Withington Wheelers Cycling Club started in 1931. Below are a few words from founding member Jim Forbes explaining how the club began. We also have a full history of the club being worked on by Russ Forbes. You'll find links to the completed chapters below and more will be added as they are finshed. There's some fascinating information and it's well worth a read for anyone interested in the history of our club.
"The Withington Wheelers sprang to life in early 1931. Much thought had gone into the formation of the club and on a certain day in 1931 it was decided to start a cycling club on official lines. The NCU (National Cyclists Union) were approached by letter and Charlie Hawksworth (the NCU Treasurer at the time) wrote in return. Charlie handwrote a 4-page letter on 'how to form a Cycling Club’….. this letter is still in the possession of the Club.
A meeting was called at Jim Forbes's house at 12, Moorfield Street, Withington, and so great was the attendance (approximately 70) that the only way to make progress was to adjourn to the local park where a Mr Leeming of the NCU presided. There was no BC (British Cycling) or RTTC (now the CTT) at that time and all cycling matters were handled by the NCU.
The cost of joining an existing cycling club was prohibitive in those days. The YMCA, the EAC and the Manchester Wheelers were expensive to the young lads concerned, pennies were hard to come by and it was decided that the only way was to form a Club on a weekly subscription basis. However this method was found to have difficulties in collection and eventually the club went ahead with a nominal subscription of 3/6 per annum (i.e. three shillings and sixpence, some 17½ pence in today’s money). This was deemed to be within the pocket of members and by the summer of that 1931 there were 45 active members.
Charlie Hawksworth (in his letter) suggested we approached a businessman named Harry Wilson to be President of the Club. He resided at 119 College Road, Withington and a deputation of two members, Colin Wright and Jim Forbes, kept an appointment and presented themselves at his house finding the ‘one and only’ Tommy Barlow present. Mr Wilson accepted the presidency, proving to be a very generous man…. allowing the club to use his factory premises at 18, London Road for Committee Meetings. One year we were unfortunate to have a club treasurer who absconded with the all the money held in the club funds, Mr Wilson reimbursed us.
During the first meeting Tommy Barlow was elected Vice President, he was a member of the Manchester Wheelers and served on the National Committee of the Road Records Association.
In those days many youths were ‘unattached’ ie they did not belong to a cycling club and as such were pur Novices and we saw an opportunity to enlarge our membership by promoting an Open Novices 25 and a hill climb. On hearing this Tommy Barlow remarked, “Angels step in where fools fear to tread”. We would learn over the coming years that such maxims were part of Tommy’s make-up.
So under the guidance of these two seasoned cyclists the Open Novices 25 was launched in April 1932 and the Open Hill Climb in October 1933. The move paid off, the first club handbook was printed in 1933 showing 45 members, all male, as it wasn’t until 1936 that females were admitted.
A winged wheel was chosen as the Club’s badge but was almost immediately disregarded in favour of the Lancashire Red Rose. This too was thrown out in favour of the current White Lion, the name of the hotel in the centre of Withington where the Club used to start it’s Sunday runs.
It is worthy of note that in response to a speech at a club dinner, Tommy Barlow commented “I always thought the rampant lion was in some was connected with the Crusades and I must say it was something of a disappointment to learn it was the motif of a local pub!
Chapter 1. The formation and early years of the club Chapter 2. The War Years Chapter 3. From the Ashes Chapter 4. The Fifties Chapter 5. The Sixties and Seventies Chapter 6. Resurgence in the 1980s and into the new century Chapter 7. The Grimpeurs and the Open Hill Climb Chapter 8. The Blue Riband – “that 25 record” Chapter 9. The Novices 25 Chapter 10. The Club Hill Climb Chapter 11. The BAR Club Championship Chapter 12. The History of the Inter Club 1987 - 2017