The First Lune Constitution:
Minutes of General Meeting held at Savages
Queen Square 4th of January (Tuesday),1949
Present – Adcroft, Mr Bye, Mr Robinson, Mr Clarke, Mr Savage, Mr Smith & Mr Nowell, Mr Dowthwaite
Mr. Adcroft was elected Secretary
Mr. Bye was elected Treasurer
Mr. Nowell was elected Chairman
Forms for membership of the B.L.R.C. were issued and instructions given for return of these with the appropriate fees to Mr. Bye.
The Constitution stated herein was drafted
Club colours were decided on as Red and white provisional to the acceptance by the B.L.R.C.
It was decided to hold weekly rides over country which would favour and help train a roadman for racing but at the moment to be rides on which any member could take part.
A bid for more members was made.
Rides were fixed for Sun 8th to go to Dentdale
A meeting was fixed for the Fri 24th Jan at Savages. It was decided to try to contact Mr. Myers who starts the Morecambe- Bradford
Any helpful suggestions were appealed for.
Meeting closed 9-30pm
P.J. Nowell Chairman
1) That the club should be named Lune Racing Cycling Club.
2) To promote road cycling sport in the district with preference to massed start racing.
3) To publicise cycling.
4) Every member shall be a private member of the B.L.R.C. as well as affiliated through the club
5) That the club subscription should be 2/6d
6) That a committee should be elected each year and shall consist of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer
1 member to represent the senior racing team
1 member to represent the junior racing team
1 member to represent touring interests. Y.H.A. etc.
7) The club racing colours shall be white and red as approved by the B.L.R.C.
The following text was written by Pete Nowell in 1999 as an account of the history of Lune Racing Cycling Club. Following on from that are a collection of photographs compiled by Walter Shepherd, Gordon Helme and many others unknown, charting the early days of the club, the early races in which they entered and organized and the clubs involvement in larger races which came to the North-West.
Origins and Early History of the Lune RCC
“Prior to 1949, there was no road racing club in Lancaster . The only racing readily available was time trialling with Lancaster C.C. under R.T.T.C. rules with possibly a bit of track racing at Fallowfield in Manchester, and some closed circuit racing on aerodromes and motor racing circuits around the country under N.C.U. (National Cyclists Union).
Unfortunately the N.C.U. races were always a long distance away and I never heard of anyone from Lancaster travelling to them but a few of the Kent Valley did. There was also “illegal” grass track racing at Lakeland sports meetings like Grasmere and Keswick, so anybody riding these in these kept quiet about it in case they got suspended by the N.C.U. or R.T.T.C.
Until 1942, the only proper road race was the Manx International. This was held under the N.C.U. rules on closed roads and got going in 1936 but was not held during the war.
Then in 1942, the revolution occurred when Percy Stallard from Wolverhampton (who was himself an International roadman having won many races on Brooklands and Donnington circuits and ridden in World Championships) organised the Llangollen to Wolverhampton race on open roads.
This led to the formation of the B.L.R.C. (British League of Racing Cyclists) shortly afterwards in order to organise Continental style racing on British roads.
Very quickly B.L.R.C. clubs were formed with the first being in Wolverhampton , Bradford , London and Manchester with races like the Tour of the Peak and Morecambe-Bradford appearing. By the time the war ended in 1945, there were a fair number of races with the first major stage race being put on as the Brighton to Glasgow Victory Marathon.
From 1943 until 1948 the only B.L.R.C. clubs north of Manchester were the Prestwich Olympic, the Northern Criterium Club in Bury, the East Lanc ’s Velo in Blackburn and the Ribble Valley in Preston which was started by Andy Anderton in 1948.
Those of us from Lancaster who often road into Yorkshire met the Bradford B.L.R.C. lads in cafes etc so we went to see them in the Morecambe-Bradford going over Buckhaw Brow, and that was it!
With bright jerseys, racing caps, goggles and whirring of gears who could resist it, particularly in the sunshine and when they were going like hell with a tail wind.
All the famous names were there like Geoff Clark, Bob Thom, Ernie Clements, Les Plume and Walter Greaves who had only one arm and shot down Buckhaw with the rest of ‘em with a rod and a cup attached to his bars in order to steer.
It was great to see these pioneers of road racing and better still, not long after, to be riding with them. Another race which prodded us into action was the hilly N.C.U. race at Richmond around Catterick Camp with men like Alec Taylor from Belgium , Tiny Thomas from Bradford and Bob Maitland from Birmingham riding.
Although this was the real thing, like the Manx International, it wasn’t much use to us because it was only held once a year and we wanted to do it all the time. So it was good-bye to time trialling on Brock in black racing kit and fixed wheels (except in winter) and we went over to Ron Kitching’s in Harrogate and Ossie Jackson’s shop in Nelson to get our Continental tackle.
They also sold Continental magazines packed with photo’s of the aces like Coppi, Bartali and Robic in the Alps and the Pyrenees which really pepped us up, making us go at least a couple of mph faster on the way home!
Some other seeds of inspiration were sown earlier from a similar but unexpected source in Harry Aspden’s articles on the pre-war stars like Christophe, Maes, Pelissier and Vietto etc. in Cycling (now Cycling Weekly). Generally there was nothing else but time trialling in the magazine.
The Lune was formed on Tuesday, 4th January 1949 in Savage’s bedding shop loft in Queen Square, Morecambe with Fred Adcroft, Geoff Bye, Bert Clarke, Brian Dowthwaite, Peter Nowell, Parry Robinson, Jack Savage and Donald Smith in attendance.
This was followed on Sunday 9th January by the first club ride to Buttermere. There is a photo to prove it, taken on Newlands by Donald Smith (Don Juan). This shows a young Ian Brown with his arm around me and we have been close mates ever since.
Strictly speaking Ian was only half an original Lune man because although he qualified going to Buttermere with us, he went into the R.A.F. soon after. He stayed with the L.C.C. until he came out of the RAF in 1951, so he could ride the N.C.U. races on aerodromes etc. with the Manx International thrown in as a bonus, and he was third in 1950.
By the time the 1949 season got under way, the club had grown a bit with the McPherson brothers (Pete and John), Tom Baines, Eddie Harling, Alan Nicholas, Leslie Smith, Jim McClelland, Dave Rutherford and Derek Smithson having joined.
The first race was a club time trial around Abbeystead and Jubilee Tower on 27th March 1949 . To put the record straight Fred Adcroft, Tom Baines, Ian Brown, Geoff Bye, Brian Dowthwaite, Leslie Smith, Derek Smithson and myself were from the L.C.C. with Geoff Bye being one of the key movers as we were at Morecambe Grammar School together (along with Adcroft, Baines, Brown, Dowthwaite, Larrad and Smithson).
It was Geoff more than anyone else who forever spurred me on into starting the club.
Interestingly, Parry Robinson and Bert Clarke came from the Kent Valley which has always had close connections with the Lune. Although Parry and Bert never raced with Kent Valley they were climbers par excellence.
Bert could have been a double for Pantani. He was about 5ft 6ins in height, of light build and had no hair (since he had alopoecia). So he always wore a pudding cloth (cap with no peak) on his head and to use the Lune jargon of the time he looked a real ‘quoise’ grimpeur.
Later from the Kent Valley , there was Geoff Downham, Bill Hodgson, Bill Townsend, Ged Brear, Mike Howson, Ronnie Martin, Bob Swailes and Phil Leigh who were all something special.
In the early 1950’s there was also another small club (Kendal R.C.C.) organised by Mike Cranston, which helped to keep the B.L.R.C. flag flying. Whether the Kendal lads were in the Lune or not never really mattered as some of them always went to Buttermere with us and, as it’s a bit easier (40 miles shorter) from Kendal, this eventually became a Kent Valley ride.
This suited me fine because when my parents moved to Carr Bank I had a few years in the Kent Valley myself.
To get back to the 1949 season, our first open road race was the Rhos-on Sea Mountain Time Trial on 8th May over Denbigh moors. About eight of us road down to Llanrwst via Warrington , Chester and Corwen and then road home again on the Sunday doing over 300 miles in the weekend.
This was a hell of a long way, particularly for the juniors, and none of the seniors was more than a few months over 18 either. Although the miles took the edge off us a bit, we didn’t do so bad (Nowell 4th , Robinson 11th , Clarke 19th and Juniors Dowthwaite 28th, P McPherson 33rd).
A week later an Australian Pursuit on the cobbles at Bury was disastrous with all our lads puncturing or crashing. From then on in the season things got better and we started to pick up a few wins (Nowell-Peak Velo Road Race and Holcombe Circuit, Robinson – Denbighshire G.P.)
Although there were not a lot of races, they were all very hilly and hard, so we prepared for them by doing lots of miles on the blank weekends with a regular programme of evening club time trials on the Abbeystead circuit. The results of all our early races from 1949 to about 1953 are shown in the record books.
Little did we know what we were starting when we were sitting up in Savage’s loft at the inaugural meeting in January 1949. Who would have thought we would produce someone like Ian Brown who was in the first British team in the tour of Spain in 1955 and held the yellow jersey in the Tour of Champagne in 1957.
Then we can’t forget Jonny Larrad who was another star performer and improved us all by making us kill ourselves trying to beat him.
When Ian left to ride abroad, Walter Shepherd became our best known rider who I think won more races than anybody else before or since.
Later there was Bill Nixon, Gordon Helme and Alan Dent who was probably fastest of the lot. I remember seeing him win a hard stage of the Tour of Ireland in 1979 and it was spectacular, straight down the middle of the road with nobody else in the dozen or so left in the bunch being able to get past his wheel.
Although Alan was in Kirkby C.C. colours at the time, we will not hold that against him as he learned his trade in the Lythe Valley , on Shap and Kirkstone like all Lune men did in the early years.
One of the high spots for me was when we won the team, riding for Lakeland in the 1954 Oats (Amateur our of Britain ) with Bill Hodgson 11th , Nowell 15th and Eric Atkinson 21st. In the 1955 Oats Ken Stratford won the Whitley Bay stage and in 1956 Walter Shepherd won a killer wet stage in to Weston-super-Mare .
It’s all ancient history now but what we did usually seemed to work out pretty well and our white and red jerseys became well known all over the country.
“Pitty the Poles went and pinched our colours” as Bill Townsend said when he came back from the Peace Race. From 1952 onwards there were a few who wore green Tudor Olympic jerseys instead as a means of getting more of our riders into races, with the Atkinson brothers (Eric and Ron) and Stan Curwen being the first Tudor men.
Ron (Pin) of featherweight build could pedal away from any of us on long hard hills when the kicking up technique which most of us used just didn’t work.
In 1952, as well as inventing the Tudor Olympic which I think was the idea of the Shepherds and Atkinson, we organised our first open road race on the old Capernwray course on 22nd June and the Capernwray has been run by the club just about continuously ever since, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest apart from the Tour of the Peak.
In 1953 we got more adventurous and organised the first Tour of the Lakes which was a single day job going round Thirlmere and through Bowness and Newby Bridge, with the start at Morecambe.
To our eternal disgrace though Bernard Curry from L.C.C. won the Lakes with that scrubber Ian Brown being a highly dischuffed third. Not to be outdone, the Lune men said it was not hilly enough. So in 1954 the course included Kirkstone and Matterdale but we only got third again with Bill Hodgson. That said it was certainly a much better race!
Talking about the bigger races with starts and finishes in Morecambe, there was the Redcar-Morecambe and back with Ian Brown third in 1953 and Ken Stratford and myself equal firth in 1954.
By some fluke in 1950 I managed to win the last Morecambe-Bradford race ever held, from Ken Russell and Ken Jowett, making us feel particularly good.
I don’t know if any of you have ever wondered why there was a white line permanently painted on the road outside Geoff Bury’s hotel on the Prom. The answer is quite simple, because it is in Lune land! When the first Tour of Britain which was organised regionally came to Morecambe the club organised just about everything apart from judging and time-keeping.
So with the following Tours tending to go to similar places as the first Tour the white line stayed there for over twenty years.
How things had developed. From being spectators at the Morecambe-Bradford in the late 40’s we had got to the centre of things and become road racing pioneers ourselves by the 1950’s.
Afterwards, it was very much due to the efforts of Edgar Phillips that the club survived. He was a gutsy and determined rider, and has been a member from almost the beginning.
No doubt old hands will smile a bit when they read this, certainly when they find the odd mistake or two. I think though like me they will feel proud of what they did getting the club going and it lasting.
The only sad thing is that some of them who so proudly wore their white and red jerseys are no longer with us.”
17th April 1999
Pete Nowell (centre), cycle touring in the Lake District 1946
Pete Nowell on bicycle 1947
Copy of record showing Lune R.C.C.’s first organised event. A Mountain Time Trial near
Lancaster on 27th March 1949 and Results Sheet of the Lune R.C.C.’s first Mountain Time Trial on 27th March 1949 .
A record of the first explorations as a club in to open events.