well-known cycling brands, including Time, Cinelli, Tifosi, Deda, Nalini, Miche, Sapim, Selle Italia and many others. Bob was awarded an MBE for his services to the British cycling industry in 2008.

Claud Butler (Sir Thomas Clubber) was a Club Member for 20 years. He had worked for the Halford Cycle Company as a mechanic and then as a salesman, and then in1928 opened a bicycle shop at Clapham Junction. He began building bicycle frames and within four years opened branches across London. He accomplished many fine technical achievements, and pioneered many of the present-day developments. Among those with the C.B. hallmark are the origination of the upright bicycle, which dispensed with the old 69 degrees parallel frames; the development of the short wheel-base tandem in 1935; and the introduction of three speeds on tricycles. Claud Butler cycles were known for features such as bronze-weld construction and decorative lugs (techniques pioneered by continental frame builders). He sponsored international racers such as Reg Harris, Eileen Sheridan, Peter Underwood and Dennis Sutton Horn. His bikes were ridden at the 1931 world championship in Copenhagen and then in Italy (1932), France (1933) and Germany (1934). Claud Butler bikes also competed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932.

Mr George Palmer  (Mr Snicks)

President in 1906, 1924, 1928 and 1932
Captain 1907 until his death in 1942
Sub-Captain 1899, 1902-5, 1907

The following article is from Cycling magazine March 17, 1937

“Samuel Pickwick, Esq.”

Famous old-time cyclist, friend of King Edward VII, celebrates his 80th birthday.

Mr George Palmer, friend of Edward, Prince of Wales, who became Edward VII, and today well known to members of the Royal household so that he is a welcome visitor at Buckingham Palace, last month celebrated his 80th birthday. Recently, too, he was re-elected captain of the Pickwick Bicycle Club, the oldest cycling club in the world, for the 30th year in succession, which office carries the famous pseudonym of Samuel Pickwick, Esquire.

George Palmer who, when staying in his native county of Kent, still rides a bicycle, commenced his wheeling as a lad of 13 on a boneshaker in 1870. He followed in the wheel-marks of the pioneer cyclists of only two years previous down the Brighton Road. He joined the Pickwick B.C. in 1894, and was elected to the office of sub-captain early in the present century.

Mr Palmer comes of an old Kent family, and can trace his ancestory back to Alice Palmer, who died in 1467. There is a brass to her memory and that of her two husbands, John Andrew and Thomas Palmer, in Wye Church. Appropriately this veteran of the road, who has witnessed the development of road transport since the earliest days of the bicycle, is proud of his family motto which, translated, reads “No Speed Without Wisdom”.

During his 43 years as a member of the Pickwick B.C. he has occupied the position as president of the club on no fewer than three occasions.

One of Mr Palmer’s greatest desires is that the famous Pickwick Bicycle Club, which today, unfortunately, is a social rather than a cycling organization, shall revive the full meaning of its title by the creation of a section of young, keen cyclists to carry on the tradition of the club so that its name shall live for evermore.