New book charts history of town cycling club

The lengthy history of a town's cycling club has been captured in a new book: “A Bench, A Bike and A Pipe.”

Michael Meath with his new book
Michael Meath with his new book

Barnoldswick resident Michael Meath initially joined the town's Clarion Cycling Club at the age of 11. His decision followed an article in this newspaper, then the Barnoldswick and Earby Times, in 1958 in which the club was asking for new members.

Traffic was minimal, the area's lanes and byways were a haven of peace for cyclists and walkers alike and the local countryside was still a glorious respite for hundreds who worked in factories and mills throughout the week.

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At 15 he left school and began his apprenticeship as a painter and decorator. Turning his attention to fell running, he kept his prized Claud Butler racing and touring bicycle, climbing back into the saddle in his 40s when he became a founder member of Pendle Triathlon Club. After the re-founding of the town's cycling club in 2007, he rejoined and during the past 14 years has covered thousands of miles rediscovering his early cycling haunts.

However, it was the lone stone bench on the outskirts of Bracewell that led him to delve back into the club's history. The bench is a memorial to the man known as the “father” of Barnoldswick Clarion who was nicknamed “Pop.” Harry Hill was a cobbler, making and repairing clogs and shoes but his greater passion was cycling. He died following a collision with a milk tanker in the Ribble Valley in 1946.

During the past two years, the author has painstakingly researched the club's history back to the late 1800s when it was then named “Barnoldswick Cycling Club.” The book is packed with rare pictures, humour and pathos as he recalls many of the incidents involving members during the club's 140 year history.

There are local names galore – former postman Francis Forrest was pivotal in the decision to compile a club history; Mitchell, Taylforth, France, Wilkinson, Sneath, Town, Lord, Rogerson – all will bring back memories to readers.

How many people in the town today are aware that we have a former Tour de France Feminines rider in our midst? In the 1980s, Sue Gornall competed in four events, representing her country. Today she still rides thousands of miles a year mostly with the club – but her passion for cycling is continued by her daughters, one who is a British professional racing cyclist.

Towards the end of the book, there is a section packed with colour photographs of club events and outings in recent years.

The book is available directly from the author – email: [email protected] or via Singh's newsagents, Albert Road, Barnoldswick. It is priced at £12 or £14.50 including postage and packaging.