History of CTC Bedfordshire
At a Cyclists Touring Club [CTC] meeting held in Dublin on 10 July 1926 the following resolution was adopted:-
That permission be granted to form a District Association [DA] to be known as the Bedfordshire DA embracing the whole of the County of Bedfordshire.
The first rides from Bedford and Luton took place on the 1 August to Thurlby Hall and on 4 September an inaugural meeting, attended by sixteen members, elected the first officers; President Dr. Kilham Roberts, Secretary Woodbine Haylock, Treasurer Harry Impey. On 6 November the DA adopted the colours scarlet and gold which it still retains.
The first annual dinner of the DA was held on 5 December 1933 at the White Hart Hotel, Ampthill. The cost was 4/6d. In the 1930s the DA received an annual grant of £5 from Headquarters. An Easter tour of the Cotswolds was organised in 1931; recruitment rallies were held at Ampthill and Flitwick – the one at Ampthill attracting over 50 people – and a tandem rally at Tempsford in 1934.
The Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935 was celebrated by a Loyal Greeting carried by relay teams of CTC members over a route of 2,215 miles in 15 days during the course of which it was signed by every Lord Mayor in England and Wales, the Lord Provosts of four Scottish cities, and nearly 100 Mayors and Provosts of important towns en route. We have in our albums photographs of the Mayors of Bedford and Luton signing the message.
During the War the DA operated a Comforts Fund for members serving in HM Forces. Collections were taken on club runs and amounts of 5/- and later 10/-were sent to members once a year. In July 1942 one member in the Navy wrote to say that he was earning far more money than most serving members and asked that his share be sent to them. The fund was closed in 1947. 1947 saw the 21 Birthday Ride and Rally of the DA. Riders left Bedford and Luton to meet firstly outside The Bull, Barton for photographs and refreshments before moving on to Home Farm, Wrest Park, Silsoe where various races and events took place. The original plan was to hold the Rally at Ampthill Park but this proved not to be possible as Prisoners of War were still detained there. In June 1949 there was a night ride to London.
The 1950s and 1960s
The DA celebrated it’s Silver Jubilee in 1951 and held a rally at Silsoe and a dinner attended by 62 members. Cycling boomed in the 1950s and 60s and the DA arranged numerous events including an inter DA contest, map reading competitions, Youth Hostel weekends, slide lectures, dinners and Christmas parties in addition to a normal programme of rides. In 1966 to mark it’s 40 anniversary a Bedfordshire boundary ride was organised staying at Houghton Mill Youth hostel overnight. This ride remained a feature of the DA programme for many years.
1970 to 2000.
In the years until the end of the twentieth century the DA continued with a calendar of regular rides, and organised and participated in many other events. Some of these are listed below:-
DA 50th Anniversary
Queens Silver Jubilee at Silsoe
The DA was invited to send couples on tandems to Ivinghoe where the film “Chimp Champ” was being shot. This was a tandem race where the chimps win and for which the DA received £150.
CTC Centenary Year. As part of the celebrations an exhibition of veteran cycles, arranged with the help of the DA at Luton Museum, attracted 14,000 visitors. In the same year the DA President, Veronica Brown had a series of bicycle rides around Bedford published initially in the Bedfordshire Times and later in a Sports Council booklet. Floral “Winged Wheels” were also displayed at both Luton and Bedford.
During the 1980s the DA helped train a number of young people for the bronze, silver and gold levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. The President, Veronica Brown was invited to St. James’ Palace for the presentation of gold to Jeanette Ling.
The consumer magazine “Which?” asked the DA to help in testing a number of cycles and made a contribution to DA funds.
An invitation ride to Woburn Park attracted over 100 cyclists from Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
1980 – 81
Sealink sponsored an Open Map Reading Competition.
1980 – 82
Sports days organised at Lilley Village Hall.
The Year of the Disabled – six members completed a sponsored boundary ride which raised £400 in aid of Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Lady Zia Werner School for Disabled Children.
The DA hosted a Home Counties Rally which attracted about 180 cyclists some from as far away as Norwich, Sheffield and Hampshire.
DA 60th Anniversary.
A Certificate of Merit was awarded to Max Scott former DA President and Secretary.
After an appeal in the Newsletter, when £35 was raised, members met at Gulliver’s Spinney Souldrop to plant a total of 38 ash and oak trees. These were all labelled and numbered.
The DA had a stand at the Cycle Fair in Bedford’s Civic Theatre which proved to be a success.
DA 70th Anniversary. A lunch was held at the Chequers, Millbrook at which Veronica Brown was presented with a Certificate of Merit. The occasion was attended by 90 year old Bill Wray, founder member and former Treasurer.
Dave Lukes became a local Rides Representative, a post Veronica Brown had held since 1975.
DA members working together helped to strengthen the local rides network and active campaigning groups were established in Leighton Linslade, Mid-Bedfordshire, Bedford and Luton/Dunstable.
A Millennium Tree – sorbus vilmornii – was planted in the garden of 2 Trinity Close, Felmersham, the home of DA members Philip and David Shaw.
2000 and after
In the early years of the second millennium many younger riders were attracted to other riding groups which offered both competition and longer and more challenging rides. In addition cycling had to compete with an increasing number of leisure activities and road traffic increased. Together with the advancing age of some of the regular riders the numbers cycling inevitably declined. Nevertheless, a regular programme of Saturday, Sunday and occasional mid – week rides was maintained and although numbers were fewer they remained constant.
The CTC at national level decided to abolish DAs which were replaced with a formal structure of Member Groups – locally the Bedfordshire Group. The Group carries on in a similar manner to that previously. A small committee has continued to liase with the local authority, man exhibition stands and help to promote cycling generally. In 2012 a Quiz Night was organised which resulted in a donation of £250 to the local branch of the N.S.P.C.C. A constructive relationship has been developed with the local North Bedfordshire cycling campaign group.
31 July 2016
We celebrated our Member Group’s 90th anniversary by cycling to St Neots for a picnic, despite the rather overcast sky. The event was noted in CycleClips the e-newsletter for Cycling UK, where we were ‘Group of the Month’ 10 riders took part in the ride and others arrived by car. Luckily the rain held off.
Magazines, Newsletters, Website
The DA publication the “Bedfordshire Clanger” was first produced in 1947 – for how long is not known – was resurrected and renamed “The Bed Post” in 1966, but was discontinued in 1984 when costs became prohibitive. It was then produced in house as a Newsletter and sent to all members either by post or email until 2015 when it was published solely on the website.
CTC Bedfordshire developed it’s own fairly basic website until in 2010 a decision was made to update it. A grant was obtained from CTC Head Office and a local company appointed to advise on content, design and training. The site is kept under review and maintained by members,
Committee and Club Rooms
Committee meetings in the early years were held in public houses and cafes during club runs. A room in the “Sow and Pigs” Toddington was used between 1937 and 1939 and in the 1970s and 1980s Methodist Church Halls in High Town Rd. and Marsh Rd. Luton served for meetings slide shows and other events until the equipment was stolen. The DA venue then moved to St. Lukes Church Hall, Leagrave for approximately two years. Social gatherings and Meetings have been held at Committee members homes for a number of years now.
Over the years various trophies have been awarded for good ride attendance, service to the club or notable achievements. Between 1948 and 1972 there were six such trophies but awards have now been discontinued.
Numerous members have held the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer since 1926 but one office holder in particular stands out. Veronica Brown was President for 35 years from 1978 to 2013 when she retired due to poor health. In that time Veronica gave outstanding service to CTC members in Bedfordshire. She was involved in every aspect of the DA and Group activities including recruitment, campaigning, educational and social events, rides organisation, newsletter production and was herself a regular and enthusiastic rider. She received a Certificate of Merit in 1996. Veronica was re – elected to the Committee in 2011.
This short history is a summary of information retained in the Groups Archives.