PBC Header


<< Previous    [1]  2  3  4    Next >>

History of the Pickwick Bicycle Club


Compiled by "The Hon. Mr. Crushton”

Published by
The Pickwick Bicycle Club
18, Eldon Street, London, EC

On January 18th, 1902, a Sub-Committee was appointed for the purpose of compiling a History of the Pickwick Bicycle Club. The following is their report:

It had been felt for some time past that this Club – which, owing to its being the oldest Bicycling Club in existence, occupies a somewhat unique position – ought to possess a permanent record of its early history.
As members have been informed in the Monthly Circular, the work has been done, and in presenting their report, this Committee desire at the outset, to say that, at their request, Mr. W. E. Blake (the Hon. Mr. Crushton) undertook the compiling of the narrative, and has done his work in a manner that will, we are sure, meet with the members’ entire approval. When it is understood that from the first meeting in 1870 down to 1904 the record is complete and continuous; that every event (public and private) with which the Club has been associated – all its races, tours, and the cycling performances of its members are described in most readable and interesting form; members will realize how great has been the task and how well the Hon. Mr. Crushton has performed the work with which his name will be connected as long as the Club exists.
This book, if published, will undoubtedly be of considerable value to all who have an interest in the sport, for it is well known that the Pickwick Bicycle Club was closely identified in the early days with all the important events that marked the rise and progress of cycling.
Such events as the Hampton Court Meets, the great Race Meetings, early record rides and tours, which had so much to do with bringing the bicycle into public favour, are graphically recorded, so that this work forms practically the History of the Sport as well as that of our own Club, and will be a handbook and authority to future generations on the rise of cycling in this country.
To Pickwickians themselves it will need no recommendation; the older members cannot fail to derive pleasure in recalling the incidents and personalities associated with the early days of the Club, whilst new members will feel no less interested in its traditions.
The Committee, therefore, confidently hand over the MS: to the Club, and recommend that arrangements be made to print and publish it in book form.

EDWARD HILL, Hon. Secretary

June 13th, 1904


In taking upon myself, at the request of the other members of the “History Sub-Committee,” the task of compiling these records, I felt I was incurring a responsibility of which it was not easy to see the outcome; but the kind encouragement and patience of my colleagues has enabled me to keep my hand to the plough, and produce the result, such as it is, which is now placed before my fellow members and other readers. The subject is not one about which a romance can well be woven, consisting as it does mainly of bare facts, but I have endeavoured to make the account readable, and trust that all shortcomings will receive the indulgence which may fairly be claimed for the work of an amateur. At first it was difficult to think in what direction to seek for information to start upon, but our old friends Lieutenant Tapplelton (K. M. Yeoman), Master Bardell (H. C. Hill), Count Smorltork (Shirley Fussell) and Serjeant Snubbin (J. W. Raybould) assisted with various old newspaper cuttings, run cards and early recollections, and thus formed a valuable nucleus to work upon. The minute books were, of course, the main guide to occurrences which were to take place, but they do not form a record of events performed. The Field: the Country Gentleman’s Newspaper (at that time the principal recorder of all sporting matters) had taken up cycling as soon as it began to develop, and at The Field office they very courteously allowed me to have access to the old volumes of their journal, from which much valuable matter was obtained. After a few years, when cycle racing began to attract attention and cycling journals bloomed forth in all their glory, Bicycling News became the chief organ of the sport, and I cannot say too much to thank Mr. S. R. Noble, the Secretary of the National Cyclists’ Union, for his kindness in allowing me the use of the volumes of that journal in their library upon all occasions when I wished to refer to them. From those volumes was obtained, as it were, a bird’s eye view of the busy and brilliant doings of the cycling world at its most active period, doings with which our old Club was intimately associated, and the memories of which – Race Meetings, Hampton Court Meets, and other gay functions – must endure as long as life lasts, in the minds of those of our old members who took part in them. Those records took me down to the time when Count Smorltork, as Hon. Secretary, instituted the Monthly Circular to members, and from those circulars I have been enabled to complete this humble work, for which I can only claim that it is as complete a history as I have been able to make it of the Club’s doings from June 22nd, 1870, to the end of the year 1904.

Hon. Mr. Crushton

New River House
Rosebery Avenue, E.C.
May, 1905.

1870 TO 1904

As the veteran cyclist and clubmen of over thirty years’ standing (now, alas! no longer young) takes his walks abroad, or his sober ride awheel, as the case may be, he will think, perchance with a sigh, that, of the hundreds of riders he will meet, how very few know anything of the kind of cycling that he knew in his younger days – in days when it was a dangerous thing for a cyclist to ride alone; when he was considered fair sport for the hooligan of the period, who was not particular whether it was a brick or an epithet, frequently both, that he hurled; when riders had to be able and ready to use their fists in self protection, at a moment’s notice, if need be, and each man, so to speak, carried his life in his hand. In those dark ages of cycling – when the sensation of riding on wheels was a novelty, and the old bone-shaker, with its iron tyres and wooden spokes, was looked upon as quite a fiery steed by its owner – a few friends, residing in the northern suburbs of London, full of the freshness of youth, and eager for “travel and adventure”, embarked upon the pursuit of the coming popular pastime, and arranged outings together for their mutual enjoyment and good fellowship. A few such excursions as those soon led the friends to form the idea of associating themselves still more closely by forming a club, at which meetings could be held for social intercourse, and the discussion of matters relating to their pastime, in a way which could not be done in the interval occurring during the course of a ride out in the country. With this end in view, a meeting was held on the 22nd day of June, 1870, at the Downs Hotel, Hackney Downs, there being present on that occasion Messrs. J. A. Johnson, Jno. Bryant, W. E. Maverly, K. M. Yeoman, L. C. B. Yeoman and D. S. Medcalf, in all six good men and true.

Mr J. A. Johnson was voted to the Chair. The first resolution passed was, of course, that a club should be formed; after which came various other resolutions relating to the admission of new members, the officers of the club, and subscription. Then happened a very curious thing, which goes far to show that Pickwickian (Club) ideas at that time must have been very much of the “Garden of Eden” order, whatever they may have become since - I give the words of the motion exactly as in the minute book, so that there may be no mistake: “It was proposed by Mr. W. E. Maverly and seconded by Mr. L. C. B. Yeoman, “That the club uniform be simply a white straw hat with a black and amber ribbon””; and as there appears no record of any opposition, we may conclude that the proposition was duly carried. Simplicity, indeed! More simple, and easier to carry about, than some uniforms of a later day, consisting of more parts, and glorified with military froggings and other adornments dear to the soul of the wearer.

Mr. K. M. Yeoman was elected Captain, and Mr. L. C. B. Yeoman, Hon. Secretary, and with these two officers, the Club, which has been destined to see already thirty-three years of existence, started on a career which has not been without adventure, and which has certainly contributed greatly to the health and happiness of its members. It has seen its ups and downs, its pleasures and sorrows, and has come triumphantly through all with an unblemished record; and is now, thanks to the good management of its officers and the loyalty of its members, in a more prosperous condition than ever.

It may here be noted that, of the six original members, the founders of the Club, three are distinctly in evidence: W. E. Maverly (Sam Weller) occasionally puts in an appearance, to the great delight of all who know him. K. M. Yeoman (now Lieut. Tappleton) is a constant attendant at headquarters, and defeats many of the younger members at billiards in a benign and fatherly manner, to the mutual joy of both players. Poor old Jack Bryant was occasionally with us till a year or two ago, when his health broke down, and he went abroad, but is in correspondence with some of his old friends.

At that first meeting, it was decided that the Downs Hotel should be the general rendezvous for bi-weekly excursions on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The first meeting having had such important matters as those enumerated to settle, there was no room for anything else; so the momentous question of nomenclature was held over till another meeting, which was specially convened to consider it, on the 6th day of July, 1870, when J. Bryant took the Chair. Several names were proposed and discussed, but none that seemed to meet with general approval, till a happy idea occurred. Charles Dickens had but recently quitted for ever the sphere of his immortal labours (he died on 9th June, 1870), and his death caused a wave of sorrowful enthusiasm with regard to his writings, and a general desire to associate his name or works with any undertaking which might be suitable for the purpose: and here seemed an ideal opportunity – “Pickwick” was suggested and found favour – then, on the proposal of Mr. J. A. Johnson, it was decided to name the new body “The Pickwick Bicycle Club,” and it was further agreed that each member should be known by a sobriquet selected from the characters in the Pickwick Papers, and is addressed by that name at all club meetings; the Captain always to be Samuel Pickwick, Esq., during his tenure of that office. The sobriquets were in the first place balloted for, with the following results (K. M. Yeoman, of course, being Mr. Pickwick); J. A. Johnson, Mr Jingle; J. Bryant, Tracy Tupman; W. E. Maverly, Sam Weller; L. C. B. Yeoman, Serjeant Buzfuz; and D. S. Medcalf, Mr Wardle.

The incidents already referred to having formed the inception and constitution of the Club, we are now able to start upon an account of its doings, as far, at least, as early records available will allow us. The “Excursions”, as they appear to be termed in the accounts, did not at first extend beyond the delightful region of Epping Forest and the surrounding towns and villages, halts being usually made on such rides at the Eagle, at Snaresbrook, or the George, at Woodford. It was upon one of these occasions, tradition hath it, that Jack Bryant represented the party in an “animated discussion” with an abusive and pugilistic butcher; with a result, however, not sufficiently decisive to entirely satisfy the requirements of Mr. Tracy Tupman; though when “the boys” again passed that way, a week or two later, prepared for eventualities, it was noted that that butcher was nowhere to be seen.

On looking through the old minutes, one cannot help being amused at the kind of military discipline and method which ruled the excursions of the Club in those times, when to disobey the command of the Captain was a crime almost deserving of capital punishment; and when strict obedience was exacted to the riding rules and regulations laid down. In this connection, it appears that, in September, 1870, a system of signals by whistle was established, for the guidance of members when riding together on dark winter evenings. One sharp whistle signified “caution”; one long whistle, “gathering or closing up”; two whistles, “stoppage”; and three, “distress”. (It here occurs to the writer of these notes that, if a poor youth in distress were being assaulted by a rough, before he could blow three times he might get the whistle knocked down his throat.) From the fact of nothing being stated to the country, it may be assumed that the use of these whistles was to be general among the riders, and it can easily be imagined that the signals frequently got mixed up; and this appears to be borne out by a later minute) though the system continued for two years), for in September, 1872, the rule was revised, and it was then decided that a whistle may be carried by each member, but must be used only by the Captain and Sub-Captain.


The first “Open Meeting” of the Season was fixed for March 25th, 1871, the run being to the King’s Head, at Chigwell; and it seems to have been conducted on much the same lines – in a smaller way – as the “Opening” and “Closing” meetings afterwards held at the Forest Hotel, Chingford, commencing with a high tea, followed by a convivial evening, contributed to, in the matter of song, etc., by those who were able to do so. Each member had the privilege of inviting two friends.

At a meeting held on September 28th, 1871, it was decided that the Club have a “Pickwickian Feed” on Saturday, October 7th, to be held at the King’s Head, Chigwell. This was the first of the “Annual Dinners,” which function has been continued from year to year, and, like the rolled snowball, has so increased in size, that the number on the occasion of the 1901 dinner reached a total of over one hundred and fifty members and friends.


The opening meeting of 1872 was fixed for April 27th, and the run was to be to the Welsh Harp, at Hendon; and it was decided to advertise the event in The Field, The Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, and The North Londoner. It may be mentioned here that the practice of advertising the Club’s doings has been discontinued for many years, and it is difficult now to see what object was gained by it then.

In May, 1872, it was arranged to have monthly moonlight rides, the dates to be advertised in local papers – this, we suppose, was to give the “Dick Turpin” of the time a chance.

About this time there joined the Club W. H. J. Grout, whose name will be remembered by old riders as the inventor, afterwards, of a joint patent arrangement for tightening up spokes, and a wonderful notched tyre – the idea being, presumably, to prevent slipping, but which must have provided a plentiful fund of resistance to the exertions of the rider.

On June 19th, in the same year, a proposal was received from the Surrey Bicycle Club (founded only a few months after the Pickwick Bicycle Club), that the Pickwick Bicycle Club should amalgamate with it, and other clubs, with a view of forming “one monster club,” but, after due consideration, the Pickwicks unanimously decided to retain their individuality and title – a decision upon which I am sure all members of the present time may heartily congratulate themselves.

During the first two years of the Club’s existence, though the members had many pleasant gatherings, their numbers did not increase rapidly, and at the end of that period they only mustered sixteen members; but still, with that small increase, the desire grew for wider travel, and no doubt a spirit of emulation also with regard to other clubs which had now begun to spring into existence; and in July, 1872, we find that an outing was arranged to Tunbridge Wells, starting from Town on the Saturday before the August Bank Holiday, putting up at the Railway Bell at “the Wells”, and leaving for the return journey on Monday morning – so even then, it will be seen, it was thought necessary to allow the day to ride from Tunbridge Wells to London.

At the same meeting, at which the above arrangement was settled, it was also decided that, as the Club was increasing in numbers, it was necessary to draw up a set of rules for its better government, and a committee of five members was appointed for that purpose; our present friends, W. E. Maverly and K. M. Yeoman, being among the number.

At the meeting held on September 5th, 1872, the new rules were formulated and agreed to, and the first election of officers since the Club’s foundation took place. Two new offices were then created, those of Sub-Captain and Treasurer, the Treasurership being combined with the office of Hon. Secretary. The result of the voting was that Mr. Pickwick (K. M. Yeoman) was re-elected Captain by a large majority; Mr. Wardle (H. E. Watson), Sub-Captain; and Serjeant Buzfuz (L. C. B. Yeoman), Hon. Secretary and Treasurer; and the first Club run under the new rules was to take place on September 14th, to the George, at Enfield.

The Club now seemed to be going gaily, as in October we find that a Club photograph was to be taken, a copy of the rules supplied to each member, and various other matters indicating increasing energy and enterprise. At this time also (October 2nd), there appears the first mention of a Club race, when it was proposed to have such an event to Huntingdon, and that the prizes be paid for out of the entrance fees. Mr. Nupkins; Mr. Wardle and Serjeant Buzfuz were deputed to make the necessary arrangements.

These pioneers of the sport were not to be deterred by trifles; but the clerk of the weather appears to have had something to say on this occasion, and a week later we find it was proposed to postpone this race, owing to the unpropitious state of the weather and badness of the roads; and it requires no stretch of the imagination to conceive that a 50-mile road race, on heavy machines, at the latter part of the year, was no light undertaking in days before any “Roads Improvement Association” was thought of, even had the weather not been bad, and I am informed that this race never came off. A challenge received at the same time from the Middlesex Bicycle Club, for a number of their members to ride a 50-mile race against an equal number of Pickwickians, was declined for the same reason. In the same report is an announcement that Mr. J. Inwards, of The Field, was desirous of organizing a large meet of all the London Bicycle Clubs at Richmond Park, and asking if such an arrangement would be supported by the Pickwick Bicycle Club, when it was unanimously agreed to fall in with the idea, and endeavour to have a meeting of officers of the various Clubs to carry out Mr. Inward’s proposal.

There is a record in The Field, of October 5th, 1872, that “last Saturday some of the members of the Pickwick Bicycle Club rode from Hackney Downs to Chipping Ongar, in 1 hr. 50 m. Three of them, riding tension bicycles, returned to Chigwell against a head wind and over a bad road in1 hr. 10m.”

The second Annual Club Dinner was held at the Masons’ Tavern, on November 16th, 1872, though records do not tell us how many the company numbered, nor the menu provided; but it may be safely taken for granted that the occasion was enjoyed in the thoroughly Pickwickian manner which has always characterised the Club’s social gatherings. The captains of the Surrey and Middlesex Bicycle Clubs, and Mr. Inwards, were invited as the guests of the Clubs.

At a meeting held on December 4th, it was resolved to remove the headquarters to the Mitford Tavern, Amhurst Road, Hackney; and on the 11th of that month, the first meeting took place. It was then proposed that a Club Ball should be held at the Albion Hall, Dalston, on January 22nd, 1873; Messrs. Pickwick, Bob Sawyer, Serjeant Buzfuz, Rev. Mr. Stiggins, Snodgrass, and Tracy Tupman, being appointed stewards to carry out all arrangements. It was also decided to advertise the Ball three times in The Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, and to have two hundred large posters and one hundred window bills printed to further notify the great event. Although there is no written account, I am informed by Lieut. Tappleton that this Ball duly took place, and was a very successful gathering.


On the 2nd of April, 1873, it was decided that the opening meeting should take place at Chigwell, on the 19th of that month; the run starting from the Mitford Tavern, at 3.30 p.m. It was also decided that the Club photograph should be taken on the first Saturday in May, which was in due course successfully done.

Good Friday of 1873, fell on April 11th, and the Surrey Bicycle Club organized an Easter tour of four days, in which five Pickwickians took part. A lengthy account of this excursion appeared in the Daily News of April 21st, with names of members and description of mount given in conspicuous detail. (I here note that our old members were evidently very proud of their sobriquets, for they figure in newspaper accounts and race meeting programmes alike, and must have caused vast amusement to the uninitiated). In the account referred to, Mr. Pickwick is described as riding a 44-inch wheel; Mr. Wardle, a 47-inch; Tracy Tupman, a 48-inch; Bob Sawyer, a 44-inch; and Mr. Snodgrass, a 48-inch There were five members of the Surrey Bicycle Club, headed by their captain, R. T. Caustoo. Starting from Kennington Oval (the Surrey B.C. headquarters) at 5.45 a.m., on Good Friday, the first day’s journey was to Margate, via Gravesend, Chatham, and Canterbury, the distance covered being 71 miles; the party reached their destination at 7.15 p.m., 13½ hours from the start. Next morning, Sandwich was reached at 8.20 a.m., the day’s run being to Rye, 60 miles; arriving at 7.20 p.m., about 12 hours from the start. Leaving at 8 o’clock next morning, breakfast at Hastings at 9.30, then by way of Eastbourne and Lewes to Brighton, 56 miles for the day. The fourth morning, Easter Monday, commenced with a run before breakfast, out and back, and the party left Brighton at 10.50 for home, reaching the Oval at 9.10 p.m. The tour seems to have been very much enjoyed, though somewhat chequered by a few accidents and some bad roads, though the weather was good.

The first Club run was fixed for June 21st, 1873, to Ware, and to be a scratch race, a committee of five being appointed to carry out the arrangements; Serjeant Buzfuz acting as umpire. The first prize was to be provided from the entry fees, supplemented by a grant from the Club funds. A second prize was offered by Tracy Tupman, on condition that not less than four riders started – the race to take place whatever the weather might be, and the course from the Mitford Tavern to the Royal Oak, Ware. This event came off under favourable conditions, with the following result: Tracy Tupman (48-inch) first, 1 h, 28 m.; Mr Pickwick (44-inch), 1 h. 34½ m. and Solomon Pell (W. Biddlecombe, 53-inch), 1 h. 39½ m.. One competitor rode Sam Weller’s machine, which, being painted a brilliant yellow, caused much amusement and some rude remarks. The prizes were presented at a Special Club Outing, at the King’s Head, Chigwell, on July 19th, when a tea and musical evening accompanied the interesting ceremony.

On July2nd of this year was elected, as an honorary member, Count Smorltork (Shirley Fussell), who remains an active member of the Club to the present day, and has served it in important official capacities, having twice occupied the Presidential Chair for the allotted year assigned to that office. His name will occur more than once in the chronicles that follow.

I now have before me the programme of a race meeting, held at the Royal Surrey Gardens, on August 9th, 1873, at which four of our members competed, their sobriquets being printed, as usual – Pickwick, Tupman, Wardle, and Snodgrass. It must have been very interesting racing, as the track was quite an improvised affair, being formed of boards laid down wherever a way could be found among the paths, flower beds, and the various landscape effects of the old gardens (as I remember them), making a track – such as it was, and tortuous withal – of about eight laps to the mile. To the best of my recollection, the site of these old gardens, with their nice lake and pretty floral arrangements, was all laid out for building not long after this time. The riding colors – scarlet, green, blue, pink, yellow, etc – look a bit gaudy at first sight; but I understand these were represented by a band around the hat, or a ribbon round the arm, and must have had a nice, bright effect on such a picturesque track, and a more useful index to the riders than the modern ticket number on the back, generally blown upside-down, with the number invisible. Lieut. Tappleton’s writing has not altered much in this space of over twenty-eight years (I did not know it then, but I do now, very well!), and his hand has clearly set forth in the margin of the programme the results of the races – three in number, showing that in the first, Mr. Wardle (H. E. Watson) finished second in the first heat; in the second, Tracy Tupman rode second in the second heat; while in the third, Mr. Pickwick (the Lieutenant himself) won both the first and final heats; and thus finished a (doubtless) very enjoyable meeting – though I expect the gardens were not quitted by the party until a later hour.

On a certain day in this same August, The Western Morning News announces the arrival, at Penzance, of Mr. Pickwick and Mr Tracy Tupman, and gives a detailed account of their travels, prefacing the same with a description of the machines they rode – 45 and 48-inch respectively. The first day’s journey was ninety-six miles, to Salisbury, the last thirty-five of which was ridden in pouring rain. The cathedral and Stonehenge were visited next morning, and forty-one miles, to Yeovil, were done that day. Then proceeding by way of Okehampton, Truro and Bodmin, to Redruth, where they had the new experience of descending the Pead-an-drea mine,. Arriving at Penzance, the travellers visited the Logan Rock and Land’s End, and came to what must have been a welcome halt, at the Western Hotel. They made the following memo of their ride: “Roads fair, scenery beautiful, head wind and wet weather. Average speed, seven miles an hour.” The account concludes with the statement that Messrs. Pickwick and Tupman would take the return journey easy; as, indeed, I think they deserved to, having actually been in the saddle forty-eight hours occupied between start and finish on the ride down.

Tally ho! The boys are busy still; they did not let the grass grow under their feet – or, rather, their wheels – for I find that there was to be a “Bicycle Contest” on September the 3rd, at Willesden (doubtless some long-forgotten and swept-away old track), and six of them entered, headed, of course, by the indefatigable Mr. Pickwick, the others being: Mr. Snodgrass (J. Woolford), Dr. Slammer (C. Forder), Ben Allen (A. Bredee), Tracy Tupman, and Mr. Wardle. Friend Tappleton can give me no information as to this meeting – he remembers that he did not, after all, go himself, and knows not what was done by the others.

On the 10th September there were races at Kennington Oval, under the auspices of the Surrey Bicycle Club, commencing at 6 p.m., “after the cricket match” (of which I have a handbill, and Mr. Pickwick’s competitor’s ticket), the events named being a Four-Mile Handicap, a One-Mile Handicap without hands, and a Hundred Yards Slow Race. As well as Mr. Pickwick, there entered Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Nupkins. No doubt they did their best to carry the Pickwick Bicycle Club colours to victory, but record hath it not that their attempts were crowned with success, nor gives any other information beyond the entries which I find in the minute book of the period.

Having been on the wheel some little time now, let us get back to the club-room, and we find that the annual election of officers took place on October 10th, when Mr. Pickwick (K. M. Yeoman) was unanimously re-elected Captain for the ensuing season, and Tracy Tupman Sub-Captain. Serjeant Buzfuz was re-elected Hon. Secretary and Treasurer.

The closing meeting of 1873 took place on October 25th, the run being to the Horse and Groom, Woodford Wells, where tea was provided, followed by the usual festive evening.

Later on, a special meeting was called, at which a committee was appointed to make arrangements for the holding of the Annual Dinner – styled on this occasion the “Pickwickian Banquet.” This was held at the Masons’ Tavern.


On January 20th, 1874, the first general committee was formed (this matter had been considered during the previous November), consisting of the officers of the club and three lay members, who should be elected by ballot, the Treasurership being then made a separate office – an election taking place there and then. The true Pickwick modesty here evinced itself, the first member named nominating another, and so on, until there were three candidates in the field, when a poll was taken, with the result that Mr. Snodgrass (J. Woolford) was declared duly elected Treasurer of the Pickwick Bicycle Club for the year ensuing. The selection for the committee fell upon Sam Weller (Mr. W. E. Maverly), Mr. Jingle (J. A. Johnson), Joe, the Fat Boy (T. Bolton); and at the February general meeting a resolution was passed empowering the committee to arrange all the general business of the Club, and to disburse such sums from the Club funds as they might think necessary for that purpose. On March 30th, the committee decided to meet every alternate Monday at nine o’clock, four to form a quorum, providing that one ordinary committee-man were present; and Sam Weller was elected Chairman of Committee for the year.

In April, some correspondence took place with the Middlesex Bicycle Club on the Amateur and Professional question, when the committee of the Pickwick Bicycle Club recorded their opinion that having raced for money prizes should be the only disqualification for a rider racing as an amateur. This question gave rise to much controversy for years, and I do not think has ever been settled to the entire satisfaction of cyclists and athletes at large.

The opening run of this year was on 18th April, to the King’s Head, Chigwell, and each member was to have the privilege of introducing a friend, and all the expenses to be paid out of the Club funds:

At the May meeting there seems to have been a rush for membership, no less than nine candidates being elected, among them Shirley Fussell, hitherto an honorary member, being placed on the active list, and adopting the sobriquet of Count Smorltork, which has since become so very familiar to all members. This sudden incursion evidently created a fear of overcrowding on the part of the old members, so it was decided that after this month the entrance fee should be raised from the modest sum of half-a-crown to five shillings, and, to further secure the selectness of the Club, the following restriction was imposed: “That no member of the Pickwick Bicycle Club should be a member of any other club, without the consent of the committee having been first obtained.”

During this month, a new member, Mr. H. Stanley Thorpe (Tom Smart), did what was in those days a notable ride, an account of which appeared in The Field of May 30th. Leaving Hertford at 3.40 a.m., and proceeding via St. Albans, Dunstable, and Stony Stratford (42 miles, 4 hrs. 35 m.), Towcester, Daventry (64 miles, 7 hrs. 35 m.) to Coventry, arriving at 1.20 p.m., 82 miles in 9 hours, 40 minutes, including stoppages. The return journey was commenced at 2.45 p.m., and Mr. Thorpe arrived home at 2.55 a.m. the following morning, having ridden the 164 miles in 23 hours, 15 minutes, including all stoppages. His machine was a 50-inch “Ariel,” weighing 66 lbs. This was a very fine performance for the time, looking at the weight of machine and condition of the roads, which were not nearly so well kept then as now. No doubt the youth of the present day would laugh consumedly at the rider’s statement that, on nearing home, “he increased his pace, to ten miles an hour”; but no matter, all things have a beginning, and it was such plucky performances as these that stirred other riders to greater deeds afterwards.

It is recorded that in this May, the Club had runs to Epping, Broxbourne, Totteridge, and Dorking. Those in June were to St. Albans, Chipping Ongar, Uxbridge, and Hertford.

A race from London to Ware was arranged for July 4th, there being fifteen entries, including Mr. Pickwick and Tracy Tupman, but Tom Smart (H. S. Thorpe) appears to have been at first shut out by his accidentally having been unable to send his entry in time, a circumstance which gave rise to rather a stormy meeting on July 1st, one party wanting to allow a post entry, and another being strongly opposed to it, the opposition gaining the day, though the matter was relegated to the further consideration of a special general meeting to be held on July 3rd, the evening before the race, at which the question was voted upon again, the previous decision being reversed in favour of Tom Smart.

Ample arrangements were made by the committee for carrying out the race. Of the fifteen entrants, five started from scratch, viz. : - Mr. Pickwick (K. M. Yeoman), Joe, the Fat Boy (T. Bolton), Tracy Tupman (J. Bryant), Mr. Snodgrass (J. Woolford), and Mr. Fogg (A. Hauxwell), the others receiving starts varying from 5 to 35 minutes; the limit man being Master Bardell (J. Pinder). A Mr. Stevenson was starter for the scratch men, and the Captain for the handicapped competitors. Sam Weller and Count Smorltork walked down from London for the occasion, and the Count acted as judge. The prizes were as follows:- First, a silver watch, presented by Messrs. Hartshorn & Baxter; Second, a cup, presented by Mr. Tracy Tupman; and the Third to consist of entry fees for the race, the winner to have the amount in whatever form he desired – but, from previous notes referring to the Amateur Definition, it must be inferred that the prize was not to be in money, but in kind. The result of the race was as follows: - The Rev. Mr. Stiggins (J. Lawson) proved himself a very easy winner, the Second place falling to Joe, the Fat Boy, and the Third to Master Bardell; but as there are no records of the times made, we cannot supply any further particulars. I think it may be taken for granted that a Pickwickian wind-up followed the race.

In The Field of July 18th, appears a very interesting account, written by the Hon. Ion Keith-Falconer, of an attempt made by himself and Tom Smart to ride from Highgate Archway to York, in 24 hours, or less. They started at midnight on July 9th, and “ran along at a fine pace through Barnet (eight miles), which we passed at 12.45.” When near Hitchin, Mr. Thorpe was thrown over the handles, but fortunately, was not much hurt, only contracting some gravel rash. At Wansford (85 miles), Mr Falconer was done up, and had to cry “go,” but Tom Smart stuck to his guns, and went on for another four hours, when, owing to the roads being very dusty, the sun fierce and the wind strong, he had to give up at Grantham, 114 miles. The time was about 14 hours, including stoppages for dinner, etc.. Mr. Thorpe rode a 52-inch “Ariel” (Smith & Starley), and Mr. Falconer a 53-inch “Spider,” by Thomas Sparrow. The latter part of Mr. Falconer’s communications consist of ten items of advice to cyclists, which look rather funny to read now, but which, as they will show the progress of ideas, may be interesting, and I here give them:-

  1. Before starting on a long journey, get a few hours’ sleep.
  2. Knickerbockers are the best things to ride in, and thick boots are better than thin ones.
  3. Bread and milk is one of the best things to take during the journey, being easy of digestion and very nourishing.
  4. Before starting on a journey, see that your saddle is quite straight and firmly fixed; if it is crooked you are sure to get sore.
  5. Lean well forward up the hills and against the wind; I have done a mile in four minutes by attending to this rule.
  6. Lamps are of little use, they rattle, and generally go out when shaken.
  7. Never forget to take a spanner and an oil can with you, however short the journey may be. Those who ride “Coventry Spiders” would do well also to take a pair of gas pliers to tighten the lock nuts, should they become loose.
  8. The best way to rest during a journey is to lie flat on the floor.
  9. If a long ride makes you feel ill the next day, jump on your bicycle and ride a few more miles. “Like cures Like.”
  10. Walk up very stiff hills, and don’t try to see how far you can go without dismounting.

– ION KEITH –FALCONER, The Vicarage, Hitchin.

With reference to the above ride, in a later issue of The Field (August 1st), appears a letter from Mr. Thorpe, stating that it was owing to a second “header” that he had to relinquish his task, his wrist being so badly sprained that he found it impossible to ride further, or he had hopes of being able to do what he set out for, having nine hours left in which to do eighty-seven miles.

The July Club runs were to St. Albans, Abridge, and, on the 25th, to Kennington Oval, to be present at the Surrey Bicycle Club races; the fixture to Watford having been cancelled to allow of that arrangement, some of the Pickwick Bicycle Club boys having entered for an Inter-Club Handicap.

An account of the Surrey Bicycle Club’s Race Meeting appeared in The Field of August 1st, and mention is there made of the presence of Mr. H. S. Thorpe, Mr Bolton and Mr. Yeoman, “all well known as long-distance riders,” and complimentary reference is made to the neatness of the riding-dress of the Pickwick men who competed. The account of the racing is somewhat lax, as the reporter has, in some cases, simply noted, “A member of the Pickwick Club,” such a one taking place in the first heat of the Four-Mile Handicap; though it must have been J. Bryant, on a 54-inch machine, as the second man is afterwards referred to as “Tupman”. It appears from this account that W. Biddlecombe (Solomon Pell), of the “Pickwick,” was also at the same time a member of the “Surrey,” as his name occurs several times as riding for the latter club; he took third place in the first heat; Mr. Pickwick rode in the second heat, but did not score honours; “Two other members of the Pickwick Club” also rode in this heat, but their names come last in the account. In the final heat, it is evidently Tracy Tupman, a member of the Pickwick Bicycle Club (54-inch), who takes third place. The handicap was won by H. Howard, Surrey Bicycle Club with 350 yards start; the time for 3 miles,1,410 yards being 15 m. 56 s., not bad at that date, on the old well-known Oval grass track.

In the Five-Mile Handicap (in one heat), open to members of London Clubs, Joe, the Fat Boy (T. Bolton), came in third.

It may be here incidentally mentioned that at that time a practice appeared to prevail in the Surrey & Middlesex Bicycle Clubs, of racing for the posts of Captain and Sub-Captain; on the above occasion it was a four-mile race, and was won by R. T. Causton, J. H. Sewell taking second honours.

The Club runs for August were to Guildford, Chigwell (the King’s Head), Rickmansworth, Brentwood (the White Hart), and St. Albans (the George).

In September, an invitation was received from the Surrey Bicycle Club to enter for their forthcoming races, but the committee decided not to do so on this occasion.

The runs for September were to Enfield, Loughton, Broxbourne, and Rainham, via Barking.

On October 7th, a meeting took place at headquarters, for the election of officers for the ensuing year, when the following were returned: Captain, Mr. Pickwick (K. M. Yeoman); Sub-Captain, Bill Stumps (W. Addinell); Treasurer, Count Smorltork (S. Fussell); Hon. Secretary, Serjeant Buzfuz (L. C. B. Yeoman). There was quite a brisk competition for Committee places, and out of six candidates the following were elected: Sam Weller (W. E. Maverly), Mr. Fogg (A. Hauxwell), and Master Bardell (J. Pinder). Sam Weller was subsequently elected Chairman of Committee for the year.

At this meeting it was suggested that, as but little riding would be done during the dark evenings, a Winter Social Club should be formed at the Mitford Tavern, to keep the numbers together; and this was referred to the committee for report to a special general meeting. The committee met on the 12th, and after fully discussing the matter, passed the following resolutions:- “That the Pickwick Social Club be opened for the season on Tuesday, October 20th, 1874.” “That the club-room open at 8 p.m., and close at 12 o’clock midnight.” “That the musical evenings be Tuesday in every week.” ”That the officers and committee take charge of the club-room in the following order: October 20th, Sam Weller; 21st, Mr. Fogg; 22nd, Bill Stumps; 23rd, Count Smorltork; 24th, Serjeant Buzfuz; 26th, Mr. Pickwick; 27th, Master Bardell; and that the Hon. Secretary be authorised to purchase cards, chess, draughts, dominoes, and copies of illustrated and other papers for the use of members.”

The recommendations of the committee were duly accepted, and confirmed by the special general meeting, held on the 16th October.

The working of this Social Club was found to be very successful; the usual musical evenings and general amusements being varied at times by a little boxing, and other exercises of a more vigorous kind; and many very pleasant winter evenings were spent at these meetings.

At the October meeting it was proposed by Mr. Tracy Tupman, and seconded by Master Bardell, and carried unanimously, that the Club close the season by holding a dinner at the Masons’ Hall Tavern, City; the arrangements to be left in the hands of the officers and committee; it being afterwards decided by them that the day should be November21st, and the Hon. Secretary to be authorised to guarantee that thirty would sit down. The committee decided to invite Mr. Inwards, of The Field, and Mr. R. T. Causton, captain of the Surrey Bicycle Club, as guests of the Pickwick Bicycle Club.

In the Daily News of October 15th, is a very interesting account of a tour to the English lakes and the Isle of Man, by Messrs. Pickwick, Tracy Tupman, Bill Stumps, and Tom Smart. The journey commenced on the evening of Wednesday, the 16th September, and the party stayed at St. Albans for that night. The next day their destination was Market Harborough, via Dunstable, Woburn, Newport Pagnall, and Northampton. Being caught in a heavy Scotch mist soon after starting, a delay of three hours was caused at Dunstable, where they partook of breakfast, and had to wait while their wet clothes were being dried, being furnished in the meantime with garments by the kindly landlord of the Saracen’s Head; the end of the day’s run was reached at 9 o’clock. The next day (third) to Ashbourn, by way of Leicester, Loughborough, and Derby, where they were royally entertained and refreshed by the ex-mayor; proceeding, their destination was reached at 7 p.m. The fourth day’s ride was to Manchester. Between Leek and Macclesfield our riders had the opportunity of displaying their sporting capacity by racing for six miles against a fine pair of horses in a carriage occupied by three gentlemen, but after the distance named, as the gee-gees could not get away, their driver gave up the contest, and gracefully retired into the rear, and no doubt the “boys” were gratified at the result. No riding appears to have been done on the fifth day (Sunday), and on Monday rain stopped any further progress for the time. On Tuesday, the seventh day, Garstang was reached, and on the following, after a good run, the party reached Bowness on Lake Windermere, where they stayed till the following Friday, during which time visits were made to the other lakes, and places usually inspected by tourists. On Saturday (eleventh day), Douglas, Isle of Man, was reached, where a stay was made till Monday morning, when the party left by boat for Liverpool. At Coventry, on the return journey, a visit was made to Messrs. Haynes & Jeffries extensive “Ariel” Bicycle Works. The route then continued through Dunchurch, Daventry., and Towcester. The last day’s ride was by way of Stony Stratford, Dunstable, and St. Albans; landing the riders back at headquarters at 7.30 p.m., the 1st of October, after a run of 500 miles, accompanied with very few casualties. Bob Sawyer (W. Clarke) appears to have joined the party, though the account does not state where. This tour evidently created much interest in the various towns the riders passed through; there being a special account in a Loughborough paper, under the heading, “Bicycling Extraordinary,” and describing the tourists as being clad in the well-known colours of the Club, purple and silver. The Manx Sun, of October 3rd, not only gives a paragraph on the performance, but actually launches out into a poem of ten four-line verses – a very heroic production.

At the meeting on the 16th October, was elected a member who is in evidence to-day, and has always preserved a strong personality, not infrequently of the combative kind in debate, in the history of the Club. I allude to John W. (Jack) Beningfield (Grummer), now Colonel of the 4th V.B. Essex Regiment; and many a breezy meeting has been participated in by him and Tracy Tupman, another one somewhat given to the “warpath.” Grummer was the third captain of the Club, and the second member President, succeeding W. E. Maverly as such in 1891; he was also the first Worshipful Master of the Pickwick Lodge, No. 2467, which was founded in 1893, by ten old members of the Club. His name will occur again in the course of our story.

A special run was arranged to take place to the Castle, Woodford, on December 12th, wet or dry.


At the general meeting on the 3rd February, 1875, a compulsory “uniform” rule was made, to the effect that each member, when on Club outings, should wear a black cap with amber pipings.

It would appear at this time that the Surrey Bicycle Club were desirous of forming a “Bicycle Association.” And Mr. Howard, the Hon. Secretary of that club, invited the Pickwick Bicycle Club to send delegates to attend a meeting to be convened for that purpose; but this the committee of the Pickwick Bicycle Club resolved not to do.

At the same meeting, the Hon. Secretary was requested to write to Sir C. Reed, one of the Members of Parliament for Hackney, inviting him to accept the Presidency of the Club, but this does not appear to have met with an affirmative response. It was also decided to communicate with the secretary of the Alexandra Palace Company, with a view to using the cycling track in the grounds for race meetings to be promoted by the Club. This was accordingly done, but as the terms offered by the Company were prohibitive, nothing further was done in the matter.

At the general and special meeting on 3rd of March, various alterations were made in the rules, the most important being that candidates for membership should send in their names to the Hon. Secretary to be submitted to the committee, and if all the conditions were satisfactory, that the applicant should be elected by the committee, such election being confirmed by the next general meeting; and this excellent rule still exists.

In March and April, on the initiative of Mr. E. A. Swann (Don Bolaro Fizzgig), a separate Branch of the Club was formed at Woodford, under the following rules:-
 “That the branch be governed by all the rules of the Pickwick Bicycle Club, but permitted to finance itself.”
 “That a member upon nomination must state to which section of the Club he desires to belong.”
 “That each member of the branch shall pay the entrance fee to headquarters, and for each succeeding year the branch shall be responsible for the sum of 2s. 6d., payable in advance, for every such member.”
 “That the branch be allowed to send one representative on the committee for every ten members of the branch.”
 “That the branch have power to elect all its local officers.”
 “That on all Club outings, the branch ride under the command of the captain or his representative from headquarters.”

This new departure was approved by the general meeting held on April 7th, and the branch started under the captaincy of Mr. C. W. Smith (Wilkins Flasher), of Snaresbrook.

The opening run of the season was fixed for Saturday, April 10th, to the King’s Head, Chigwell, to be followed by the usual high tea and musical evening. An invitation was received from the West Middlesex Bicycle Club to join them in a grand meet, which they were organising to take place at Hampton Court, but as this happened to fall on the same day as the Pickwick Bicycle Club opening run, the committee could not see their way to accept the invitation.

It turned out that the weather on the 10th April was very bad, and only two riders met at Hampton Court Gates, and neither of those were wearing the West Middlesex uniform. Also only two Pickwick Bicycle Club men went to Chigwell for the opening run, which tends to show that the weather must have been very bad indeed.

At the general meeting held on April 7th, John Holms, Esq., M.P. for Hackney, was elected the first President of the Club.

The runs for April were:- 10th, Opening; 17th, Woodford, The Castle; 24th, Broxbourne, The Crown.

During this month, it was decided to maintain a permanent club-room through the summer months, in continuation of the winter club, and the landlord of the Mitford Tavern was approached on the subject, and very liberally offered to present the amount received by him for rent to the Club for the purchase of prizes.

At the general meeting on May 5th, the question of holding Club races (presumably track races) was discussed, and it was decided that it was not advisable to make such races open to members of other clubs.

The runs for May were:- 1st, Enfield, The George; 8th, Broxbourne, The Crown; 15th, St Albans, The Peahen; 22nd, Abridge, The White Hart; and the 29th, Ware, The Saracen’s Head; this last being afterwards altered to the Alexandra Park.

On May 24th, the committee discussed the question of having a Tripe Supper, on June 22nd, to celebrate the fifth Anniversary of the Club’s foundation, and instructed the Hon. Secretary to bring the matter before the next general meeting.

The fixtures for June were:- 5th Ware, The Saracen’s Head; 12th, Lambourne End, The Beehive; 19th, Brentwood, The White Hart; 26th, Barnet, The Red Lion.

At the general meeting, on June 2nd, a question was discussed which members thought might have an injurious effect on the amateur status of the Club: that being the fact that Mr. J. Woolford (Mr. Snodgrass) being a manufacturer of cycles, might be considered to rank as a professional, and the Hon. Secretary was requested to give Mr. Woolford formal notice that the matter had been considered by the members, and would be brought forward at the next general meeting. This meeting was held on July 7th, when Mr. Snodgrass was present, and the matter was fully discussed, the meeting being generally of opinion that he was a professional. The chairman asked him whether he was prepared to hand in his resignation, but this he declined to do; whereupon a requisition was at once handed in by Messrs. Pickwick, Grummer, and Bill Stumps, for a special general meeting, to be summoned for Friday, July 16th, for the purpose of officially calling upon Mr. Snodgrass to resign, and in the event of his persisting in not doing so, to bring Rule No. 17 into force.

At the special general meeting, held as above, the Hon. Secretary reported that Mr. Woolford had not sent in his resignation, whereupon it was proposed by Bill Stumps, and seconded by Mr. Pickwick, that Rule 17 be enforced. The voting was by ballot, with the result that the motion was carried by a majority of five votes, and Mr. Woolford ceased to be a member of the Club. In order to show that there was no intention to harshness or ill-feeling in the matter, it was unanimously resolved that a vote of personal appreciation be passed to Mr. Woolford, and that he be presented with a testimonial bearing record of the same.

With regard to Club races, the ideas of the committee appear to have undergone some change, for on June 14th it was proposed to hold a one and a five-mile race, and the Hon. Secretary was instructed to write to the Alexandra Palace Company, and ask whether they would grant the use of their track and subscribe towards an open race or races, to be held towards the end of July; and at a subsequent meeting Serjeant Buzfuz (Hon. Secretary) and Count Smorltork were deputed to interview Mr. Brown, of the Company, upon the subject.

The runs for July were:- 3rd, Brighton, Albion Hotel, starting from Kennington Church at 3 p.m.; 10th, Harlow; 17th, Lambourne End; 24th, Broxbourne, The Crown; 31st. Totteridge.

For August:- 7th, Epping, Thatched House; 14th, Alexandra Park Races; 21st, Southend, meet at headquarters at 3 o’clock; 28th, St Albans.

It was decided by the committee that they should wear Steward’s badges at the race meeting on 14th August, in the form of a shield having a Club device, and at a meeting on August 4th, a letter was read from the Woodford Branch offering to subscribe the sum of three guineas towards the expenses of the meeting. The handicapping for the two Club events took place on August 6th. For the one-mile event, in two heats, there were 26 entries, the scratch men being Messrs. K. M. Yeoman and F. Nisbet, and the limit men Messrs. Larette and Beningfield, each receiving 140 yards start. In the second event, a four-mile handicap in two heats, there were 22 entries; Messrs. H. Smith, Boor, and Nisbet being scratch, and C. P. Bond limit, with 400 yards start.

The outings for September were fixed as follows:- 4th, to Surrey Bicycle Club Races at Kennington Oval; 11th, to London Bicycle Club Races at Lillie Bridge; 18th, Ware, Saracen’s Head; 25th, Chigwell, King’s Head, meeting the Woodford Branch at their headquarters.

At the Surrey Bicycle Club Race Meeting on September 4th, held at Kennington Oval, the following results were placed to the credit of members of the Pickwick Bicycle Club:-

FOUR-MILE OPEN HANDICAP. First Prize, value 12 guineas; Second, value 5 guineas;
Third, value 3 guineas.


First Heat F. Nisbet, P.B.C. 200 yards start 1
Second Heat Herbert Smith, P.B.C. 250 yards start 2
Final Heat Noel Whiting, London B.C. 1
Final Heat F. Nisbet, P.B.C. 2
Won by 5 yards. Time, 13m. 36½ s.

On September 6th, Messrs. K.M. Yeoman and Addinell were deputed to attend a meeting being organized by the London Bicycle Club with a view of discussing arrangements for an Amateur Championship race. This meeting was held on the following day at Villiers Street, Strand, the following Clubs being represented:- The London Bicycle Club, Pickwick Bicycle Club, Dark Blue Bicycle Club, St. George’s Bicycle Club, Surrey Bicycle Club, Richmond Bicycle Club, Southsea Bicycle Club, and Tunbridge Wells Bicycle Club. It was then decided to hold a further meeting at the Charing Cross Hotel, on November 16th, at 6 p.m., to arrange for running a Ten-Mile Championship Race, to take place in the month of April, 1876. Mr. G. Warrington, of the St. George’s Bicycle Club, was elected Hon. Secretary for the occasion.

At the London Bicycle Club Race Meeting, held at Lillie Bridge on September 11th, the Pickwick Bicycle Club were represented as follows:-

  FIVE-MILE OPEN HANDICAP. First Prize, value £20; Second, value £7; Third, value £3.

The final heat was won by F. Nisbet with 250 yards start, after a magnificent race with Noel Whiting (London B.C.), who received a similar allowance. Herbert Smith was also riding in this race; he ran third in the third heat.

The runs for October were:- 2nd, Enfield, The George; 9th, Chingford, The Bull & Crown; 16th, Abridge, The White Hart; 23rd, Barnet, The Red Lion; and 30th, Woodford, The Castle.

Satisfactory arrangements having been made with the Alexandra Palace Company, the race meeting arranged for the 14th August duly took place, the Company presenting a valuable set of prizes for the Five-Mile Open Handicap.

The officials were:- Referee, Mr. Vandy; Judge, Mr. H.P. Whiting; Starter, Mr. L.C.B. Yeoman; while Mr. G. Brown acted as Clerk of the Course. There were three events:-

  CLUB 0NE-MILE HANDICAP. First Prize, value 5 guineas; Second, value 2 guineas;
  Third, value 1 guinea.

First Heat. J.R.F. Wood 50 yards start 1
Second Heat. Herbert Smith Scratch 1
Final Heat. Herbert Smith 1
Final Heat. H. Matthews 2
Final Heat. J.R.F. Wood 3
Time, 3 m. 42 s.

  CLUB FOUR-MILE HANDICAP. First Prize, value 10 guineas; Second, value 3 guineas;
  Third, value 2 guineas.

First Heat. Herbert Smith Scratch 1
Second Heat. J. Bryant 8 yards start 1
Final Heat. Herbert Smith 1
Final Heat. R.G. Lane 250 yards 2
Final Heat. T.H. Gifford 160 yards start 3
Time, 16 m.

  FIVE-MILE OPEN HANDICAP. First Prize, value 20 guineas; Second, value 7 guineas;
  Third, value 3 guineas. All presented by the Alexandra Palace Company.

First Heat. T.G. Nevill London B.C.
Second Heat. R. McKennon Brighton A.C. 290 yards 1
Final Heat. R. Taylerson Surrey B.C. Scratch 1
Final Heat. F. Nisbet Pickwick B.C. 300 yards 2
Final Heat. H. Osborne Surrey B.C. 70 yards 3
Time, 18 m. 30 s.

The election of officers for the ensuing year took place at the general meeting held on the 20th October, with the following results:- President, John Holmes, Esq., M.P., proposed by Count Smorltork, seconded by Serjeant Buzfuz, and unanimously elected; Captain, K.M. Yeoman; Sub-Captain, Mr. W. Addinell; Hon. Secretary, Mr. L.C.B. Yeoman; Treasurer, Mr. Shirley Fussell.

There were 10 candidates for the three seats on the Committee, and of these Mr. C.H. Larette (Mr. Peter Magnus), Mr. W.T. Wilkinson (Mr. Smangle), and Mr. J. Pinder (Master Bardell), were elected. Sam Weller (W.E. Maverly), who had been Chairman of Committee during the previous year, declined to stand again on this occasion, and a hearty vote of thanks was accorded him for his services. Count Smorltork was unanimously elected as Sam Weller’s successor to the chair.
It was decided at a committee meeting, held on October 26th, that the Annual Club Dinner should be held at Masons’ Hall Tavern, on Saturday, November 27th, and the Hon. Secretary was empowered to guarantee (if required) that thirty members would sit down.

The captain of the London Bicycle Club was the guest of the Club on this occasion. Mr. T.B. Yeoman (father of Mr. Pickwick) occupied the chair, with Mr. K.M. Yeoman and W. Addinell in the vice-chairs.



The committee arranged, at a meeting on January 31st, that a “knife-and-fork tea” should take place at the Castle, at Woodford, on Saturday, March 4th. A special meeting was held on February 7th, to consider the question of hiring the Lillie Bridge Grounds on March 11th, for a race between Mr. E. Tyler, of the Surrey Bicycle Club (late of the Pickwick B.C.), and Mr. F. Nisbet, of the Pickwick Bicycle Club, when it was resolved as follows: “That the Pickwick Bicycle Club take the Lillie Bridge Ground on the occasion of the race “Nisbet v. Tyler,” paying Mr. Chambers (the proprietor) one half of the gate money for the same, the Club giving a prize to the winner, of not less value than £10. Messrs. Larette, Pinder and Nisbet, were deputed to see Mr. Chambers and Mr. Tyler, and make arrangements. At a committee meeting on February 11th it was decided to send two tickets to each of the Sporting papers, and that each member of the committee have a free ticket. The following papers to be presented at the meeting:- The Field, Bell’s Life, Sporting Life, Sportsman, Sporting Gazette, Morning Advertiser, Daily News, and Kingsland Gazette.”

There is no account of this race, for which such elaborate preparations had been made, in The Field, but in a short biography of Mr. Tyler, which appeared in The Bicycling Times of February 27th, 1879, I find the following: “On the 11th March, 1876, at Lillie Bridge, he defeated by 100 yards, F. Nisbet, off the 300 yards mark, Nisbet conceding 180 yards. Time, 13 m. 35 s.” This makes the affair look incomprehensible; but I am indebted to Mr. Tyler himself for the following explanation, given after a lapse of nearly twenty-seven years from the occurrence of the event:- There had been a five-mile handicap, promoted by the St. George’s Bicycle Club, ridden at Lillie Bridge, on 27th October, 1875, and both Mr. Tyler and Mr. Nisbet were qualified to ride in the final heat, but when the time arrived Nisbet did not put in an appearance, and Tyler won the heat. Mr. Nisbet afterwards declared that he had not been notified of the time, and expressed great dissatisfaction with the result, asserting that it would have been otherwise had he been there. The Club stood by their champion, and being desirous of giving him a chance of proving his prowess, arranged a race between the two competitors on handicap terms – Tyler starting from 300 yards mark, and Nisbet from the 120 yards – with the result before stated. Mr. Tyler ascribes his victory to the fact that he kept in training all through the winter, and was riding on the Lillie Bridge track nearly every day."  


February. – A letter from Mr. J. Inwards, of the London Bicycle Club, was received, with reference to a grand meet at some future date, and Messrs. K.M. Yeoman and Addinell were deputed to attend the meeting when called. 


The fixtures for April were:- 1st, Chigwell, The King’s Head (wet or dry); 8th, Enfield, The George; 15th, Loughton, The Crown; 22nd, Waltham (via Chingford), The Railway Hotel; 29th, Totteridge, The Orange Tree. 


On March 20th, a letter was received from the Surrey Bicycle Club, proposing a joint Club run to Brighton, on Saturday, June 3rd, and it was decided to accept the invitation – meeting at Kennington Oval at three o’clock p.m., and putting up at the Albion Hotel, at Brighton. I can find no account of this outing, but as it was duly announced in the “fixture” list in The Field, we may assume that it took place, and, of course, in a satisfactory manner, as usual – indeed, it was the only fixture recorded for the month of June, as racing arrangements seem to have occupied the Club mind considerably at this time. 


At the above-mentioned committee meeting, the Hon. Secretary was desired to communicate with the Alexandra Park Company, with reference to another race meeting, on or about the last Saturday in June; and to enquire whether the Company would meet the Club in the same manner as they did on the occasion of the meeting last year. A reply was received stating that the Company would offer prizes to the value of £20, but this was not accepted by the Club, and Mr. Fussell and the Hon. Secretary were authorised to arrange another meeting with the Company’s manager. This seems to have taken place successfully, for there is a note recorded on the 26th April, that “the terms offered by the Alexandra Palace Company be accepted.” 


It was resolved to have an Easter outing, leaving headquarters on Good Friday morning, at eight a.m., and making a tour via Cambridge and Oxford, and home again. 


At this time the now well-known Club badge – the plain monogram, “P.B.C.” in gold on a cloth back – was instituted, as on the 27th March the committee ordered that two dozen of the badges should be purchased. 


On April 22nd, there were some bicycle races at the Alexandra Park, promoted by the Company, in which Pickwick Bicycle Club men took part. 


The Alexandra Park Amateur Cup (5 miles) was won by the Hon. Ion Keith-Falconer, who reached the tape 300 yards in front of F. Nisbet; time 17 m. 53 s. 


In another race (a 5-mile handicap for amateurs), F. Nisbet rode second in the fourth heat. J. Bryant was also riding, but was not placed. 


The fixtures for May were:- 6th Hampton Court Meet; 13th, Lambourne End, Beehive; 20th, Hartford, Dimsdale Arms; 27th, Harlow, The George. 


Second Hampton Court Meet. – On the 6th May, the proposed great meet at Hampton Court took place, the occasion being favoured this time with glorious weather, and a gathering numbering from 400 to 450 cyclists assembled at the Park gates. A preliminary meeting of the captains of clubs was held at the King’s Arms Hotel, too receive the returns of the numbers of each club, and to decide on the order of procession. The “Pickwick,” as the oldest club, was unanimously chosen to take the lead; with the Surrey Bicycle Club second, and so on in order of seniority, and the riders, forming up two abreast, headed by Captain K.M. Yeoman, then started on a circular ride by way of Hampton and Teddington, entering Bushey Park at the end, and creating much admiration by their orderly and smart appearance as they passed along the well-known avenue of chestnuts. The Pickwick did not come first in point of numbers, that honour being reserved for the London Bicycle Club, whose men turned up 72 strong; than came the Pickwick with 47; then the Surrey Bicycle Club, 31; the Temple Bicycle Club, 30; the Wanderers, 16; New Wandsworth, 15; St. George, 14; South London Harriers, 12; Ramblers, 14; Wimbledon Stragglers, 14; North Surrey, 13; Amateurs, 12; Middlesex, 12; Kent, 8; and Sutton Nondescripts, 7; together with many who joined after the numbers were handed in, and several unattached riders. On returning to the starting point, the clubs betook themselves to various hotels in the neighbourhood, where dinners were provided. About eight o’clock the homeward rides were started, and Hampton Court soon resumed its usual quietude; and, to quote the words of The Sporting Life report, “thus was brought to a conclusion, the most successful and largest gathering of cyclists ever held.” 


On the 9th May, the committee decided to recommend that the programme of the proposed race meeting comprise an open race of five miles, and a Club race of four miles. The Club prizes to be: First, value 10 guineas; Second, value 3 guineas; and Third, value 2 guineas. Entrance fee, 2s. 6d. 


The Open race prizes: First, value 15 guineas; Second, value 3 guineas; and Third, value 2 guineas. Entrance fee, 2s. 6d. 


In The Field, of the 17th June, there is an account of another ride by Tom Smart (H. Stanley Thorpe), who this time succeeded in riding from London to York within the twenty-four hours. It would seem that Mr. Thorpe had made no less than three previous attempts to accomplish this performance; on the occasion previously recorded in 1874, again in 1875, and yet again a month previously to his successful attempt. He left Highgate Archway at 11.10 on the night of Monday, the 6th of June, taking the Great North Road now so well known to all northern riders, and reached Hitchin at 1.55 a.m. At 11.15 a somewhat suspicious constable had remarked to him that he was riding “rather late”, and on nearing Hitchin another gentleman in blue, also seemingly suspicious, observed that he was riding “rather early”; however, they did not arrest him, and he went on his way. Proceeding through the various places not now necessary to name, he passed the hundredth milestone (with a shout, the account says) at 9.35 a.m., or 10 h. 25 m. from the start. Near Newark, a dog rushed at the machine and upset the lot, doing some (not serious) damage to the rider, but not to the machine. Continuing, still very game, Mr. Thorpe rode into York at9.40 p.m., on Tuesday, the 7th June, having ridden the distance of 195 miles in 22½ hours. 


The race meeting at Alexandra Park, as previously arranged for, took place on Saturday, June 18th, and consisted of two events, viz. :- A Four-Mile Club Handicap, which was won by H. Stanley Thorpe, with 230 yards start from F. Nisbet, scratch; and a Five-Mile Open Handicap; the prizes were given by the Alexandra Palace Company. In this, H.S. Thorpe, with 440 yards start, rode second in the final heat. The account of this meeting in The Field is very meagre indeed. 


From a note in the committee minute book about this time, it would seem that the Club corns were being trodden on, for the Hon. Secretary was instructed to write to the Ramblers Bicycle Club, respecting their using the Pickwick Bicycle Club colours. 


The fixtures for July were:- 1st, Spartan Sports and Woodford, Castle (no record to be found of these Spartan Sports); 8th, Hatfield, Red Lion; 15th, Havering-attet-Bower; 22nd, High Barnet for Dunstable; 29th, White Hart, Ongar. 


In a minute dated July 1st, the question was brought forward as to the age of candidates for membership, when it was resolved “That no gentleman be admitted to the Club under the full age of 19 years.” 


At a special general meeting on July 12th, the following proposition was carried by 15 votes to 2:- “That the Club, subject to the approval of the Committee in each case, pay the law costs incurred by any active member in prosecuting any person who shall have assaulted him while riding his bicycle.” This tends to show the march of civilization, and that the day of immediate reprisals in kind had gone by. 


At this meeting, also, a rule was passed that signal whistles and bugles may be carried by each member (!) of the Club, but must be used only by the Captain and Sub-Captain, or under their directions (except in cases of emergency), and the following code was adopted:-  


                To fall in                     Sound the assembly 

                To start                      The advance 

                Single file                   Commence firing 

                Two abreast                The extend

                To ride easy                March at ease

                Dismount                    Halt 

                Tea call                      The dinner call 


The fixtures for August were:- 5th, Headquarters 4 p.m., for Southend; 12th, High Barnet, for Hitchin; 19th, meet Surrey Bicycle Club at headquarters, for Chigwell; 26th, Headquarters 4 p.m., for Hendon. 


Runs for September:- 2nd, Brentwood, White Hart; 9th, Epping, Thatched House; 16th, Waltham, via Chingford, Railway Hotel; 23rd, Abridge, White Hart; 30th, Woodford, Castle. 


On the 4th September, the committee decided to cease subscribing to The Field and Bell’s Life, and to subscribe to the Bicycle Journal instead, the back numbers to be purchased. 


At the general meeting on September 6th, arrangements were discussed for meeting in town to attend the West Kent Bicycle Club race meeting at the Crystal Palace. 


From a minute of this meeting, it appears that a Mr. Gee had taken legal proceedings against one Mr. Parsons, the driver and probably proprietor of the St. Albans coach, for assault, and had been successful in the same; and the Pickwick Bicycle Club passed a vote of congratulation to him on his public-spirited action, and offered to subscribe to any fund for the purpose of reimbursing him, should he have suffered any pecuniary loss. In The Field of September 9th, there appears an account of this affair, and it will serve to show the feelings of bitter animosity with which riders of cycles were regarded by drivers of horses. It would seem that Mr. Gee and a friend, Mr. Mitchell, were overtaking the coach, which when Mr. Parsons discovered, he commenced driving across and across the road to prevent Gee passing, and in addition, laid into him with his whip; but the guard of the coach was worse still, for this diabolical miscreant was armed with a murderous weapon, consisting of an iron ball attached to the end of a cord, intended no doubt for the destruction of cyclists in general, to be cast at passing machines and catch their wheels, and upset them and their riders, being utterly reckless as to probable fatal consequences of such an act. He tried his skill upon Mr. Gee, but without success. Mitchell, however, was more unfortunate; the ball went between the spokes, and he and his machine were hurled to the ground, and both dragged along for some distance. Mr. Gee succeeded in getting the coach stopped, and took names and addresses, and in due course the delinquents were haled before the county magistrate at Hertford, with the result that Mr. Parsons was fined £2 and costs, and the guard fined £5; and Mr. Parsons said he would give Mr. Mitchell £10 for damage done to himself and his machine. 


During this month there was what ought to have been a grand meeting at the Crystal Palace, promoted by the West Kent Bicycle Club, but which unfortunately turned out a miserable failure, owing to the insubordination of the riders attending it. I have before me a letter from Mr. Henry Coppin, the captain of the West Kent Bicycle Club, addressed to Mr. Pickwick, bearing date October 7th, 1876, in which he says – “I wish to thank you personally, and through you, every gentleman who attended that meeting under your command, for the very excellent manner in which you carried out the instructions I sent you, and I beg to assure you that henceforth the Pickwick Bicycle Club will be my beau ideal of a Bicycle Club …..My troubles commenced early, for not another Club but yours fell in and dressed properly, and, busy as I was, I could not but admire the military style and order in your ranks – the secret lies here: the Pickwick Bicycle Club knows both how to command and how to obey.”  


This is interesting as showing the different methods appertaining to Club organization in those times and the present. 


The fixtures for October were: - 7th, Surrey Bicycle Club Race Meeting at Kennington Oval; 14th, Chigwell, King’s Head; 21st, Barnet, Red Lion; 28th, Snaresbrook, The Eagle. 


The election of officers for the ensuing year took place on the 4th of October, with the following results:- 


        President, John Holms, Esq., M.P., unanimously elected: 

        Captain, Mr. K.M. Yeoman,                   ditto. 

        Sub-Captain, Mr. J.W. Beningfield,         ditto. 

        Treasurer, Mr. Shirley Fussell,               ditto. 

        Hon. Secretary, Mr. L.C.B. Yeoman,        ditto.


There were eight candidates for the three seats on committee, and of these the following were elected:- Messrs.J. Bryant, C.H. Larette, and John Nixon. 


On the 16th October, Count Smorltork was elected Chairman of Committee for the year. It was decided to subscribe to the Bicycling News, as well as the Bicycling Journal


On October 23rd, arrangements were made for holding the seventh Annual Dinner at Anderton’s Hotel, on Saturday, December 2nd, the following guests to be invited:- Mr. H.P. Whiting (London B.C.), Mr. J. Inwards, of the Bicycling News, Mr. Howard, of the Bicycling Journal, and the captains of the Surrey, London, and West Kent Bicycle Clubs, and the captain and hon. secretary of the Temple Bicycle Club. 


The dinner was duly held as arranged, with Sam Weller (Mr.W.E. Maverly) in the chair, and Messrs. Pickwick, Tracy Tupman, and Grummer in the vice-chairs. 


At the above meeting, the committee decided to change the headquarters to the Farleigh Hotel, Amhurst Road, Hackney, owing to the landlord of the Mitford Tavern not agreeing to allow the Club to use their usual winter clubroom. This decision was very promptly acted upon, as the committee adjourned there and then to the Farleigh Hotel, and engaged a room there suitable to their requirements. On 1st November, at the general meeting, they brought up a report upon their action in removing the headquarters which was unanimously adopted. 


Invitations for two having been received from the Temple Bicycle Club, to their dinner, Messrs. Pickwick and Grummer were selected to represent the Club. 


At the general meeting, 6th December, Sam Weller was unanimously elected Vice-President of the Club, and a special vote of thanks given him for his services, and the able manner in which he had fulfilled the duties of the Chair at the dinner on the 2nd inst. 


The weather at this time being unfit for cycling, a walk to the Castle, at Woodford, was arranged for Saturday, the 9th December. 


At a meeting on 19th December, it was decided to adopt the use of ivory club buttons, with the letters “P.B.C” on same in Old English – these buttons are supposed still to be used by Club riders. It was also resolved that a division of the Club, under the command of the Sub-Captain, Mr. J.W. Beningfield, be formed at the Osborne Tavern, Stroud Green Lane, N:, for the convenience of members residing in that locality; The division to meet the Club as appointed by the committee.

<< Previous    [1]  2  3  4    Next >>