Friday 12 November 2010

Manchester Clarion Cycling Club

Manchester Labour Clarion Cycling Club rode out again on Sunday5th September 2010, starting at Alexandra Park, Manchester setting off for Quarry Bank Mill, Styal Robert Blatchford's home when he founded the Clarion was at 6 Spring Bridge Road, Whalley Range next to Alexandra Park. The house were he lived when he first moved to Manchester no longer exists - 154 Princess Road. Thanks To Lawrence Beedle for photos

The Manchester Clarion Cycling Club is formed

Swiftsure’s ‘Cycling Notes’ Clarion Newspaper

26th January 1895

Hurrah for the Clarion Cycling Clubs! At last one of them has been formed in Manchester (Labour Church Insistute, 3 st John's Parade Deansgate, Wednesday 16th January 1895). In response to my invitations, twenty-five Clarionette ‘pedal-pushers’ came to the scratch and hey, presto! the ‘Clarion Cycling Club. Manchester District’ is an accomplished fact.

This number will doubtless be more than doubled be

fore the season commences; and if the enthusiasm manifested at the inaugural meeting goes for anything, the club will have a long and successful career, and no cycling Clarionette in the district should be outside it.

After the preliminary work of formation it was resolved by a majority of three to do without a president (Will the chief please note? Blatchford)*

The officers elected for the year were

Secretary – Mr R Dawson, 697 Rochdale Road, Manchester, and Mr C Ellinger, 53 Palmerston Street, Moss Side, Manchester.

Both are well-known amongst Clarionettes and are enthusiastic cyclists. Anyone wishing to join can do so by sending their name and address to the secretary.

A small committee was formed for the pu

rpose of drawing up the necessary rules which will be submitted t another meeting to be held at the Labour Church Institute, Sunday, February 10th at 3 p m


Anyone wishful of joining them are invited

The subscription fee was fixed at 2s & 6d per annum. Ladies, free. The members are anxious to attract lady cyclists, and two or three have already joined. There are not many cycling clubs which include members of both sexes, and thi

s way I hope the Clarion Cycling Clubs will make it an unique feature of their organisation.

It was also decided to adopt the Clarion badge made by on

e of our Birmingham friends, and mentioned in the Clarion some time back. Perhaps the maker wouldn’t mind giving the secretary of the new club some information on the point and also send a drawing of the design along with the price.

So that is all for the present about the Clarion Cycling Club Manchester District.

I am now waiting to see which will be the next town

to organise one. What say my cycling readers in Halifax, Burnley, Leeds, Hyde, Stalybridge, Bolton, Rochdale, etc, etc?

Surely, there must be enough unattached ** cyclists in some of those towns to start a club? My opinion is no cyclist should be outside a club, because the benefits can be made very real in it is only worked on up-to- date lines


* A few weeks before, in November 1894 Robert Blatc

hford (= ‘the chief’) had, in response to readers’ queries on how he thought the ILP should be run, said that such posts as

president and vice-president should have no place in a democratic organisation. This began what Keir Hardie, president of the ILP until 1896 when the title was changed to chairman, described in Labour Leader his rival paper to the Clarion, as ‘ a sort of craze’ for dispensing with such offices.

The initial Manchester Clarion Cycling cl
ub meeting was held at the Labour Church Institute, 3 St John's Parade, Deansgate, Manchester on Wedne

sday evening next, the 16th January 1895, at 8 p m.

** Swiftsure means cyclists not belonging to a cycling club of course.This is interesting in that a little later in the 1890s the Clarion made much of the supposedly large number of ‘unattached socialists’ who were put off from joining either the Social D

emocratic Federation (SDF) and Independent Labour Party (ILP) because of the rivalry between the two organisations. Blatchford advocated joining both and working for unity.

Transcribed by Ian Bullock - Brighton Clarion Cycling Club

Later the Clarion's would play a key role in the formation of th

e British Socialis

t Party in 1911.

For more on both these see Logie Barrow and Ian Bullock Democratic Ideas and the British Labour Movement, 1880- 1914.

Photo above Clarion Cycling Club National Committee 1909-1910 at what looks like Handforth Clarion Clubhouse

See earlier posts on Manchester Clario
n Cycling Club and M
anchester Clarion cafe

See also post on Clarion Cafe Market Street

Manchester Clarion Cycling Club 1895

Manchester Clarion Cycling Club

Clarion 12th January 1895.

I desire to call to the attention of Manchester and District Cycling 'Clarionettes' to the advertisement on page 4 calling a meeting for all who are interested in joining a strong Clarion Cycling Club in Manchester.

The meeting will be held at the Labour Church Institute, 3 St John's Parade, Deansgate, Manchester on Wednesday evening next, the 16th January 1895, at 8 p m.

Ladies are especially invited; and political differences will be no bar to membership, providing they are only readers and believers in the Clarion and its good work.

En avant! Mes Camarades
, come join the Clarion cre

Harry Pollitt and the Clarion's

One of Harry Pollitt's early comrades was Charlie Openshaw. He was an Engineer and literature secretary a

t the Openshaw Socialist Society (established in 1906) and later a founding member of the Communist Party in 1920.

Charlie Openshaw states:

"We were in the Clarion Cycling Club together. Off we'd go on our bikes into the country. We'd put up fly posters round about, choose a spot, and hold a meeting. We didn't always get many listening, but by God, we enjoyed it."

Harry Pollit himself recalls the summer of 1912-13 on Clarion speaking tours.

Meeting at the Openshaw Socialist Hall they cycled into the countryside spreading the word of socialism – when they meet fellow Clarion cyclists they would greet them a chorus of "Boots", the answer was"Spurs" –

They went into villages of Cheshire and at a suitable spot would dismount from their bicycles and led by Harry Fisher or Jim Crossley would sing:

In Youth as I lay dreaming, I saw a country fair,
Where plenty shed its blessings round and all had equal share.

Where poverty's sad features were never, never seen
And idlers in brotherhood would meet with scant esteem.

The unaccustomed sound of singing brought people to stand around and Harry would then make a ten minute speech, they would wind up the meeting by by singing "England Arise". Returning in the evening they repeated the performance in another village.

A favourite destination for the Clarion cyclists was Handforth Clarion Club House opened in September 1903.

Manchester Clarion Cycling Club had been established on Wednesday 16th January 1895 with its Secretary being Mr R. Dawson, 697 Rochdale Road, Manchester, and Mr C. Ellinger, 53 Palmerston Street, Moss Side, Manchester.

Harry Pollitt states:

"I have heard a lot of scoffing at (Clarion) fellowship" ... "but in this club it was reality which made hard, poverty stricken lives much brighter." Harry Pollitt even attended the Clarion's famous Easter meet in York (March 1913) with one thousand Clarion cyclists, Harry on the Sunday speaking to a huge audience from a Clarion van.

The Openshaw Socialist Society meet at the Openshaw Socialist Hall, Margaret Street off the Ashton old road opposite the Alhambra.

Its construction by voluntary labour began in March 1907 and it was officially opened on July 20th by John Hodge MP (Smelters Union).

At the opening three inscribed stones were laid at ground level, that of the Openshaw Socialist Society to the singing of

"England arise", that of the Clarion cyclists to the "Red flag", that of the Clarion vocal union (Choir) to the "Comrades' song of hope".

The Openshaw Socialist Hall was rectangular, the long side facing on Margaret Street, the elevation pleasant and dignified, presenting a series of arched windows and a handsome doorway on the right topped by a stone inscribed "Socialist Hall 1907".

The visitors entered a vestibule from which rooms opening on each side ended in a double stair leading to the big hall on the floor above. It could seat 400 and had an excellent parquet floor for dancing. Between the two entrances was a low platform, above a gallery ran the whole width of the building, on the opposite wall was a large painting by Walter Crane, with scrolls bearing the words "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman". The tall windows and high angled roof gave an exhilarating impression of light, space and elegance, the ample basement contained more rooms.

Charlie Openshaw along with the young Harry Pollitt polished the parquet floor of the Hall every Sunday morning.

Michael Walker


Daily Worker 11 July 1960
Harry Pollitt Kevin Morgan
Harry Pollitt John Mahon

The Pankhurst Family were also keen Clarion Cyclists