Sunday, January 23, 2022

Harrow Clarion Cycling Club 1954


The following is an extract from an account of a ride by Harrow Clarion Cycle Club which appeared in a 1954 edition of the Daily Worker, it may well rekindle for some memories of what many, rightly consider, to have been a golden age for cycling.  

National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 ~ an association of Clarion Cycling Clubs


‘Oil up!’, cried vice- captain Bert from the rear. ‘Easy!’ cried Captain Herbert from the front. And 20 cyclists two abreast in neat column safely negotiated a turn across the main road into a quite lane. Gabriel and I, uncertain performers, among the experts of the Harrow Section of the Clarion Cycling Club, were learning not for the first time since we had set out that there is a great deal more to an outing with a cycling club than just getting on a push bike and pedalling away. “Push-bike” in any case is hardly the word for the gleaming machines, many of them custom built, made to measure like a good suit and costing £30 or more.

 Our first lessons in club cycling were the hardest. Keeping station, a yard or so behind the cycle in front of you and a foot or two from the cyclist beside you is tricky on a lightweight machine if you are not used to it. But it’s worth learning not only for safety but because the cyclist in front keeps the wind off you and makes it easier to pedal

There are the club rules and the jargon to learn too. The rules are simple; don’t cycle more than two abreast and don’t go ahead of the Captain without permission. The jargon you pick up more slowly “Easy” means slow down. “Oil up” is the cyclist’s contemptuous reference to the approach of a car from the rear. ‘Eyeballs out’ as you learn from experience is an all too accurate description of how it feels to toil up a one in eight gradient. ‘The bonk’, the most feared word in cycling, is the awful depression that grips you when nothing seems to go right. The wind is against you, its raining, you’re tired and you wonder how you ever came to think of cycling as a sport. This sad malady is treated with sympathy and cheerfulness until the victim recovers, as he usually does, when plied with hot tea and cakes at the next café.


By the time we bowled through the sunlit glades to the lunch stop we had discovered that our fellow cyclists were not just eccentric with a fancy for dressing in shorts and queer pullovers, but a group of very companionable individuals. Their ages ranged from 14 to a brisk and active 74-year-old. Age seemed to make little difference as long as you can cycle round the countryside in shorts, you’re young whatever your birth certificate says.


Most of our companions had taken up club cycling because it is cheap, helps you to make friends and combines the healthy exertion of a sport with the intelligent interest of a hobby. Cyclists we learned don’t just bowl about the country for the sake of boasting about their mileage later. Most of them find their greatest pleasure in enjoying the quiet countryside and getting to know the historic towns and villages of the land in which they live.


After lunch and a well-earned pint, we set off through the lanes and side roads to Chalfront St Giles. The village seemed to have been taken over by an army of cyclists who sported on its picturesque green and surged up and down its streets. In a café here, we witness the miracle of the disappearing bread. Plates piled high with bread and butter in thick doorstops were placed before us and disappeared almost before the plate had touch the tablecloth. Cycling gives you an outsize appetite as well as bulging calf muscles.  

By the time we were on our way home to conclude an easy 40 mile run we’d almost forgotten that we’d ever been diffident beginners. We’d made a whole group of new friends and though we’d only touched the fringe of cycling activity, it was with a glow of satisfaction that we readily agreed riding with a Cycle Club was good thing most definitely to be repeated, on a fine day at any rate.


Interestingly whilst almost all early Cycling Clubs used to follow the ‘no over-taking the Captain’ rule, some of the very early Clarion Cycle Clubs also had a short-lived ‘one off, all off’ rule when it came to climbing hills This rule was clearly unpopular with the fast lads and lassies whose aim was to ‘bag’ as many hills as possible, in as quick a time as possible.

The thinking behind the rule was rooted in the Clarion’s commitment to fellowship, the novice or the slow rider knowing that his or her comrades would not want to dismount on the hill was likely to make that bit more of an effort than normal to stay onboard their machine in an attempt to conquer the gradient. The more experienced, fitter riders not wanting to hear an order to dismount from the Vice-Captain, would drop back to cajole and encourage their less able comrade to the top of the hill.

It was rumoured that whenever the gradient steepened a disproportionate number of ‘crack riders’ frequently suffered from bouts of deafness!


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Socialist Sunday School - The welcoming and naming ceremony of a child

Socialist Sunday School
The welcoming and naming ceremony of a child

The Parents and immediate friends of the child should sit in the seats nearest the conductor of the service.
Instrumental music might be played at the beginning and end, but the selections should be somewhat short, and of a quieter order of music, as befitting the presence of the central figure of the ceremony, namely a small child.
(No solos should be sung)
1. Song sung by all the assembly
3. Conductor speaks:-
Neighbours, friends, and fellow citizens, we assembled here today in order to give loving and respectful greeting to the most beautiful symbol of humanity's progress and future – A little child.
The life of our race is three fold -- past, present and future. The past is, in truth, a living past.
The record revealed in history is the record of forefathers and foremothers who laboured and suffered, who struggled and hoped, and who have not vanished for ever. Their work remains in our civilisation. The very language we speak was given to us by our ancestors. To them we and our flesh and blood. We are the very spirit and heart of their existence and time, renewed in a generation which we call the present
In like manner we are the begetters and creators of the age yet to come. Is not that a reason – the best of all reasons – Why we should each contribute our service, each cooperate, and each try to improve both himself and the world?
We are architects of fate,
Working in these walls of time;
Some with massive deed and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low,
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise
Time is with materials filled;
Our todays and yesterday’s
Are the blocks with which we build
Build today, then, strong and sure,
With a firm hand and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall tomorrow find its place.
This child, brought here by its parents and kinsfolk and friends, is a representative of the morrow, of humanity’s capacity to pass from the old to the new, from the good to the better. We who are gathered about this child in affection, therefore do not merely regard it as a happy addition to a family, but above and beyond that, we salute it as an emblem of the hope, the faith, and forward looking courage of humanity at large.
We meet in this public manner in order to testify our conviction that every child born to all our race, of whatever nation or colour, should be honored as a new member of humanity. It has been nobody said is that “the whole succession of men during the ages should be considered as one man, ever living and ever learning”.
This child we looked upon as a cherished part of that one man of all the ages.
As spokesman of the community, I asked by what name you wish this child to be known.
(a parent or kinsman recite of the name or names, and hands the child to the conductor who says,
(while all the company stand)
On behalf of all this company present, and of society generally, I welcome this child (repeat full name) into the membership of the human family, and and express a heartfelt desire that its life may be blessed with health and joy, and they may render service, in a humble sphere or in the public sphere, to the social commonwealth, it’s fellowship, it’s order, and its progress.
(The child is handed back)
To you, parents and kinsfolk, I put the question before all this assembly:
Do you promise that, so far as in you lies, you will train this child, and cause them to be trained, for a career of self-respect and self-reverence and service to mankind?
(Parents etc : We promise)
3. Song:
"Hail to thee, hail to thee, child of humanity”, or any other suitable selection
(the company resumed their seats)
The joyous and homely ceremony we have just collectively performed should act as a reminder to us all of our relation and our duty to all the children born into human society, and especially in our immediate environment.
The Romans had a saying that “the greatest reverence is due to a child” it is our part not only to show love and good natured favour to children, but unfailing respect. With due allowance for the young soul's limitations and experience, we should , in effect, show as a genuine respect to a child as to an adult. Disrespect evinced towards these little ones is, at bottom, disrespect to the supreme humanity of which we are all the offspring.
Let us therefore honour the young and immature life by providing it with the best material comforts and aids, and the most efficient and humane education for which the city and the nation possesses the means. No social and civic energy and wit are so well laid out as the energy and wit applied to the training of the feeling, reason and character of our young citizens. Here and now, therefore, we combine the gladness of a welcome to discharge and young neighbour, with an acknowledged public and solemn obligation towards all there sisters and brothers in the community at large.
(the proceedings may close with instrumental music) F J Gould
The Ceremonial or ritual varied with each Sunday school
The platform was tastefully adorned with narcissus and tulips


Sunday, January 02, 2022

Southall Railway Clerks Association Established 1918

Southall branch of the Railway Clerks Association now TSSA held its first meeting 12th February 1918

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Pte. "Leonard" W Spencer - Uxbridge Independent Labour Party WW1


Pte. Leonard Spencer of 13th Londons has one last spin on his Douglas motorcycle before heading off to the Western Front.


Private: "Leonard" W Spencer born Guildford 29 July 1889,

Joined London Cycling Regiment (>13th Kensington Batt) WW1

Allegedly, the first person to have ever successfully motorcycled up Snowdon, founder of Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP) 

Killed in Action 1 September 1915


L "Leonard" W. Spencer was born in Guildford 29th July 1889, educated at Collegiate School at Reading, He was the son of Mr. T. B. Spencer, of 66, Kidmore Road, Caversham, Reading.

Aged just 17, he left home to open a business in Uxbridge, living later at Belmont Road, Uxbridge. Leonard Spencer went on to helped establish and became the first secretary of the Uxbridge Chamber of Commerce, while also participating in the establishment of a local parliament (debating society).

As an early motor cyclist enthusiast he was reported to be the first person to have ever successfully motorcycle up Snowdon, he also toured Norway and Iceland as a young man.

Spencer had been a keen supporter of Mr Edmund Dene Morel (later Labour MP for Dundee and married to Mary Richardson) agitation over the brutal rule of King Leopold in the Belgium Congo (Now the Democratic republic of Congo).

Spencer became a Christian Socialist believing "that there was no incompatibility but rather the fullest harmony between Christianity and socialism".

He went on to become the founding Secretary of the Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP) and in 1910 he had been elected to Uxbridge Council as a Labour candidate along with Edwin Westcott. While on the council he was involved in the plan to build some of the first Uxbridge Council houses and it was stated that these "were definitely a monument to the energies and the eloquence of Mr Spencer".

When World War 1 broke he considered it his Christian duty to serve and he was one of the first to enlist as a Cyclist Orderly in the (London Cycling Regiment) later 13th Kensington Battalion in order to defend the sovereignty of "little countries overseas".

He wrote home stating "he would not come home for the world until victory was won" and encouraging others to follow him and enlist.

At Ypres, during the Battle of Neuve Chapel during March and April 1915, A battle which represented the first large scale organised attack undertaken by the British army during the war. Spencer's Battalion took major losses, he underwent a terrible ordeal, suffering from hunger, thirst and sleepless nights. He only took off his clothes to wash and slept every night with his motorcycle by his side (probably providing a vital courier service). He served without respite for seven months.

The Regimental History of the Kensington's Regiment describes their experiences during Neuve Chapelle. C Company was involved on the first day, and advanced at 9 a.m. to the village cemetery, where they had to take cover amidst churned-up graves. On the 12th of March, their C.O. (Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis) noted that by 12.25 p.m. the German bombardment of their positions (in the old front line) was "Perfect Hell".

It seems that this "perfect hell" had finally undermined Leonard Spencer's fundamental Christian beliefs, it was stated later that he had rediscovered his beliefs before his untimely death, shot through the head by a German snipper on the 1st September 1915.

Private (and Comrade) L.W. Spencer is buried at Longuenesse St Omer, France.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Hanwell - Show Your Union card Day 1923


TGWU Record

Hanwell TGWU Tram workers

Ealing - West London

Show Your Union Card Day

Card Check

Monday, October 25, 2021

Monday, October 04, 2021

The Battle of Ridley Road 1947

The Battle of Ridley Road
Challenge September 13th 1947- By Mick Noble - Recently de-mobbed from the forces


Thousands of East London house-wives fill this famous market, buying wares and collecting the Sunday dinner. The cries of the ' coster-mongers mingle with the gossip of the women and the yells of the children. Ridley Road—Sunday. The shops are closed. Gone are the stalls and barrows. But people are still there, people who hate fascism. People who once believed that Fascism had died with Hitler. Sunay, August 31, 1947, was a historical day for London's Youth.

The London Young Communist League (YCL) with the Hackney Branch in the lead, held the ground at Ridley Road for nine hours against fascist provocation. Forced to start the meeting at 4 p.m. (it was scheduled to start at 7 p.m.) the Y.C.L. put speaker after speaker on the platform. Youth from all walks of life denounced with great human feeling the increase in fascist activities in London.

Eighteen year old Betty Moss, of the Hackney Y.C.L., one of the earlier speakers, said: “The Housewives' League and the Tory Press may criticise the miners, but you will not find any of the rich class down the pits. Give London's Youth a chance and they will help to save Britain." Pete Richards, of St. Pancras Y.C.L., who sailed to France on D-Day, and was later wounded, made an impassioned appeal to a packed audience of 4,000: " Youth has a future if Fascism and Capitalism are destroyed in Britain," said Pete as thousands cheered


At that moment the fascists, masquerading under the name of the" British League of Ex-Servicemen," were holding a meeting not far away from the youths' platform. A flood of abuse against the Jewish people was let loose. The crowd's hostility increased. Suddenly from all directions police swooped down upon the fascist meeting and it was promptly closed down. Police, on foot and in motor vehicles, then rushed to the Y.C.L. meeting. John Goss, Secretary of the London Y.C.L., mounted the platform to the cheers of the crowd. As he spoke, hundreds of little Hitlers, including German P.O.W., began to march upon the Y.C.L. meeting.

As they drew near, they began chanting: "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? — M-O-S-L-E-Y! " and sang the " Horst Wessel," the song composed in a German brothel, as they converged on the meeting. But they were thrown back by the solidness of the crowd, who were keenly interested in the constructive policy which Johnny Goss was putting forward for solving Britain's economic crisis. " The fascists say you don't find Jews in the coal mines," said Johnny, " and yet the only London lads working down the same pit as myself during the 'war were Jews. But you won't find fascists down the mines. No honest-to-goodness miner would work beside them."

The chairman, appealing for a collection, said: "The Tories and fascists ridicule our appeals for money, but we are proud to receive the pennies and shillings from the working class, for this indicates that we voice the needs of the people. Give your answer to the fascists! " Twenty-eight pounds four shillings was collected.

The fascists on the, opposite side of the road, angered by their failure to break up the meeting, made a final assault. They" rushed the meeting, throwing bottles and fireworks, but were once again decisively routed. The people stood steady and calm. The police were compelled to arrest a few fascists. In past weeks it has only been anti-fascists and ex-Servicemen who have been manhandled and arrested by the police. The police have indicated in the past their sympathy for the fascists.

This changed attitude may be an expression of public agitation and discontent with  

the actions of the police. The meeting came to an end as the crowd, thousands strong, sang the "Internationale" with great gusto. The fascists, who had earlier been singing the Nazi " Horst Wessel" insolently started singing the National Anthem. Before the crowds dispersed, 4,000 anti-fascists raised their voices in three tumultuous cheers, for the unity of the Labour movement, for a future for British Youth and the destruction of Fascism in Britain.

London's youth won a great victory on Sunday, August 31, But the last " Battle of Ridley Road" has yet to be won.