1970 started off brightly with Dave Dewhurst, after a year off his bike, winning three early season road races as well as gaining a number of placings. Phil Asquith was well placed in the National Championship 25, and then showed his versatility by turning to road racing and winning an event in the Isle of Man. John Leach started well with a third place in a road race at Skipton, but, just as he was coming to peak fitness, he was involved in a spill at Fallowfield track. However, he soon recovered and was able to take the Club 50 with a time of 2.03.20. Ken Marsden was the winner of the Club 100 for the sixth time with his 4.33.24, and became Club Champion after a gap of seven years, and thirteen years after his first success in that competition.
The Club’s Open Twelve that year saw the worst conditions ever for the event. Out of 34 entries only 10 completed the 12 hours, totalling only 2141 miles. Peter Greenwood, Nelson Wheelers, won with 232.858, the lowest winning mileage since 1936, and the winning team, (yes, one club managed three finishers), North Lancs. RC, totalled only 660.610 miles, the lowest since 1939 and the fourth lowest ever. The winner of the Club 12 was first time rider R G Morgan, with, in the circumstances, a very creditable 218.555 miles.
Things were, however, not going well. There were very few active members and, after almost 50 years of existence, the Club was facing probably the worst crisis in its history.
Malcolm Evans in the club circular “Cyclone”, dated November 1970, reported:
“At the end of another season, the 47th in the Club’s history, the future of the Club is in the balance. In the past, as wheels have been hung up, and riders have left for various reasons, young up-and-coming riders have been there to take their place in the Club’s history. Now however, the stage has been reached where there are no replacements for the departing members.
Consequently, I would urge all members who can possibly attend, to swell the numbers at the Annual General Meeting. This will be held on Thursday, November 19th at 7.15pm at the Junction Hotel, Lostock Junction.”
The Committee felt that it was necessary to do something urgently as the situation was becoming critical, so Malcolm took the unusual step of sending out his Annual Secretary’s Report to all members before the meeting:
SECRETARY’S REPORT FOR 1970
Throughout the history of a club, its fortunes vary, from the times when its teams and members are triumphant in lifting “pots” on roads far and near, to the times when it is all the club can do to field any sort of team at all.
The L.R.C. has been through these phases and has always come out of the “lows”, with a resilience that has surprised many people, and gone on from strength to strength, putting the L.R.C. name back where it belongs, on individual shields and trophies and also on team shields and trophies.
At the end of this, the 47th season since the inception of the Club, it is probably going through one of the hardest times of its history.
In the past, as riders leave the Club, straying from the sport temporarily or giving up completely, young up-and-coming riders have been waiting eagerly for their chance to carry on where the previous generation of riders left off. However, a stage has been reached in the Club where there are no young ‘Tom Simpsons’, and, as other riders cease to represent the Club, no new names are appearing.
Other clubs have met this problem and some have survived and come out stronger than ever. Some have achieved a solution by means of amalgamation; thus if 3 or 4 clubs join together, instead of ‘poaching’ new riders from each other, the one club benefits from a stronger whole. However some clubs have not survived, they have disbanded with various members joining a number of other local clubs.
This then, is the reason for your getting a Secretary’s Report before the A.G.M, to think of possible solutions and to consider what should be the future of the Lancashire Road Club. Would it help to organise a regular clubroom? Regular club runs? Social activities? All have been tried before and all have failed before – perhaps now is the time to try them again.
Some of the blame for the recent lack of interest has been laid at my door, and while I acknowledge that there have been few circulars this year, let me ask how many of you have ever sent results or offered items of Club interest for inclusion? It is extremely difficult to fill a circular when you have no information, and I would put forward that this lack of interest from the members themselves is partly the cause of the decline of the Club.
After all, what sort of club is it that depends for its very existence on a monthly mag? Would it mean the end of the C.T.C. if ‘Cycle Touring’ stopped coming out? One must realise that the monthly circular was merely intended as a news-sheet of the L.R.C. not to be the backbone of the Club.
So, when you come along on Thursday with your ideas, having carefully mulled over the whole question of the Lancashire Road Club’s future role in the sport, bring with you your nominations for next year’s Secretary.
The A.G.M was held on the appointed date and Pete McVey took over as Honorary Secretary. His first ‘Cyclone’ contained the following:
“I trust you’re all eager to know what happened at the A.G.M. on the 19th November, all except of course the 13 others who attended. Yes – 14 members to make the changes and try and keep the Club in existence!
This was the mood of the meeting. With your last circular Malcolm Evans took the step of sending the Secretary’s Report prior to the meeting, and, if you remember, he pinpointed certain problems that are facing the Club at present.
Once the formalities of the meeting were over, it was obvious that no one could offer any solution to the demise of the Club or to its future role, but one feeling existed that can only be for the good, and that was that the Lancashire Road Club should stay in existence. How this can be done depends on you – the members.
Our President, Cliff Baxter, has offered the use of his home for a general get-together on the first Monday of each month, starting on January 4th, and, as one of the chief complaints in the past has been that there’s been too little contact in the Club, then here’s your opportunity to meet other members and have a chat. Whether you’ve any ideas or not, come along, it can only be for the benefit of the Club, and anyway, the tea’s good!
Jack Roughley considered that the Committee be disbanded as such, due to lack of support, and any decisions could be taken either by the officials or by those attending at Cliff’s if needs be.
The decision to organise the Twelve next year and to drop the road race had already been taken at a previous committee meeting. However, the matter was still discussed, the arguments against the twelve being simply that the falling number of entrants, along with all the work involved in organising the event, didn’t warrant it being continued. On the other hand, the event plays a vital part, not only in the Club, but in the North Lancs. area as well, and is our contribution to cycling in the area. The vast majority of the work falls on Jack Roughley, and, as Jack is prepared to accept the burden again, the Club in general should be grateful.
I don’t think anyone expects to see the twelve continued for the sake of the name of the Club only, and if the time comes for it to be dropped, we should be prepared to accept this but with something to take its place, since once the Club ceases to play any part in promoting events for the benefit of cycling in general, then the Club will probably cease to exist as well”.
That then was the situation at the end of 1970. The attendance of 14 at the A.G.M. must have been the lowest ever, and the new Committee consisted entirely of Club Officers – there were no ordinary committee members. The Lancashire Road Club was not alone in suffering from dwindling membership, it was a problem being experienced all over the country and many clubs went out of existence in the early 1970’s. The slump did not affect only individual clubs, as membership of the Cyclists Touring Club slumped from a high of 53,000 in 1951 to a low point of 18,000 in 1970.
The perennial question of the viabilty of the twelve had once again reared its head, and once again it was decided to continue with its promotion. The Lancashire Road Club Twelve Hour is an institution in North Lancashire, not only as a race, but as a great social occasion, and is recognised as being one of the best events of its kind, if not the best, and it was felt that there should be no question of its continuance.
The meetings at Cliff Baxter’s were beneficial, and at the first one, Dave Leyland took over the position of Road Race Secretary from Club Treasurer Roger Winstanley, who had volunteered to act temporarily in that capacity. As Dave Leyland was prepared to organise a Road Race, the previous decision was reversed and one was to be held later in the year.
Training runs were held and early season results were encouraging. Dave Leyland was placed fifth in the North West Championship Road Race in the same time as the winner, and followed this up with a second place in another local event. Ken Marsden was going well with two fast 25’s and a fast 50.
Of the new members, Frank Loftus started off his first season with a fifth place in the Withington Wheelers 2nd Class 25, and John McGuinness was the winner of the Club 50 in 2.26.25.
Ken Marsden again won the Club 100 in 4.22.40, but only three club members had ridden the event. Throughout the season Ken was placed in almost every event he had ridden and was again the Club Champion. In the twelve-hour the two novices Frank Loftus and John McGuinness, who it was reported, “have been prepared to ride in anything that has come their way“, were the only two club members to finish with 210.918 and 206.325 respectively, and these two were named as joint winners of the Club Novice Award. Dave Leyland’s performances won him the title of Road Race Champion.
A new Club Championship was introduced in 1971, the Club Veterans Championship. The first winner, after many years of loyal membership of the club and many years of trying, was Bill Parkinson. The report on the 1971 A.G.M. stated: “If anyone can remember back to the A.G.M.1970, fourteen members turned up, and those who did thought things couldn’t get much worse”. Well, they did. Only ten could manage to make the trip to Rivington on 17th October. Results in 1971 had turned out to be better than had been anticipated, but the Club was still far from healthy, with only ten members interested enough to attend the most important meeting in the Club calendar.
The Club Dinner, held at Brookfield, Westhoughton, had Reg Harris and Syd Eccles as Guests of Honour, but “…the dinner turned out to be a great success, even if it did prove a little embarrassing to have more visitors than members among the 85 present.”
For the following year it was decided to hold the monthly meetings at different houses instead of at Cliff Baxter’s every time, and this was reasonably successful in bringing members together on a regular basis.
Brian Williams, now the R.R. Secretary, promoted a successful and well-organised road race over three laps of the Holcombe Circuit and, although the weather was far from favourable, the racing was hard and fast and it was voted an excellent promotion.
The 1972 club fifty was won by Brian Williams with a time of 2.10.40 but there were only two entries, the other being John McGuinness who, having ridden out to the event, didn’t do himself justice with 2.45.17. Brian also took the Club 100 and the Road Race Championship, but John McGuinness won the Club 25, and the Club 12 Hour and became the 1972 Club Champion.
Ken Marsden, now a Veteran, won the Club Veterans’ Championship. 1973 was a special year for the Club as it was the 50th Anniversary of its founding. Malcolm Evans, acting as Club Secretary because the current incumbent, Pete McVey, was laid up after having had an accident, wrote: “Since it is our 50th birthday, we hope to make this year something special – in a modest sort of way as befits a Club of our precarious standing. “Precarious standing? What’s he on about”? you’re all saying. Well, it should be obvious to anybody, that to expand the activities of a Club, one either has to put an increased and unfair load on already overworked shoulders, or else one has to expect some help from hitherto under-worked resources…………let us hear your voice helping to decide what to do in our Golden Jubilee year.”
Things were, however, beginning to look a little brighter as eight members entered the opening 25, a much higher figure than for a number of years. This event is never a very popular one and for eight riders to enter was very encouraging. The winner was Malcolm Evans with the comparatively slow time of 1.07.55. Phil Rowley upset Jack Roughley’s handicapping by winning that award by a margin of over four minutes.
The improvement in the number of entries was continued in the Club 50, which was held in conjunction with the Ribble Valley CRC event, when, out of a total entry of 54, nine were LRC members, and this was in spite of some members “still dragging their feet, aren’t they Ken?” The winner was John McGuinness in 2.20.35.
Roland Greenwood was back in competition and, in July, was in contention for the Club Championship with rides of 1.02 and 2.13, but had yet to ride a hundred, John McGuinness was in pole position with 1.02, 2.18, and 4.43 but, with a late run, Malcolm Evans pipped them both with wins in the Club 25 in 1.03.58, the Club Hundred in 4.56.58 and the Club Twelve Hour, in his first attempt at the distance, with 239.016. Roland Greenwood was rewarded with a win in the Club Veterans’ Championship.
The Club Open Twelve Hour was won by Geoff Greenwood, West Pennine R.C, with a course and event record 266.912, a record that was to withstand all assaults until the advent of Gethin Butler in 1993. The West Pennine team of Greenwood, McGann and Brierley also took the event team record. The L.R.C. team of Malcolm Evans, Frank Loftus and John McGuinness was placed second, with a cumulative mileage of 711.194, which would have been good enough for a win in seven out of the previous eight years. Club member Des Pritchard had a bad fall on the greasy road near Pilling during a downpour when going well and on a P.B., and, although he soldiered on for another ten or twelve miles, he was eventually forced to retire because his vision was impaired.
The season had been better than was thought possible. Although times were slower than had been the case in the past, more members had taken part in racing than recently, and this boded well for the future.
To cater for the expected low attendance, the 1973 A.G.M. was held for the first time in a private house – that of Jack Roughley in Westhoughton.
On a brighter note, the 50th Anniversary Club Dinner was a sell out, with over 200 members and guests, by far the best attendance for years, joining the celebrations at Brookfield, Westhoughton. The Guest of Honour presenting the prizes was Geoff Greenwood, West Pennine RC, and also making a contribution in the way of after dinner speeches were Johnny Helms, Harry Aspden, Micky Smith and Frank Cowsill. The event was voted a great success. Club Treasurer, Roger Winstanley, struck a sour note at the end of the year with the announcement that, because of rising costs, Club subscriptions would have to be raised to £1, or £1.50 for a husband and wife “team”! The opening 25 in 1974 attracted only three riders, John McGuinness, Phil Rowley and Roland Greenwood with John’s 1.10.44 taking the honours, but good early-season form was shown by Ken Marsden, Roland Greenwood and Ray Moscrop. Honours in the club events were shared out with the 25 going to Frank Loftus, the 50 to Ken Marsden, the 100 to Phil Rowley and the 12 to Ian Marshall who had recently returned to Bolton after working for 14 years in Scotland. Phil Rowley’s consistent riding was rewarded by a win in the Club Championship.
Club Secretary Malcolm Evans was again bringing his gift of clairvoyancy to bear with the pronouncement, “A welcome to the Club for new member Tony Wilson. Having moved from London he’s started competitive cycling for the first time and recorded a “4” for his first 25. Obviously potential here. Keep training”!!!
Tony, in his first season was down to a 1.02 and was the Club Novice Champion. Des Pritchard set P.B.’s at 25 and 50 miles and Phil Rowley also set a P.B. at 25 miles. Ken Marsden was again in the news with a Club Record fifty-mile time of 1.55.03, and a win in the Club Veterans’ Championship.
The A.G.M. held in October 1974 produced one or two changes, most notable being the announcement by Cliff Baxter that, after 21 years in the post, he was resigning as Club President to make way for new, younger, blood. To honour his many years service to the Club in various capacities, he was elected an Honorary Life Vice President. His position as President went to Jack Roughley. The other change was in the post of Club Secretary, when Ian Marshall was “persuaded” to accept the position. His first bulletin to the members contained the following: “… to assist in physical identification, I’m 5’11” in the second or third flush of youth with blond hair and a fine wind cutting nose apt to get somewhat red on cold winter mornings.” This phenomenon was to be much in evidence in 1975, as it was announced in the Club Circular: “Bill Parkinson has asked me to include details of club runs which will be held each Sunday, commencing on Sunday 5th January 1975. The intention is to have a 9.00 am start with a return to Bolton by approximately 2.30pm. This should appeal to those husbands for whom a longer absence could lead to an encounter with a rolling pin”. These club runs were to become a feature of the Sunday activities of the Club, and many of the participants were ex-members (“Lags”) who once again began to turn their pedals on these easy-paced runs. As their level of fitness grew, many of them were drawn to the competitive side again, some of them to achieve faster times than they achieved when they were younger.
The opening 25 in 1975 was won by Tony Wilson in 1.04.48 and Ian Marshall’s Club Newsletter reported: “No national records admittedly, but it was a windy day – and I also warned you before about Tony Wilson. Frank Loftus seemed to have an energetic weekend. Somehow he fitted in a road race at Cartmel on Saturday, hostelled in Slaidburn on Saturday night, and next morning rode out to the start of the 25 at 8.00 a.m .via the Trough of Bowland. It’s still no excuse for a 1.13 Frank! After the event it was good to see over a dozen L.R.C. members together in the Green Man, forming almost 50% of the clientele.”
The Club, Phoenix-like, was rising again from the ashes, with 14 members racing fairly regularly, which was the highest for a number of years. Ken Marsden made a late season return to the fray, and with Tony Wilson as an adversary some keen competition was envisaged.
With the increase in interest, the Club promoted a number of early season events, an Open 25 on Brock, a Road Race on the Holcombe Circuit, two Saturday afternoon criteriums in Leverhulme Park and a criterium in Queens Park. Two more criteriums were also arranged for later in the year. John McGuinness, the Road Race Secretary was a busy man!
Tony Wilson, in his first full season, was surprising a number of people. In the NLTTA 100, at his first attempt at the distance, he finished in second place in 4.21.32. He was placed in a number of open events and became the Club 25 and 50 Champion. In the National Championship 100 he was timed at 4.25.51, but this would have been much faster had he not taken an almighty packet. His first 25 miles was completed in 58.04 and his last 25 miles in 1.19.00!
The Club Twelve Hour was notable for the fact that at long last, after a gap of 17 years since Gerald Kay won, the Club could fete a winner from its own ranks. Tony Wilson, riding in his first twelve, came out on top with an excellent 251.131 miles, and backed up by Frank Loftus (238) and Ian Marshall (235) the Club also won the team event. Even better was to follow, however, as these three also became the N.L.T.T.A. Team Champions, the Club’s first success in this competition since 1968.
Tony was the runner-up to Martin Smithson (North Lancs. R.C.) in the NLTTA B.A.R. and became the Club Champion with his excellent riding.
The Club Veterans’ Championship was proving to be a happy hunting ground for riders who had had little success in the past but had many years of membership, as Walter Pilkington followed Bill Parkinson and Roland Greenwood to the title.
At the Club Dinner held in November, a presentation of a gold medal was made to Cliff Baxter in recognition of the 50 years service he had given to the Club. Cliff was very moved by the presentation, which had been veiled in secrecy until the actual presentation. Members of the Club had subscribed for the medal.
Another social event was the annual C.T.C. Christmas party at Rivington Barn to which Club members were made very welcome. Many L.R.C. members were also members of the C.T.C. and close co-operation between the clubs was good for both parties. These affairs were very popular and, with Bolton Ramblers holding their annual dinner in conjunction with the event, were very successful.
At the A.G.M. it was noted that, while numbers remained fairly stable, the intake of new young members was still a cause for some concern, but it was pleasing to note that three young men had joined the Club, one of them being David Bennetta, the son of Ernie ‘Bartali’ Bennetta.
Club runs continued to be held every Sunday but they proved to be more popular in winter, as during the summer months many members were involved in the competitive side of the sport.
1976 was an eminently successful one for John McGuinness. He performed well in road races, finishing in eighth place in the Lakeland Divisional Championship, and fourth in a 1st/2nd Category event promoted by the Condor R.C.
These performances contributed to him winning the title of Club Road Race Champion for the fourth consecutive year. He was also successful in winning the Club 50, Club 100 and Club 12 Hour Championships. To end an excellent season of mixed racing he was also well placed in the National Hill Climb Championship on the Nick O’ Pendle. His time trial performances were, however, not enough to gain him the title of Club Champion, as this went again to Ken Marsden, who, like good wine, was improving with age. The young upstart Tony Wilson must have inspired Ken as he improved his Club 50 Record to 1.54.01, set a Personal Best 100 of 4.08, and then covered 229 miles in the Otley C.C. 12 Hour event in extraordinarily bad conditions. To round off his season, Ken won the NLTTA 25 in a fine 58 and Ian Marshall, not to be outdone in the field of clairvoyancy, noted that “Another notable ride was Martin Kerry’s 1.5 – we should be hearing more of him.” Martin won the newly instituted Club Hill Climb Championship and his efforts gained him a share of the Club Novices Award with Neil Haskayne.
Tony Wilson, who had had such a good year in 1975, only competed until mid May but won the Altrincham Ravens Middlemarkers’ 25 with a personal Best 1.02.15 and later improved this to 1.00.54 in the Lancaster C.C. event.
1977 began with the sad news of the death from leukaemia, after a short illness, of the very popular Peter Hodson at the age of 43. Peter was originally a member of the Walkden C.C. and, on the demise of that club, he joined the Lancashire Road Club. He was Club Secretary for a number of years and was also the organising secretary of the Open Twelve Hour on a number of occasions. The sympathies of the members were extended to wife Edna and daughter Kate.
The Club Newsletter for May contained the news of the death of Charlie Monaghan who was a founder member of the Club. He had not been well for some time and had been unable to act as timekeeper in the previous year’s twelve hour. He had acted as timekeeper for many years at the Excel corner and would be greatly missed. The Monaghan Cup is awarded each year the winner of the Club 50 mile Championship.
On a more cheerful note, Jack Roughley had been conducting the Sunday morning club runs of 60 – 80 miles in his beloved Cheshire lanes, with a notable regular on these runs being twelve-hour specialist Harold Robey, Club Champion of the 1950’s.
In the N.L.T.T.A. Combined Clubs 25 on a cold April morning, Tony Wilson was the winner in 1.03.05, Dave Bennetta was in good form with 1.06.58 and Malcolm Blackmore, who had recently rejoined the Club, clocked 1.07.42.
For the Club’s Open 25 in May there was a full field for the first time in a number of years and, even more encouraging, the L.R.C. had no fewer than 20 riders entered. Some of the Road Club riders’ times were: Ken Marsden 59.51, Martin Kerry, 1.02.33, Frank Loftus 1.02.38, Ian Marshall 1.05.20. All these were P.B.’s. Jack’s club runs must have done Harold Robey some good as he recorded 1.4.34 in, this, his first event for 20 years.
Team wins had been scarce in recent years, but Tony, Ken and Harold took the honours in the Cleveleys Road Club 100 and Ken, Tony and Andrew Brown won the team prize in the Seamons CC 50.
It was not only the well established members who were setting standards, however, as the younger members were also showing promise with some very good times, Martin Kerry, Dave Bennetta and Dave Killip had improved their ten mile times to 23.34, 24.07 and 23.43 respectively and had also done personal bests at 25 miles. As John McGuinness had left the Club for pastures new in the Horwich CC, these same three riders had been left to carry the Club colours in road races and had achieved some high places.
In Club events Ken Marsden took the Club 25 and the Club 50 and was again the Club Veterans’ Champion, Tony Wilson won the Club 100 and the Club 12 Hour and Martin Kerry the Club Road Race Championship. Tony, in the first of a hat trick of wins, was the winner of the Club Mountain Trial. The Club Championship was a close run affair between Ken Marsden and Tony Wilson with Ken having the edge at 25 and 50 miles and Tony holding sway at 100 miles and 12 Hours. Tony’s 12 hour mileage of 250.593 gained him second place in the Club Open Twelve and his P.B. 4.19.56 won him the Cleveleys 100. After the close fought battle Ken Marsden came out on top for the second year in succession.
Nineteen members attended the A.G.M. and while this was disappointing, it was a slight improvement on the 10, 14, and 15 of recent years. One bright spot was the willingness of some of the younger members to serve as club officials, with Dave Killip becoming the Road Race Secretary and Martin Kerry the Press Secretary. It was decided that the Club, whilst far from being insolvent, would benefit from an injection of funds, so a raffle was to be organised in conjunction with Orrell Rugby Union Club, and a disco at Westhoughton Cricket Club was to be arranged.
The Club was now going from strength to strength and there was a feeling of great optimism for the future. A disco held at Westhoughton Cricket Club was a huge success both socially and financially, and the view was that more of the same should be organised in the social season. Special thanks were proposed to the ladies who donated the potato pies and to Jack Roughley who arranged for the hire of the Cricket Club’s premises. Club Treasurer Roger Winstanley was pleased with the net profit of £36. This was the first of a number of such events and was an excellent way for members to meet and get to know each other.
New Club racing jerseys were on show in 1978, with the old colours of grey, red and gold being replaced with red and gold vertical panels, a pattern that was to remain for a number of years.
The racing boys were soon in top gear with Tony Wilson taking second place in the Wigan Wheelers 50 and third place in the Club’s Open 25. Dave Killip won the junior award in the Club’s Open 25 with 1.04.39 with Martin Kerry second in 1.04.45. The Club fielded 18 riders in this event including comeback men Jim Hall and Dave Coffey. In the Club’s Open 10, Martin Kerry and Dave Killip were first and second juniors with 23.55 and 24.29. In road races Martin was 2nd and Dave 5th in the 33 miles Bashall Eaves event, and John Killip, Dave’s younger brother, who at 13 years of age had a 27 minute ten-mile time to his credit, was riding well in the Wavertree Schoolboy Criteriums. He was in seventh position in the season’s ratings and had been placed on a number of occasions. These results were good enough to give John the Club Road Race Championship for 1978. Martin Kerry was second in that competition with some good rides, which included a win in the Cockerham Road Race. Dave Bennetta had also performed well with a 72 third place in the North Lancs RC event on the Holcombe Circuit.
The Club’s awesome threesome of Ken Marsden, Tony Wilson and Harold Robey were sweeping all before them on the time trialling scene. Harold, at the age of 48, won the Club’s Open Twelve Hour with a ride of 250.477 miles, Tony was 2nd with 250.320 and Ken 6th with 241.486. In the Cleveleys Road Club 100 Tony was the winner with a P.B. 4.17.02, Ken 2nd in 4.20.19 and Harold 5th in 4.29.37.
In the Fylde Road Club 50 Tony was again the winner in 1.59.24, Ken 4th, in 2.02.36, and Harold 2.08.39. In all these events the Club took the team honours. Ken also won the North Lancs.Veterans 50 in 2.01.16 and Tony the Preston Wheelers 50 in a superb 1.57.57 Not to be outdone, the younger members were also performing well, Mark Astles with a 57 and Martin Kerry with a 58.44 recording Personal Bests for 25 miles.
On the start sheet for the North Lancs Veterans 10 mile event were some familiar names, Harold Robey, Jack Roughley, Dave Coffey, Jim Hall, Stan Dearden, Bill Parkinson and, returning to the scene, Ernie Bennetta. All produced splendid times.
A Club 10 Mile Championship was introduced for 1978 with Martin Kerry the first winner. Tony Wilson took the honours in the Club 25, 50 and 100, John Killip the Club Hill Climb and Mark Astles the Club Novice Award. The Club Champion, completing a hat trick of wins, was Ken Marsden, 21 years after his first win in that competition. For the fourth time he was also the winner of the Club Veterans’ Championship.
Tony Wilson’s performances gained him the title of North Lancs. T.T.A. Best All Rounder for 1978, the first Lancashire Road Club member to win that competition since Stan Mills in 1966. Tony finished in 39th position in the B.B.A.R. Competition with rides of 1-56.30 (P.B.), 4.14.31 (P.B.) and 250.320 miles. The “first team” of Wilson, Marsden and Robey were the N.L.T.T.A. Team Champions.
“The Lags”, after a number of years wandering round the area visiting different hostelries, had decided that their nomadic days were over and, after a number of visits there, had settled on Egerton Cricket Club as their “Club Room”. The beer was good – and cheaper, and there was plenty of room to sit and chat, unlike some of the other establishments they had visited. Thus the Club’s relationship with Egerton was established and it has, to date, been a long and happy one, beneficial to both parties.
Another welcome addition to the facilities for club members was the invitation from the C.T.C. to join them on their club nights at Bolton Motor Cycle Club’s room at Nutt Street, Bolton. These club nights were held on the first and third Thursdays of each month and darts and table tennis etc. were laid on.
The Club 10 in 1979 was run in a raging blizzard and the following day for the N.L.T.T.A. 25 “…there had been a remarkable overnight improvement in the weather; the snow had given way to just sleet.” In this event, Frank Kerry, no doubt spurred on by the deeds of son Martin, had again made his mark, his 1.06.15 earning him second place behind Tony Wilson, whose time of 1.00.11 was remarkable in the circumstances. In third place was Club President Jack Roughley in 1.06.57. The following week in the Club’s Open 25, Frank improved to 1.05.44 with the two fastest Club members Ken Marsden 1.00.00 and Tony Wilson 1.00.50.
1979 followed the pattern of 1978 to a great extent with Tony Wilson, Ken Marsden and Harold Robey taking the honours in the club events.
Tony won the 25 and 100, the latter in the excellent P.B. 4.14.25, Ken the 50 and Harold the Twelve Hour. The young Mark Astles was the winner of the Club 10 and Martin Kerry took the Hill Climb.
Tony Wilson replaced Ken Marsden as the Club Champion and Harold Robey won the first of his four Veterans Championships. Dave Bennetta’s performances won him the title of Road Race Champion.
In the Club Open Twelve Hour Harold Robey finished in 4th place with 243.4 miles and again he led a winning L.R.C. team to first place. Not this time the trio of Robey, Wilson and Marsden, as Tony Wilson had unfortunately crashed and had to retire, but it was the turn of Roger Winstanley and Frank Loftus to complete the team, taking the title by the narrow margin of 220 yards from the West Pennine boys.
That event saw the come-back of Jim Hall who finished with a respectable 216 miles and, as Club Secretary Ian Marshall reported: “Also putting in a cameo appearance was Keith Tattersall who, unfortunately, was desalinated at around 140 miles.
Not content with coming off in the 12, young Tony had to do an encore the following week. Competing in the South Lancs. Road Club 100, Tony and stoker Roger Winstanley had their tandem really moving when they were cut up by a lady motorist in a most unladylike fashion. It was a bit hairy I understand, but they are O.K. now. Indeed, Tony stole the headlines next week by managing to stay upright long enough to beat Mike Gadd and win the Cleveleys Road Club 30 in 1.11.31.
Ken Marsden has also been in the wars. Using his cape as a novel front wheel brake proved too effective and propelled the unfortunate Ken head first into a brick wall. Such are the perils of innovation Happily Ken is now restored to good health and Wimpeys have rebuilt the wall. To complete this catalogue of woe, I’ve just heard that Martin Kerry’s front tub blew out in a 25 just after he’d caught dad – Flying Frank. Martin too had an encounter with the deck, but his cuts and bruises are now on the mend. In the Horwich C.C.’s 50 it was Jack Roughley’s turn to bite the dust, but “I’m happy to report that the paintwork of his Raleigh Team Bike is unscratched, (!!!) although Jack’s in a hell of a state.”
Away from racing, Ian Marshall had undertaken a sponsored ride vsiting 10 of the establishments belonging to the UK Atomic Energy Authority, for whom he worked, covering 1500 miles in 11 days. His excellent efforts raised £3628 for charities including the Pat Seed Scanner Appeal.
At the A.G.M. concern was again voiced about the failure to attract young members. Although the overall membership was stable, and there had been a welcome return to active cycling by some on the older stalwarts, it was felt that the failure to attract the youngsters needed to be addressed. Some suggestions were forthcoming; a greater level of contact with the C.T.C., evening time trials and some form of sponsorship were three possible moves.
One way to attract new members is to have regular Sunday club runs, and Ian Marshall wrote in the Club circular, “A fairly elementary function of the club should be regular club runs. At the present my understanding is that we have a group of members who meet each Sunday to the North of Bolton for a run, and that shortly there will be official winter club runs starting from the White Horse, Westhoughton. Can’t we sort this out so that we have one really viable club run starting at an agreed time each Sunday with a limited rota of starting points around the town? Some people would come out for half a day, others for a full day. Who cares?,If we sorted this out we’d have a proper club run and that would be a great start in itself.”
The question of sponsorship was referred to the committee but, apart from event sponsorship, no sponsors have been attracted to the Club. In the late ’70’s Walter Pilkington Cycles, Bury, in the ’80’s M.K. Cycles, Tonge Moor Road, Bolton, and in the ’90’s Geoff Smith Cycles, St Helens Road, Bolton, have all been very generous sponsors of the Club’s Open events.
The decade, which had begun with the Club at its nadir, ended with a feeling of well-being and optimism which had been hard to envisage only a few years previously. This renaissance was due in no small way to the dedicated members who remained loyal, and battled hard and long, to put the Club back to where it belonged.
The husband and wife team of Ken and Shirley Marsden must rank among the greats of the Lancashire Road Club.
Ken joined the Club in 1954 from Manchester Wheelers, mainly as a result of taking part in training runs with Frank Kerry. He won the first of his many Club events in 1957, taking the Club 50 in 2.07.32 and the Club 12 Hour with 246.375 miles, these rides being good enough to gain him his first Club Championship. His record of wins in Club Competitions is second to none, 3 Club 25’s, 9 Club 50’s, 7 Club 100’s, 2 Club 12 Hours and 2 Club Mountain Trials. In addition to these wins in individual events, he was the Club Time Trial Champion on no fewer than 9 occasions, and was the winner of the Club Veterans’ Championship 5 times. His consistency would be difficult to better, the times he recorded in his three wins in the 25 were 1.00.43, 1.00.51 and 1.00.59, but his winning times in the Club 50’s were even more remarkable, 2.03.29, 2.05.23, 2.05.23, 2.05.33, 2.06.53, 2.07.32, 2.07.56, 2.08.00 and 2.08.06. The first of his wins in this event was in 1957 and the last in 1980, a time span of 24 years. But what about the times he recorded over a period of 12 years, in winning his seven Club hundreds? 4.22.40, 4.24.37, 4.25.17, 4.25.30, 4.28.25, 4.32.12 and 4.33.24. A remarkable record.
He set Club Records at 50 miles and 100 miles on a number of occasions, was a member of the winning L.R.C. team in the Club’s Open Twelve Hour three times and was in the Club’s N.L.T.T.A. Championship Team six times. In addition to his racing exploits he also served on the Club Committee and was the Club Treasurer for a number of years.
Shirley was one of the top lady riders in England between 1958 and 1962. Her Club Records of 26.34, 1.05.21, 2.14.58, 4.42.54 and 240.942 miles withstood all assaults until Auriel Bu’lock became a member of the Club for a year in 1983 and set new standards. Shirley’s Twelve Hour Record, however, still stands. Her career was crowned in 1962 when she was selected for Great Britain in the World Championship Road Race in Milan, supporting the star of the G.B. team, Beryl Burton.
In July 1979 came the sad news of the death of Ed Green. Ed was a larger than life character who was known, loved and respected by everyone in the sport.
He was a tricyclist of renown and was President of the Tricycle Association. He could be regularly seen out on his trusty steed in all weathers, touring, racing and helping at events. He was a R.R.A. record-breaker in 1953 when he took 42 minutes off the York to Edinburgh Tricycle Record and he still holds Lancashire Road Club Tricycle Records for 100 miles (5.14.48), 12 Hours (214.400 miles) and 24 Hours (366.125 miles).
Club Secretary Malcolm Evans reported in December 1967: “I’m in time to tell you about the N.L.T.T.A. Dinner and Prize Presentation which proved well worth going to, even if everything DID stop for 10 minutes when Ed Green came (came? erupted would be a better word to use!) into the room a bit late.”
That was Ed Green. His kind come but once in a lifetime and he would be greatly missed by everybody who knew him. Condolences were extended to his wife Mollie.
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