Updated: Jul 1, 2019
It was around Easter time in 1937 that a band of cyclists from the Thornton and Cleveleys area set in motion a cycling club the likes of which none of these pioneers could have foreseen. As a result the Cleveleys Cycling Club was formed and founder members included Alan Murray, Jim Davies, Sam Hamer and Jack Buckley. Also associated with the formation of the club were two local cycle traders, Syd Turner and Wilf Sumner, the latter also being a cycling member. The first meeting of the club and indeed most of the early meetings was held over Ellis's cycle shop in Victoria Road and club subscriptions were fixed at one penny a week to cover the cost of maps which was the only expenditure at this time.Records show that the first club run was to the Quernmore area and was attended by 16 riders on a wide variety of cycles. Frequent stops were made to fix one rider's pedal which kept falling off.The onset of war in 1939 brought the club's activities to a halt. A sum of £10 was frozen in the bank until the club could be re-formed. Soon the effects of the war showed with the death of Sam Hamer due to enemy action. In the spring of 1946 the club came to life again. A meeting was called by Alan Murray and Wilf Sumner. This was attended by two local cyclists, Iris Pemberton and lan Cave plus a group of Blackpool cyclists who were trying to form a club. The most notable of these was John Rushton. A committee was formed and a programme of touring was arranged. At a general meeting in 1949, called by the organising committee, a new constitution, rules and standing orders were passed. The club's name was changed to the Cleveleys Road Club and the secretary, Alan Murray, was instructed to write to the National Cyclists Union for their "Rules of Racing”.By the following January racing and social committees had been formed and the membership had risen to 29. In June, with the membership at 36, it was proposed by John Rushton that a campaign be opened for a clubroom. By mid-December one had been acquired at Little Thornton and the membership increased to 60.1953 saw the racing section begin to make their presence felt. John Stott won the North Lancashire Time Trials Association 25 miles title and then in his own club's open 25 miles event recorded 59 minutes 15 seconds, the first "under the hour" 25 by a Cleveleys rider. John Stott then followed with a 58-44 in the National Championship to take ninth place. In 1954 the clubroom at Little Thornton was bought and a programme of improvements embarked upon. This year saw a necessary leap in the club's building fund with four dances, a football sweep and various other money spinners providing the cash. Racing had continued to impress with John Rushton breaking the club's 12 hour record with a ride of 235 miles. It is recorded that in 1955 about 35 members were attending club runs and many enjoyed monthly hostel weekends. Around this time the exodus to Canada had started and many members were lost to the club. Of the remaining members the next year or two saw many of them marry and the club's membership took one of it's most serious knocks ever.The Cleveleys, during the early 1950's had been the envy of many club's throughout north Lancashire for its large number of lady members. With the membership around the 60 mark half of these were females and it was noticeable that many other clubs altered their runs to coincide with the Cleveleys at dinner and tea places because of this fact.A big feature of the club was that it had a very good social side due to these ladies. If the club decided to run a dance, a hot-pot supper or any other social function the ladies would take over and do all the necessary arranging.Whilst these ladies helped in no small measure to establish the club not only as a touring and racing club, but also as a fine social club it is only fitting that some of these ladies should be remembered for their services to the club. These included, in alphabetical order, Eileen Armitage, Joan Barnacle, Pat Crompton, Pat Earnshaw,Barbara Eccles, Geremy Gartside, Jill Gifford, Margaret Hadfield, Hazel Hilton, Margaret Hirst, Kath Horrocks,Kath Iredale, Jill and Wendy Kane, Glenys Mills, JeanMoore, Iris Pemberton, Vera Poole, Louie Porter, Edna Riley, Edna Ryder, Jurdy Stanley and Winnie Thompson.There were others too numerous to name, but they all shared in helping to build the foundations of a successful club. By 1958 the membership had again risen to 40and the clubroom extensions and modifications had been completed. Much of the credit for this went to Derek Bradbury whose tireless work saw the clubroom provided with new toilets and a kitchen. It was shortly after the completion of this work that Derek moved out of the area due to his job taking him to Cheshire.This was a great loss to the club, but fortunately it coincided with the return to the area of John Rushton who had been working in the Manchester area for the past few years. John was to take up the reins from Derek and the club continued to prosper. By this time the first venture into massed start racing had been made. This had only just become possible following the merger between the National Cyclists Union and the British League of Racing Cyclists.Partly to justify the club's constitution that the club is a touring club with a racing off-shoot, the first open tourists' trial was promoted in 1958 following several years of having run club events of this nature.Jack Slater won the Fylde Cyclists' Combine best all-rounder competition and the club took the team award for the first time in 1959. This was to become an annual honour for the club as their racing strength grew stronger until the Combine, which had originally been a competition between six local clubs, was abandoned some ten years later.
Racing began to dominate the club's activities. Brian Cowling raised the club's 12 hour record to 247miles and the 100 miles record to 4-14-08 in 1960. Peter Shuttleworth broke the 10 miles record with a 22-52 ride in 1961 and in 1962 he broke the 50 miles record with a time of 2-0-42.The club's 25th anniversary year of 1962 also brought their first big successes under the massed start code. Brian Cowling won the Lakeland division senior road race championship whilst Barry Singleton took the schoolboy's title.
1962 was also the year when Randy Allsopp joined the club from the West Lancashire RC. His first season with the club was spent mostly racing on the continent where he recorded three winning rides. Randy's return for the 1963 season was sensational. Four club records fell to him including John Stott's 10 year old 25miles record and also Stott's seven year old 30 miles record. He also lowered the 50 miles record by almost five minutes with a time of 1-57-17 and this gained him first place in the National Championship - the club's first national champion. The same year also saw him take fourth place in the National Pursuit Championship on the Fallowfield track.About this time the first Blackpool Cycling Weekend was promoted by the club. This was held on the Promenade and was to become a popular event for both riders and spectators and quickly became the club's main showpiece.Success followed success with records being broken almost annually. In 1966 Allsopp clipped the 10miles record to 21-26, the 25 record to 54-47 and the 50record to 1-54-45. This was the year that saw him set national track records which have still never been beaten. These were in a motor-paced record attempt on the Fallowfield track. Allsopp's records were, flying start quarter mile in 19.3 seconds, half mile in 38.76 and one mile in 78.7 seconds. From a standing start he clocked five miles in 7 minutes 7.2 seconds and ten miles in 13minutes 59.2 seconds. Officially these national records will never be beaten as the British Cycling Federation has since gone metric and erased these distances from their books. Still, these times prove the class of Allsopp who was riding behind the motors for only his third time ever.Joining the club in 1966, Mike Gadd won the club's road race championship in his first season and in 1967 won the Lakeland division 25 miles time trial championship with a time of 53-38.1967 also brought Randy Allsopp more honors in the form of first place in the best all-rounder competition open to Cyclists' Touring Club members only.Even more national honors were to come to the club in 1968. Riding in a 30 miles time trial Mike Gadd recorded 1-7-42 which narrowly missed the competition record but backed up by Peter Shuttleworth with a 1-8-31 and Brian Scarisbrick with 1-9-51 their aggregate time of 3-26-04 set a new national team record.Randy Allsopp was picked to ride in the Northern team for the Milk Race and whilst not figuring in the top places overall he was determined to finish. On the final stage into Blackpool he gave everything in chasing two riders who had broken clear. His lone chase across the Fylde was memorable and he took third place in the stage on Blackpool's Middle Walk to a tremendous ovation.1968 was another great season for Allsopp when he became the first Cleveleys rider to beat four hours for a 100 miles time trial with a time of 3-59-08. It should be remembered that at the time only a mere three or four riders in the whole country had beaten four hours at this distance.Records and honors continued to come to the club. David Leadbetter won the Lakeland division schoolboy's championship in 1969 and followed this with two Lakeland division junior road race titles in the next two seasons. It was in the late sixties that the club moved their headquarters away from Little Thornton to the Blackpool Rangers clubroom in Mossom Lane. This, at the time, was a good move as the cost of keeping the old club room in good order was becoming very high. The fact that it was only used one night a week seemed a very high cost for the club to bear. Eventually the clubroom was sold and the money put into the building fund.
The successes continued into the 70's. Randy Allsopp became the 25 miles national champion and was second in the 50 miles championship. His biggest honor was to come in 1972 when he was selected for the Munich Olympic Games. This selection came after a great performance in the Tour of Holland when he finished in tenth place overall. Randy was selected for the100km time trial and also for the road race. A remarkable schedule of training followed consisting of eight hours hard cycling each day and this strict regimen of training could only have been undertaken by someone with the determination of Allsopp. The climax came with the Tour of Switzerland which was held just prior to the Olympics. Many countries had entered their road race teams in this event as final preparation for the Olympics and the quality of racing was understandably very high. Alas, unfortunately for Allsopp, he was involved in three spills, the last of which resulted in cracked ribs. A bout of bronchitis resulting from this left him on the sidelines at Munich and realising that a dream was gone.Mike Gadd was becoming a top time triallist at this time. In 1974 he lowered the club's 10 miles record to22-11 and in 1976 he had a remarkable season. In all he broke club records at 10, 25 and 30 miles. At 10 miles he clocked 20-42 and with Dave Shorrock (21 -53) and GeoffBain (22-28) a new aggregate team record of 1 -5-03 was established. Gadd's new 25 miles record of 52-19 was backed up by Geoff Bain (54-45) and Randy Allsopp(55-00) to create new team figures of 2-42-04. His new30 miles record of 1 -6-22 was helped by Dave Shorrock(1-8-33) and Geoff Bain (1-10-36) to give new team figures of 3-25-31.Another change of headquarters came in 1980when the Cleveleys left the Blackpool Rangers premises to move to the nearby Bispham Community Centre. This again proved to be an excellent move as attendances at the Monday evening club nights rose to the 50 and 60mark. Club membership was booming too as by now the club was the only effective cycling club on the Fylde Coast.
A reunion of members and ex-members from the early 50's was held in 1980. Many of the ex-members who had left the area were amazed when the chief guest, Randy Allsopp, outlined the club's racing activities in recent years.Another club record was established in 1980 when Fred Randall became the club's first rider to complete a24 hour event. Although he had ridden several times previously in Fleetwood RC and Fylde RC colours this was his first venture with the Cleveleys. The result was a ride of 360.862 miles for the veteran.The club at this time could boast of a very strong veterans racing section with Barry Hufton being a fine example to his club mates. In 1980 Barry completed his third successive season of winning standard medals at every distance - 25, 30, 50, 100 miles and 12 hours - and this at the age of 72.hours again when he recorded 269.950 miles.
With an aggregate time of 12-07-45 a new club team record for 100 miles was set in 1993 by Martyn Bowes who recorded 3-59-41, Henry Iddon with 4-03-27 and Mark Middleton with 4-04-37.Martyn Bowes Oakenclough Hilly In 1994 Henry Iddon was to set new club record sat 50 miles with a 1-47-26 ride, 100 miles in 3-46-35 and 12 hours with 269.950.1996 proved to be yet another good year for the club. Martyn Bowes set new club records at 10 miles with a 20-24 and at 30 miles with a 1 -05-40. Craig Miller in his first season with the club won the NLTTA Best All-Rounder title having recorded 54-28 for 25 miles, 1 -51 -52 for 50 miles, 3-54-28 for 100 miles and 256.833 miles for12 hours. Backed up by Keith McKay and Gary Acton the Cleveleys trio took the NLTTA team award also. This was the third time that the Cleveleys had taken both the individual and team championships in this competition following their successes in 1963 and 1967.
The outstanding start to the racing career of Craig Miller was to be dogged following these successes by illness but in 1999 he was to return and although confining himself to the shorter distance events he captured the club's 10 miles record with a ride of 20-17.Some of the club's outstanding organisers deserve a mention here. Lou Miller had joined the club in the1980's and was soon to be putting forward useful contributions to the club. A former Tour of Britain rider from the 1950's era, he was an active organiser, racing cyclists and also an ardent campaigner for cyclists rights on the road.Having joined the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists he found that the nearest races to be organized under this banner were in Derbyshire. He set about organising a local group and was soon to become the coordinator for the LVRC having instigated groups in other parts of the country. From under 100 members of the LVRC when he joined, the organisation soon had over 1,000 members and this was due in no small part to Lou Miller. In 1990 he was largely instrumental "in forming the Fylde Coast Cycling Action Group to campaign for better facilities throughout the area. The building of the new Shard bridge across the River Wyre saw him suggesting a roundabout on the northern side which he said would greatly assist the many club cyclists who used the bridge. This was finally agreed and the roundabout was constructed. The untimely death of Lou shortly afterwards prompted cyclists to suggest a tribute to him and a plaque was erected at the roundabout which is now known to cyclists as Miller Island. It was in 1999 that John Rushton, the long serving secretary of the club, resigned his position. Always active in the club since its reformation in 1947, John Rushton had carried the mantle of general secretary for over 40 years. In those years he had also organised the Blackpool Cycling Weekend for 20 years and promoted the club's open 100 miles time trial for over 30 years. For many years he had served as a timekeeper and was in great demand for local time trials for many clubs events. The year following his retirement saw John move home to Lincolnshire.
And so to a new century. What was in store for the Cleveleys? Could the fine run of successes continue - the answer obviously lies in the present and future members of the club to see that it does.The new secretary of the club was Steve Whiteside who arrived in the position with much enthusiasm and many new ideas. His plans for the club, if backed up by the club members should ensure a great future.The year 2000 also saw Chris Naylor gain his international commissaire's accreditation, some thing which he had worked hard for and finally entailed examinations which were held in Beijing. Having served in several capacities in such events as the Tour of Lancashire, the Milk Race, the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Langkawi, Chris Naylor fully deserved this award and will be a great asset not only to the Cleveleys, but to events both nationally and internationally in the future. A great acquisition to the club came in 2000 when Caroline Cook joined the club. Already a noted rider in her native Scotland, she was soon to show her skill in Cleveleys colours. Her first ride for the club was in the ladies 25 miles national championship and her time of 59-57 gained her third place as well as creating a new Cleveleys ladies record. This was later followed by a fifth place in the ladies10 miles national championship and with a time of 22-09 she also set a new ladies record for the Cleveleys.