Monday, 10 March 2008

#010 Touring with the LECC

The following day I started work in an office specialising in lace design and draughtsmanship. I was with them for a year, it was very interesting and to this day (1998) 1 can still remember putting patterns on those long machines and sticking round bit in the holes of the jacquards at the rear. Panic stations existed when nylon was introduced, because when it broke you could not find an end ‑ it just disappeared. I was still cycling and was used by our gaffer to deliver patterns in a 10 mile radius of Long Eaton.

By this time I had joined the Long Eaton Cycling Club, not to race but to go touring. It’s funny how one remembers those first club runs. At Tissington, where the famous well dressings took place each year, then through a host of lanes where tea was taken at Kirk Ireton, then back home via the Cubleys. There then followed visits to Creswell Crags and Welbeck Tunnels. These connected the big houses of the Dukes hence the name for the area “Dukeries”. Dinner was at Cuckney and tea at The Hut near Mansfield. We toured the Snake Pass, Cat & Fiddle, Mooredge and the Roches. Club run to Derwent was a must; we watched the early construction of Lady Bower dam, which was opened late in the war. We also had a run to Frieston Shore near Boston, whose idea that was I don't recall ‑ only that it was a heap of mud and we had cross winds too. Another run that sticks in my mind was to Lincoln Cathedral and the Castle and the Jail that was not then in use. The mines at Castleton was another long run with Winitts Pass and Mam Tor then on to Dove Holes and back through Buxton stopping at Tideswell for tea, then a long bash home.

Another wonder of those days were the landladies of the houses with the CTC (Cycle Touring Club) sign outside, for the princely sum of 4p one could use all their facilities and also have a pot of tea included, in to‑days inflated prices its seems impossible. Several landladies come to mind, like Mrs Buckley at Rowsley. We stopped here playing cards till 9pm she never seemed to bother. In fact her husband joined in. then we had the long ride home mostly in winter.i.e 33miles.

At Waterhouses we made the acquaintance of Mrs. Hickenbottom, we called her nattering Annie, if you hadn’t booked you were in dead trouble, but after a lot of harsh words she would come round and say 'We have only got egg and chips to‑day', she always found a cake for us though, woe betide anybody else who were late and then stated they were with us they had no chance, she had a nice fire for us in winter but you were in dead trouble if you put your feet on the fender. Another great place was Mrs Boam at Winster, great food there and always a good welcome. I’m sure these women looked forward to seeing us, even though they grumbled, touring cyclists very quickly get to know the best places to eat and another ‘watering hole’ was the ‘Ever Bubbling Kettle’ at Lincoln.

Whitsun 1938 saw us on a trip to Wembley Arena for the London six day Bike race, we arranged to leave at 5.30am unfortunately I overslept. However 1 knew we were stopping for breakfast at Bruntingthorpe, so my Dad got the car out, slipped my bike on the rack and I was able to catch them up. We had breakfast then set off for Wembley travelling via Newport Pagnell and Woburn then along the A5. We had dinner at Woburn then on to Wembley for a 7 p.m. start. What a riot of colour and the track and the riders, I can still remember some of them, Cor Wals of Holland, Jeff Scherens. Karal Kears, Syd Cousins with Charlie Helps both of England. Schulte and Boyen, Vrooman, Holland. Owing to the political climate the Foreign Office in their wisdom banned the Germans and Italians, we all had a most marvellous night. We were turned out early in the morning and boy, was it cold. We rode back home dead tired in fact several of us got our capes out and slept for an hour on the pavement. That same year my pal Stan from the Somerset/Devon tour was called up to the Air Force.

Another lad of our crowd Freddie Hillier asked me to go with him to Scotland for a week, cost would be reasonable as we could stay with his Uncle Bill at Hawick. Another lad decided he would also like to come, his name, Ernie Chadwick. We left on the Friday night before the Bank Holiday weekend, stopping the first night at a transport cafe on the Ollerton Road. We were up early next day, onto the A614 then on to the A1, Fred's dad and mum were coming up to Scotland in their Morgan/Jap three wheeler. They caught us up at Wetherby and treated us to a large breakfast; the second that day, you don't half eat on a bike. We then rode up the A1 to Scotch Corner, turned left on to the A66, called at Bowes Castle and had a look round, then over the Pennines where at that time the highest railway in GB was – unfortunatley long gone now. We were very honoured to see a train go over there.

We had tea at Penrith then on to Carlisle where Fred had an uncle, thank God. We literally fell in there, his uncle owned a bakery so we had plenty to eat, we dropped into bed that night and slept like logs. Up early next day on the road to the England/Scotland border, where we stayed and took photos. Then on to Langholm, over the Moss Paul Pass to be met at the top by Fred's uncle who took us into the Moss Paul Inn for another feed, we left there and almost freewheeled in to Hawick, we stayed in a block of flats near the then Railway Bridge. We put our bikes away and didn't use them again until we came home the following Saturday. Fred's uncle took us to all the local sights and Abbeys.

We also had a trip to Edinburgh on the train, crates of beer were bought we had a whale of a time, singing all the Scottish ballads to Fred's uncle playing the mouth organ. In no time we arrived at Princess Street Station, and the fabulous Scottish capital, Princess Street was a revelation. Shops on one side and the castle and Walter Scott monument on the other, we were also taken on the train across the Forth Bridge to North Queens Ferry Station, bearing in mind the wonderful bridge was only 40 years old then, we were mesmerised. We returned back to Hawick on the train with more beer and songs. Whilst at Hawick we visited the grave of Jimmy Guthrie, the famous International Motor Cyclist, who had been killed at Hockenheim track that same year, he had skidded on a patch of oil after the finishing line and was taken to hospital. Adolf Hitler brought to his bedside his laurel leaves and trophy. Unfortunately he died shortly after. (His brother had quite a flourishing garage at that time in Hawick).

Saturday came for the day of our return, we checked the bikes - not much to check ie fixed gear with one front brake. We bid our tearful goodbyes then on the road, the pace was slow and not many words were spoken. We stopped at Fred's uncle again at Carlisle, then on the A66 to Penrith and then over Bowes Moor to Scotch Corner flying thro Borrowbridge, Wetherby, Doncaster and home. The journey was a nightmare; we arrived home having completed 250 miles in one day. All our parents were on holiday, so we had to break in to Fred's house, then to sleep for 14 hours ‑ I have never ridden so far before or since.

No comments: