Once the war was over, club life did not return to normal immediately. Thanks to the hard work of Cliff and Ethel Baxter, a number of ex-members were contacted and, on 9th December 1945, a meeting was held at Nicholson’s, Brock, and the Club was brought out of its enforced semi-hibernation. Cliff took over the position of Secretary and much of the Club’s success in the post-war years was due to his leadership, drive and organising ability.
On 7th April 1946 the Club organised its first event since the war, a 25 on the Brock course held in conjunction with the NLTTA event.
In those days very few people had cars, and petrol was still scarce, so it was the practice to ride out on the Saturday and stay at a bed and breakfast establishment near the start. 16 members rode out to Mrs Whitehead’s at Barton but she couldn’t accommodate them. Undaunted, they rode further up the road to “Dirty Dick’s” at Brock. Dirty Dick’s was a transport café with sleeping accommodation in what can only be described as chicken huts. That Saturday night a murder was committed in Preston and, at 4.00am on the Sunday morning, the police arrived and, rousing the lads from their sleep, began to question them on their movements. The murderer was still at large and the police suspected that one of the club members may have been the guilty party. Another first for the Lancashire Road Club!
16 entries were received for the event and the winner, on a cold and windy morning, was Cliff Baxter. His time of 1.10.49 relegated Horace Broughton to second place by 4 seconds. Roy Coleman, a young man riding his first event, took the handicap prize. An extract from Cliff’s Club Circular reporting the event contained the following snippet: “Ossie Jackson’s alloy bike (under 17 pounds, you lads), attracted envious eyes from the super-super fans”. (17lbs is 7.7 kilograms for those unacquainted with avoirdupois). Today, over 50 years later, 17lbs is still an extremely light bike.
In 1946, the Club promoted a number of events, Cliff Baxter was supreme in the opening 25, and became Club Champion at 50 miles (2.16.07), 100 miles (4.48.19) and 12 Hours (228.25). These times were good enough to give Cliff 57th place in the B.B.A.R. at an average speed of 20.863 mph.
Frank Cowsill, having celebrated his return to civilian life with a 2.19.28 in his first event, showed a welcome return to form in winning the Closing 25 with 1.06.08 with new member Frank Hall second in 1.06.11. In May, Jack Mullineux, the first member of the pre-war all conquering team of three to return from overseas, hoped to be “1.07 fit” for this event, but was two minutes out in his forecast, returning to the timekeeper in 1.09.23. Most members were beginning to show a return to form and the young Roy Coleman had improved from 1.15.16 to 1.09.43 in his first season.
Reubin Firth (Bronte Wheelers) won both the Open 25 (1.02.41) and Open 50 (2.08.20) and Bas Smith (Yorkshire Road Club) won the Open 12 Hour with 238.75 Miles.
In 1947 and 1948 the Club was really beginning to establish itself again on a competitive basis, and splendid rides were done by many of the up-and-coming youngsters. Most prominent of these were Roy Coleman and Alan Barker.
The Club again promoted a number of events in 1947 and in the Club 25 on 12th October, Eddie Leece turned his pedals again for the first time since the war, sharing second place with Alan Barker in 1.06.53, exactly a minute behind the winner, Roy Coleman. Cliff Baxter was again the winner of the Club 100 and 12 Hour and with those successes came the title of Club Champion, repeating his success of the previous year. He was again placed 57th in the B.B.A.R. with an increased average speed of 21.144mph.
In 1948 Alan Barker was supreme at the shorter distances, but in the Club 25 in October, Roland Greenwood, who clocked an excellent 1.02.51 to Barker’s 1.03.19, relegated him to second place. In addition to Greenwood other newcomers were making their marks, among them Harry Callaghan, Stan Dearden and Ernie ‘Bartali’ Bennetta. Roy Coleman’s consistent riding earned him the title of Club Champion.
Although Ray Coleman was the club champion, Jack Mullineux was the highest placed club member in the B.B.A.R., his average speed of 21.208mph gaining him 68th place in the table.
For the Opening 25 in 1949 the riders were met with typical early-season weather – deep snow and freezing conditions. In spite of this, the sixteen who entered all started and finished, with Roy Coleman winning in 1.05.53, a very good ride in the circumstances.
1949 was probably one of the best ever years in the Club’s history. The outstanding feature of the year was the dramatic ‘come-back’ made by pre-war star Stan Haslam. His deeds are detailed elsewhere in this narrative, but suffice it to say that he gained the highest placing in the National B.B.A.R. Competition ever achieved by a Club member. Haslam, of course, became the Club Champion with a record average speed of 22.685 mph.
Other members were also contributing to the Club’s success. During the year the Club took fifteen first and three second-team awards, and over 60 awards in open competition. These included three by lady members and five firsts by Alan Barker. In the Preston Wheelers 50, Barker’s 2.04.30, Haslam’s 2.06.25 and Coleman’s 2.08.45 put the team’s aggregate close to Competition Record. The ladies flying the flag were Connie Giller and Jean and Margaret Hutchinson, with Connie Giller becoming the first winner of the Ladies’ Championship.
In addition to his Club Championship and high placing in the National B.B.A.R. Competition, Stan Haslam won the N.L.T.T.A. Best All Rounder Competition and, backed up by Roy Coleman and Cliff Baxter, the Club also took N.L.T.T.A. Team Championship.
The consistently good riding by Cliff Baxter that year brought him the well-deserved title of North West Veterans’ Best All Rounder Champion and, to round off the season, Baxter and Coleman attacked the Liverpool to Edinburgh R.R.A. Tandem record in October.
Although the times achieved by these riders may not be fast by the standards of the 21st Century, it must be remembered that they were almost all done on fixed gears of 81 (48x16) or 82 (46x15). Cycling magazine listed ALL the under the hour rides achieved in 1949 and they numbered 54 in total. Stan Haslam appeared twice in the table in 19th place with 59.26 and 34th place with 59.45. George Fell, Becontree Wheelers, set a Competition Record of 58.00 in that year. Only 45 riders returned times better than 2.05 for 50 miles, including Stan Haslam (21st, 2.03.51) and Alan Barker (33rd, 2.04.30) and at the 100 miles distance, only 33 riders beat 4.25, with only one rider bettering 4.20. Stan Haslam was in second place with his winning ride in the National Championship in 4.20.17, and he was also in 15th place with the 4.22.36, which won him the Palatine R.C. event. For twelve hours the top mileage was 251 with 52 riders achieving over 240 miles. Stan was in 5th place with his winning 249.375 in the club’s open 12 and he was also 8th fastest with his second place ride of 247.959 in the National Championship. In that event, promoted by the Yorkshire Century R.C. the team of Haslam, Coleman, who was 11th with 238.492 and Baxter, 17th with 234.815, took second place in the team event.
CLIFF BAXTER AND ROY COLEMAN
On 2nd October 1949, Cliff and Roy, a mixture of experience and youth, teamed up for an attempt on the Liverpool to Edinburgh tandem bicycle record.
The record had been set in 1936 and was held by the Yorkshire pairing of L.Innes and W.A.Thompson with a time of 10 hours 11 minutes.
In far from favourable weather, and with a strong westerly wind, they set off from Liverpool with a schedule that would beat the record by 31 minutes.
They rode steadily clocking 4hours 13 minutes for the first 100 miles, and at Kendal were 7 minutes up on their schedule. At Moffat this had been extended to 9 minutes and, with only 20 miles still to go, they were 13 minutes up on schedule.
They reached Edinburgh after 9 hours 21 minutes 9 seconds in the saddle, but this was rounded up to the next minute, so the official time was 9.22, beating the old record by 49 minutes, 18 minutes up on their own schedule.
Although the record attempt was successful, had the conditions been more favourable, there is little doubt that they would have beaten the previous record by an even bigger margin.
Stan joined the Club in 1935 and was active not only on the racing front but also in club life in general. He served as a member of the Club Committee and he also took part in club runs and club weekends away to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. His first-ever touring trip was to Devon with Club members Fred Eldershaw, Arthur Warburton and Eddie Warren.
He was a very keen time triallist, racing at all distances up to 12 Hours. At the end of the 1937 season he finished in 43rd place in the B.B.A.R. Competition and in the following year he had improved by nine places to 34th. He was the Club Champion in 1938, winning the Club 100 and Club 12 Hour titles in the process. He was a winner of open events on a number of occasions and, together with teammates Eddie Leece, Jack Mullineux and Frank Cowsill, he was a member of many winning teams.
A steady improvement of his times looked to be certain over the next few years but, like almost everyone of his generation, he was called to serve in the army in World War II. The six years of the war were probably the prime years of his life when he would have expected to record his greatest achievements, but those years were taken out of his cycling life, so what could have been will never be known.
Stan came out of the army in 1948 after serving with distinction in Burma with the Commandos, and spent all of that year on club runs and club life in general. He also put in a lot of time on training for the resumption of his racing career. For a training ride Stan would think nothing of riding to Carlisle and back, (230 miles).
His first event on his return to competitive cycling was the Club Open 25 on the Brock course in April 1949, when he recorded 1.06.32. He was very disappointed with this performance and he vowed that he would pack in racing if he could do no better in his next event. This was also a 25 and he was not to be disappointed again, as his form returned and he recorded 1.01.09, only a minute behind the winner, one of the top men in North Lancashire, Tom Snape, (West Pennine Road Club). This was a remarkable achievement as Stan rode up to Brock on the Saturday, and that night his meal consisted of a meat pie and a bottle of Guinness at The Green Man Inn. As he could not afford accommodation he spent the night under a canal bridge sleeping in his cycling cape!
As the season wore on, his fitness and times continued to improve, and he entered the National Championship 100, which that year was incorporated into the classic Bath Road Hundred.
A National Championship always attracts the top riders in the country, and the 1949 event was no exception. Riding in the event were Bob Maitland, Dicky Bowes and Gordon ‘Tiny’ Thomas, all of whom had been selected to ride in the World Championship Road Race that year, plus the all-conquering Medway Wheelers team of Ken Joy, Pete Beardsmore and Roy Enfield and Alf Derbyshire (Calleva R.C.), who had won the B.B.A.R. in 1946 and 1947. On the day, however, Stan proved to be the best man. His time of 4.20.17, only three minutes outside Competition Record, made him the National Champion, and was the second fastest hundred in the country that year.
In July he won the Club’s Open Twelve Hour with 249.47 miles after running out of pre-measured road. This was a new course and event record. Later in the year, in an attempt to repeat his win in the National 100, he rode in the National Championship Twelve Hour but had to be content with second place with 247.96 miles.
His ability was not confined to the longer distances, as the week after the Club Twelve Hour he recorded 59.26 in the Fylde Road Club 25.
His best times for the season were:
In a very close contest for championship honours in the National B.B.A.R. Competition, he finished in fourth place with an average speed of 22.685 mph, .123 mph behind the winner Ken Joy whose average speed was 22.808 mph and only .002mph behind the 1948 B.B.A.R. Pete Beardsmore. To win the B.B.A.R. Competition Stan needed to record 2.01.59 for 50 miles, well within his capability given the right course on the right day, but instead of riding in 50 mile events to try to achieve that time, he was persuaded to attempt the R.R.A. Liverpool to Edinburgh solo bicycle record held by Harry ‘Shake’ Earnshaw.
He made his attempt on the same day that Baxter and Coleman attacked the tandem record, starting half an hour after the tandem pair. He scheduled to lower the record by three minutes, but the weather conditions were not favourable, with a strong wind blowing from the west. During the early part of the ride he was as much as 11 minutes up on his schedule, however, on the stretch between Carlisle and Moffat, strong winds slowed him down considerably and he fell behind by 19 minutes. He continued towards Edinburgh hoping to pick up some time but, with 4 miles to go and only 9 minutes left, he was forced to abandon the attempt.
In 1950 Stan turned his attention to mountain time trials. He won the Nelson Wheelers Circuit of the Dales (using a Sturmey Archer 4 speed gear) and repeated this success in the Bolton Clarion Mountain Trial on the Belmont course.
That year Stan retired from competition, but before he retired he made another attack on the Liverpool to Edinburgh R.R.A. record. Despite an adverse wind he started from Liverpool at 8.00am on 14th May, but it was a hopeless struggle from the start and it was a bitter disappointment when he had to abandon the attempt at Kendal.
Stan Haslam was undoubtedly the best all-round racing man the Club had produced up to that time.
Stan died in 1992 and his widow, Mrs Cath Haslam, kindly donated a trophy in his name to the Club. This trophy is awarded each year to the club member achieving the highest place in a R.T.T.C. National Championship event. As a mark of the esteem in which Stan was held, Mrs Cath Haslam was made an Honorary Life Member of the Lancashire Road Club.