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Bolton Clarion





Lymm Transport Day 100years Centenary


The Bolton Clarion Cycling Club are building Lymm into a 150K ride on Transport Day , aiming to come through the village as part of the parade. The club has been coming to the village for nearly 100 years. These clubs were massively popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Here's a photo of the Bolton Branch


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Bolton Clarion Members:


2015 Club Competitions

10 Mile TT           Sat 25th April 2015   NLTTA event on L101 near Garstang
50 Mile TT           Sat 25th July 2015      Cheshire Roads Club on J4/16




Upcoming Club Meetings


16th March 2015

6th April 2015 (Committee)

20th April 2015

18th May 2015


All Welcome

Any ideas for the meetings let Peter, Tony or Mike know so we can plan





Clarion Christmas Festivities
7th December 2014



Saturday night the forecast for Sunday morning was a dire looking one, wet and cold with a hint of snow in parts, surely our downhill event will not be cancelled
Sunday morning began as forecast, rain belting down early as I was getting ready to meet John Mann and Charlie Whittle ay Lostock station, but the most striking thing was the wind, gosh it was really blowing hard.
The rain had abated as I set off to meet the fellow members but still lightly falling and not a problem, yet.
Surprise surprise, John was already there and as I rolled up right behind me was Charlie and Ray Fairclough, Charlie I was expecting but not Ray.
As usual riding into the very strong headwind I found myself on the front as we rode up Chorley New road. Behind I could hear talking as well as my heavy breathing, at least my sacrifice on the front was of some assistance to our venerable eighty four year old member John.
We arrived at the barn just behind the familiar figure of Steve Menhams who had suddenly appeared from an off road track. The gathering was underway and as this year there was no timed kettle boiling to keep us amused hot coffee in the barn was an eager option.
As we sat enjoying the coffee it seemed altogether much better as fingers pointed outside to the rain that had become a deluge, thank goodness we were comfortably under cover. One or two late comers were not as fortunate and were almost drowned.
As if by magic, the rain ceased as we left the barn and out came the sun on the colourful cavalcade of cyclists making the trip along the ‘Street’ to the downhill venue, Nick Hilton lane, starting from the Yew Tree pub. 
After the obligatory group photo by Pete Singleton using with difficulty the ‘gorilla’ mini tripod, a hands and knees job seeing the viewfinder, the fun began.
One by one the members rolled away from the start line, some on classy bikes worthy of a road race, some bog standard and just a couple of mountain bkes, Fleur sporting a nice pink one worthy of the rough stuff fellowship gang.
John Mann was a non starter and stayed on the pub car park, after reassurance from me that we would be coming back up the hill, he still looked uncertain we would.
I hopped (?) on my bike as last man off, just pushed a little on the pedals to start rolling. Soon I was flying, so fast tears filled my eyes, even with a hub dynamo on the front wheel I was at warp factor one. A car approaching the finish area slowed me down a bit as I stopped just ahead of someone’s chalk line, at least I wasn’t last.
Paul came down the hill counting his strides, ‘twenty one, twenty two’ yards, I was second twenty two yards behind the winner, I felt cheated, especially when it was declared Steve Horner had a pair of £600 pound wheels fitted, crickey I hope Paul has a prize befitting such will to win.
Back up the hill to Back Lane and a relieved John Mann, who was not at all sure we would be coming back this way. The sun was very bright as we made our way down the lane and highlighted the Christmas feel by casting it’s glow on the wet green leaves and deep red berries of the holly trees.
Cresting the short steep hill at Cowling we had a regrouping before continuing down Stump lane where we were greeted by a ‘No through road’ sign, as on the Arnside ride it was ignored and on we went, at the bottom and to the left was McDonalds, time for more coffee.
With our entrance it meant a very large queue but as I had abandoned my bike I was almost at the front but the lady behind the counter declared a ten minute wait for coffee. A quick thinking Paul changed his order to hot chocolate and was served almost at once, I was quick to follow suit and I have to say the drink was delicious, despite someone saying it was fattening, on a day when a big turkey dinner was next up it hardly mattered.
We filled one end of McDonalds managing to more or less all sit together, noisy cheerful chatter filled the air, the spirit of Christmas was well and truly upon us.
Time to move on and the good nature continued as a customer was gesticulating and pointing his finger at one of the bikes and a piece of paper attached to the saddle. On the paper was written, £75.00. or near offer, a good laugh as it was on an expensive looking bike, a better joke than those in the Christmas crackers.
Again we had managed to miss a cloudburst while in the cafe and the leisurely ride the two or so miles to the Cherry tree was enjoyable, the strong headwind that had troubled us going to the barn was now behind us. The strength of the tail wind was highlighted by the sight of flying Fleur on the downhill and flat sections of road, she made that mountain bike move.
Bikes locked and it was into the restaurant, most of us eager for a pint of good beer with me looking forward to a pint of the very nice ‘Dirty Blonde’ special but I was to be disappointed as the barrel was not yet connected, ah well, lager would do for now.. At the bar were three welcome guests, Pete Wilson, Craig Smith and his brother Barry, more than welcome as they were busy filling in membership forms and paying long overdue subs, about three years overdue. Welcome back Pete, Craig and Barry.
Once again we filled one end of the eatery pulling crackers and putting on the party hats and looking for the novelties that usually fly as the cracker comes apart. This tradition is then continued with a reading of the jokey slips of paper, smiles elicited by the sheer weakness of the jokes, jokes we all told in junior school, still it’s all part of the overall fun.
The Christmas lunch was superb, I did not hear one word of criticism, chief guests Geoff and Yvonne Smith particularly enjoyed their Vegetarian meal.
Party spirit continued with our festive grand raffle, again generously supported by Geoff and Yvonne and of course by the members, the outcome was a sum of some ninety odd pounds, again to be donated to our adopted charity, Bolton Hospice. The ‘Dirty Blonde’ beer came on tap so I relaxed with an after dinner pint in the equally relaxed atmosphere.
Members began to drift off as dusk and more rain approached and a good number of us continued the party with a ride back to Rivington Barn for coffee, riding up the hills to get there on a full stomach really was a chore for me.
After coffee, more tall stories, looks cast by the hard worked staff told us it was time to leave and so we did.


The last bit of tradition now took place for the hardy (foolhardy?) ones among us, the trek over Chorley old road to the Doffcocker pub and again, as last year the ride was in rain but at least we had a strong wind behind giving us a welcome shove up the long, long hill. At the top there is the bonus of a nice long much appreciated downhill right to the doors of the pub.
Another enjoyable couple of hours were spent, the exploits of the day and past Christmas events being discussed and laughed over. We were joined as usual by singing barber Nev Street, a former member from years ago and the front end of a record breaking tandem duo, the back end being our present member Charlie Whittle. At the time we, Charlie, Nev and myself were members of Leigh Premier road club, again historic tales were relived.
We broke up the party eventually and found as we ventured out that the rain was still persisting down but a few pints consumed meant it was hardly a problem, especially for me, as once up on the ring road it was all downhill home, right to the front door.
I wound up the long day enjoying the latest episode of the thriller serial Homeland along with two rounds of toast and a pot of tea after that I went to bed, and fell asleep as I mused on another successful Bolton clarion Christmas do.        









Bolton Clarion Competitive Stuff

After somehow finding myself as Racing Secretary following this year’s AGM I decided to try and encourage and convince more of the club members to pin a number on their back and have a go at taking part in some of the competitive stuff. The plan was to keep the current club competitions, the 10 & 25 mile time trials and hill climb, and reintroduce the 50 mile TT for good measure along with a season long Vets time trial competition using the Thursday night Southport club 10 at Tarleton. Along with the club competitions the hope was also to encourage everyone to have a go at any other form of racing, be it road racing, crit racing, cyclocross, MTB or anything else that might take their fancy.
So how’s the year gone so far?


The season got off to a promising start in February at the Midwinter Madness “Hurt at the Haigh” event at Haigh Hall. The combined MTB / Cyclocross 2hr endurance race saw a fine turnout from club with Dave Bisset, Dave Physick, Gary Thompson, Nick Hockenhull and myself braving the winter conditions to take on a tough mixed terrain course around the grounds of the hall. Mud, trees, tree roots, ‘bomb holes’, single track, drop offs, stream crossings, fast descents and steep climbs were no match for the men of the Clarion and turned out to be the perfect way to spend a morning particularly when rounded off with hot hog roast butties!
April saw six Clarion riders turning out for the Club 10TT at the NLTTA open event at Garstang:

  1. Dave Owen

  2. Nick Hockenhull

  3. Ian Humphreys

  4. Mark Ainsworth

  5. William Cocker

  6. Tony Bowles


Despite tough windy conditions the guys put in some great performances with the ‘Evergreen’ Tony Bowles and Nick Hockenhull both taking significant chunks off their standard times, Ian Humphreys putting in a fine debut and Mark Ainsworth and William Cocker showing fine form.

April also saw the start of the Tameside Circuit Race series on the purpose built race circuit at Ashton Under Lyne. Following the last winter’s first foray in cyclocross racing and Fred Smith’s inspirational presentation back in January I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a full British Cycling racing and give the road racing & criterium racing lark a go. So far, it’s three races down, one crash, a dose of road rash and a scary evening hurling myself around the track in the rain; but I’m finding my feet in the bunch and it turns out I can sprint a bit and I’m actually a pretty strong rider. The regular 4th Cat races have also been a good chance to get to know a few riders the Bury and Saddleworth Clarion sections and Manchester Wheelers which comes in handy when you need a friend in the bunch to share the work, although it would be better if there was another BCCC jersey out there!

So it’s now full steam ahead to try and accumulate some ranking points.

The other new competition we’ve got running is the season long Vets 10TT Competition. Starting back in April and running through to the September this competition is open to all the club riders over 40, I can’t take part until next year, and is based around the Southport CC club 10 held each Thursday at Tarleton. As a handicap competition, the winner will be the rider who can beat their ‘Standard Time’ by the largest margin based upon the aggregate of their two best rides at Tarleton, with bonus time being awarded for taking part in the club events and the total number of rides completed………….simples!!!!!!!!
To date Tony Bowles is the man to beat, with William Cocker not far behind and Nick Hockenhull posting the fastest time but still needing another ride to qualify.
Come give it a go, it’s a friendly event and all you’ve got to do is your best, what could be easier?

Well that’s the story so far for my first season as Race Secretary, it would be great to see some more riders from the club giving something competitive a try, particularly the TT’s as they’re a really easy thing to have a go at and very friendly events. Judging by recent ride reports we have some untapped talent that could really challenge for some of the club silverware, so don’t be shy!








A Rides on Sundays - Jan to Mar 15 - Runs List  here  Autumn 2012 runs list
B Rides on Wed & Sundays - Jan to Mar 15 - Runs List  here Autumn 2012 runs list


Saturday Rides continue on 2nd Sat of month

see Facebook page for updates and details








New Winter 2014 Newsletter - here





Autumn 2014 Newsletter - here

Summer 2014 Newsletter - here

Spring 2014 Newsletter - here

Winter 2013 Newsletter - here

Autumn 2013 Newsletter - here

Summer 2013 Newsletter - here

Spring 2013 Newsletter - here








Bolton Clarion at the Tour de France 2014

TDF Yorkshire









Tony's Highlight of the Year


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Link to the Lymm Tranport Day Photo's






BCCC Team Spirit flying the Flanders 2014 Sportive

Another yearly adventure in Belgium by the Clarion Team


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Spain 2014 – Mike Singleton

One tough trip!

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Charlie Westlake and Bolton Clarion – Anthony Bowles.

It was in the early nineties and the Medium paced ride met on the town hall square for a ride to Knott End. While exchanging chit chat before setting off a group of unfamiliar guys turned up, but the clarion leader recognised Charlie Westlake among them, it was the Bury CTC section. ‘ The Long Distance ride have just left Charlie’ said the leader, a smile was the response, a man of few words was Charlie. They dismounted and made it clear they were intent on joining us to Knott End. ‘we’re only a slow group Charlie, not up to your pace’, again a slow smile, ‘not to worry, we’ll just tag along at the back’.
And so they did, all the way to KnottEnd, and after the Ferry ride over to Fleetwood.
There was a strange event as we neared Elswick, one of the young lads from Bury, Chris Peatfield, (Chris in later years married Bolton member Katy Prescott) seemed to have got the bonk, he slipped off down to Bonds cafe for and ice cream as we waited patiently at the end of the road.
It was summer and a nice day so it was no big deal really, so it seemed but then the minutes dragged on and no sign of Chris, other Bury lads went to look for him, they too seemed to be long gone. Perhaps a mechanical or puncture? I set off to investigate but just as I did the missing riders appeared, appeared to be well refreshed also, it turned out the ice cream had followed a meal.
Off again and the young man began to get a bit sprightly, he certainly had recovered well, so much so he was hard to contain.
Once through Preston and on the well trodden A6, the pace began to lift and slowly the group began to break apart as Charlie and his henchmen ended the truce, obviously now out of the country lanes and back on main roads we were no longer of use.
A few of us though refused to surrender and took up the challenge as Charlie marshalled his men at the front. Charlie eventually had to take to the front himself as we doggedly refused to surrender, Bamber Bridge, Whittle le Woods, Chorley, Adlington and Horwich, where a frantic sprint for the boundary took place.
The sprint at Horwich seemed to bring about a truce and the pace returned to a sociable one back down to Bolton. As ever Charlie didn’t speak while riding, just pushed the pedals like a metronome, mile after mile after mile, hence his reputation for tough hard rides, rides like that yearly one he did to the centre of Humber Bridge and back in the day, they did have an early start though. Charlie never did turn up at another Bolton clarion ride, he may have forgotten us but certainly did not forget the return from Knott End.




A Beacon would burn on Halliwell Dean by Albert Winstanley

"ALLO…ALLO…ALLO…AND WHAT’S ALL THIS ‘ERE THEN?" Though these may not have been the actual words, there was no mistaking the "fierce greeting" in the policeman’s voice, as he stopped me with the palm of his hand a few inches from my face, at the Knowsley Street and St. George’s Road junction, where he was on point duty.

I stopped with both legs straddled over the crossbar of my ancient ‘dreadnought’ bike, with its 28 x 1¾ wheels, ‘sit up and beg’ handlebars and roller brakes. I was only 14, on my first ever bike, and trembling with fright. I awaited his next question, "and now young man, where’s your light?"

I looked down to my oil lamp below the handlebars, and now thoroughly scared, saw it was out.

"Please Sir," I replied, "It must have blown out in the wind." There was disbelief in his voice as he said "Well, let’s see then." He opened the lamp glass, poked a finger inside and withdrew it immediately with an "Ouch" as the still hot lamp burnt him. I had to stifle a smile as he said. "I believe you this time, but light it straight away, and never let me catch you again without a light".

He watched as I produced a match to light the wick, which immediately burned merrily, and with relief I pedalled away, the warning still ringing in my ears.Such little episodes were common in my first cycling days (1930 onwards) and woe betide the cyclist caught without a light during darkness. It would result in a summons and an appearance at court, and a fine of usually 5/- plus the disgrace of your offence being mentioned in the Bolton Evening News.

How times have changed, with a blind eye turned to scores of cyclists who ride without lights and riding on the pavement (also then an offence carrying a summons and a fine).

There came 1932 and the purchase of my first ever new bicycle, and the beginning of a love affair with cycling, which is still as strong as ever in these advancing veteran years of mine. At that time too, I bought the weekly magazine "CYCLING" (price 2d), and most weeks there was a delightful sketch by the ‘King’ of cycling artists. His name was Patterson, and his sketches portrayed to perfection, the joys and delights of the countryside of England. Keen touring cyclists eagerly looked forward to the magic of his pen, luring them to follow his wheels to the scenes of beauty he depicted.

Even today…his sketches are sought after items, and I treasure the two originals that I have and which were presented to me many years ago.

Now there was a week, shortly after acquiring my new bike, that a sketch appeared showing a lonely moorland road in gathering darkness. Two cyclists are seen lighting their lamps their readiness for their night ride, and its caption was "LIGHTING UP TIME". How I drooled over that sketch, looking at it time and time again. It did something to me, and in mind’s eye I could picture myself taking part in the little scene. The curving moorland Patterson had depicted was similar to the moorland on the road over Hordern Stoops leading from Belmont to Rivington; and I knew I would not be content until I too, like the cyclists depicted, would stop and light my lamp just as they had.

In those early years of the 1930′s, times were bad. We had little money, and cycle oil lamps were the cheapest means of lighting. Though the first battery lamps were around, the favourite cycle lamps were acetylene or carbide. I vowed I had to have one, and weeks and weeks of saving from my pocket money eventually rewarded me with one, the price was 6/6d (33p), and it would be goodbye to my old oil lamp that had resulted in the burnt finger of the policeman. I can laugh at the episode now.

Now I could re-enact the "Lighting Up Time" scene Patterson had so admirably portrayed. It was mid autumn, and one evening as I arrived home from work, I vowed that this would be the night I would achieve my little ambition. I recall it was not quite dusk, as I wheeled my bike from its shed in Back America Row and pedalled up Halliwell Road, dipping down to Smithills Dean. How well my acetylene lamp looked on its bracket below the handlebars and I was as happy as the proverbial king. I began the slow ride up Smithills Dean (I could ride it then). I thrilled to the turning at the top of the Dean to Scout Road, passing the Bryan Hey Reservoir, and then the lovely swoop down to Belmont Road.This was the cycling life I loved, very little traffic then, the scents of autumn around, the bike running sweetly and with not a care in my early teenage years. I swept down to the stone setts of the hill to Belmont village, and then I turned by the Black Dog Inn, and the moorland road to Hordern Stoops and Rivington was before me.

The autumn dusk was now cloaking the moorlands and the road was absolutely deserted. Passing the ‘Blue Lagoon’ reservoir, I began to walk, and nearing the summit I decided that this would be the spot of my "Lighting Up Time" Patterson had depicted. I opened the glass of the lamp, and turned the water valve on that controlled the drops to change the carbide to gas. I sniffed at the burner to see if the gas was coming through, and lighting a match there was a plop as the gas ignited to flood the road with a lovely broad beam of light.

I was the happiest of cycling boys, a lovely acetylene cycle lamp, the contours of the curving moorlands all around silhouetted against the autumn sky, and it was all mine.I gave a silent "Thank You" to Patterson and then I was sweeping down to Rivington and relishing every moment of my ride through Horwich and the climb to my homeward road.

I passed the Blundell Arms and loved the freewheel down to Bob’s Smithy, my lamp beaming the road so lovely. Indeed, instead of going back to Halliwell via Doffocker and New Church Road, I turned at Bob’s Smithy towards Walker Fold. This was a night to be savoured, and I was determined to live it to the full.

Thrilling was the swoop down Walker Fold to Colliers Row and not a soul around to see my exuberance and joy of my cycle acetylene lamp. At the junction of Halliwell Dean and Scout Road, I sat down fur a few minutes, the bike by my side resting on the seat, the beam from the lamp so lovely, as I realised that the "magic" of this ride would soon be ending when I would reach Halliwell Road.Now, there may be several of my readers unfamiliar how a cycle acetylene lamp worked. There was the upper body which contained water, under that was the light chamber with a burner and a pipe linked to the lower chamber which contained the carbide. A control valve on top enabled drops of water to drip onto the carbide to produce acetylene gas which when lighted gave a lovely beam reflected by the lamp reflector itself.

After resting on the fingerpost seat, I began the descent of Halliwell Dean which, in those days, was paved with large "setts" for horse traffic. Down, down, and down I freewheeled, the bike bouncing over the rough surface. Now I have mentioned the burner of the lamp of which there were two types, a ‘screw in’ one and a ‘push in’ one. Mine was the ‘push in’ type. Speeding swiftly as I was and due to the vibration, there came a decided "plop" as the burner had jumped out of its pipe, and immediately the front of the bike and lamp was enveloped in flames, as burning gas was pouring out of it.

This was the night a "Beacon would burn on Halliwell Dean". I hurriedly dismounted, in disbelief at it all. The glass shattered and the autumn evening breeze fanned the flames alarmingly. No amount of blowing would quell the blaze and I took off my cap to try to push it into the lamp to douse the display. Frantically I managed to take the lamp from its bracket and throw it onto the road. I was almost in tears, as I looked at it, so sorrowful and shattered. My lovely lamp and all those weeks of saving for it, as for Patterson, I was saying some unkind words about him.

Disconsolate I continued homewards, riding without light, and ready to dismount if any policeman should appear. It was the saddest of boys who reached home that night, knowing the events of the evening would always be with me.

These days, as ‘lighting up’ time approaches, I switch on the dynamo, which with a gentle purr lights the road magnificently. Modern "halogen" bulbs in the lamps perform perfectly, and I also have a "back up" rear light with three ‘L. E. .D. s’, (Light Emitting Diodes). It is all high tech. I have a handlebar computer, ‘indexed’ gears and the most efficient of brakes. It is all a far cry from those early days. But! I still have a soft spot for the acetylene lighting of old. It recaptures nostalgia for those golden days of cycling, when life was at a much leisurely pace and the wonderful friendship and comradeship of the open road prevailed. Besides, I still love Patterson and the collection of his sketches recalling it all.




A Few Photo's from the Bolton Clarion in the late 1890's


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Bolton News Article from 10th March 2004


BOLTON Clarion Cycling Club was a successful organisation long before the current obsession with health and fitness. It celebrated its centenary in 1995 and is still going strong. Mr Harry Speak of Bury New Road, Bolton popped into the office recently with this picture from either 1948, 1949 or 1950 - he is not quite sure which. He does know that he is on the right in the fetching shorts and that they were pictured outside Bolton town hall on the day they had an enjoyable ride to Cheshire. The National Clarion Cycling Club goes back to the days when the unstable Penny Farthing was replaced by the triangular "safety cycle." Mr Robert Blatchford, a leading Socialist activist, journalist and publisher, called in his weekly newspaper, "The Clarion", for working people to make the most of the new opportunity to explore countryside - previously the province of the rich - and spread the Socialist message of fellowship. As well as cycling there were social clubs, rambling clubs, handicraft groups and even choirs. The Bolton club was kept ticking over by older members until the 1980s and was then revived by younger enthusiasts. I came across the following Evening News report from March, 1904 which gives a wonderful flavour of the times: "Saturday found some 70 Clarion cyclists and friends at Rivington, the occasion being the opening run, tea party and social at the unitarian School in the village. After tea a social was held. The Rev S. Thompson presided and delivered a pithy address on old England sports. Between the dancing Miss Sandham sang most sweetly, giving entire satisfaction and pleasure to the company. Comrades Hancroft and Marsh also sang and a couple of recitations were contributed by Comrade Fred Wild, also one by Comrade Nicholson of Preston. The affair on the whole was up to the mark and everybody seemed to have a good time. The ride home at night put all in good heart and the Secretary reports that they feel as if a very good start has been made for the season. Run cards are now ready and he is wishful to supply all intending members."






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