CTC Northampton in 1923

David, one of our committee members, has been researching the history of Northampton’s cycling clubs.  Here he republishes a 1923 article about the Cyclists’ Touring Club Northamptonshire District Association.  It comes from the Northampton Independent, a weekly newspaper which ran from 1905 to 1960.  It It was written by Mr B Clowes who was based at 5 Castilian Street.  The editor described him as “the assiduous Hon Secretary” of the association.

The Cyclists’ Touring Club popularly known as the C.T.C. was formed as far back as 1878, and in those early days of cycling laid the foundation of those rights and privileges which cyclists enjoy to-day.

Amongst the objects of the Club are the defence of cyclists’ rights, provision of special touring facilities, promotion of legislation for cyclists, publication of road books and maps, scheduling of hotels and refreshment houses (with tariffs), appointment of official repairers, insurance of machines and riders, and the supply of cycling information.

The Club has a paid secretary and office staff located in Euston Road, London. Here there is a reference library and touring bureau, from which members who apply are supplied with routes and the latest information regarding the district in which they propose to tour.  The Club has in various parts of the country local representatives, or consuls, as they are called, who are always ready to assist and advise all cycling and touring members generally.  So far as continental travel is concerned, the Club has reciprocal arrangements with the Continental Touring Clubs.

Amongst other things the Club gives legal assistance to cyclists, issues a very fine illustrated monthly gazette (worth the subscription alone) and publishes an annual handbook.

For fostering local interest amongst members there are a large number of district associations which are in themselves complete social cycling clubs.  The Northants District Association is one of the youngest and is now forging ahead.  It is managed by a local committee, who are at all times willing to give careful consideration to matters appertaining to cycling brought to their notice by members.  Club runs are arranged for Thursdays, Saturdays, and at holiday times tours are arranged.  During the time the Association has been in being, runs have been held to many places of interest in this and neighbouring counties, and many pleasant hours have been spent at joint runs with other Associations. Ladies are eligible for membership, and we have several regular lady riders. We have no hard and fast rules, the runs being “free and easy”, and there is an air of sociability and good fellowship throughout.

There are those who say cycling is hard work, but these are the people, one imagines, who never tried anything but a “dreadnought” and perhaps even then never gave their bicycle a chance to make the acquaintance of an oil can.  With a light machine, kept in proper trim and a reasonably low gear, one can comfortably cover a century a day.  We have met on some of our joint runs members who were doing considerably more.  We are an all-the-year round cycling club.  The bicycle has enabled us to get about this delightful county of ours (which as not so flat as some people think) in all seasons. We have revelled in her Summer and Autumn glory, and we have enjoyed the sombre beauty of her Winter.  We have found one hundred and one beauty spots in this and neighbouring counties, and have drank of their beauty to the full.  We have enjoyed the expansive views of the Cotswolds.  We have meandered along the pretty lanes in the Thame Valley.  We have seen the gorgeous scenery of the Wye, and some of us have ridden to the majestic scenery of North Wales.  We have a host of delightful memories of this country of ours.  All these pleasures and many more are open to the cyclist, and to belong to an organisation such as ours means congenial companionship in addition.  There are numerous beauty spots in and around the outskirts of the town with which a large number of cyclists and other lovers of the open road are totally unfamiliar.

Here, for instance, is an exceptionally enjoyable run quite near at hand of which many of our cycling readers will doubtless avail themselves. Leaving Northampton by the Houghton Road we cross the river at the Paper Mills – where bank note paper was formerly manufactured – and soon pass Great Houghton with its church built in an Italian style.  Proceeding uphill we reach Little Houghton: near the church are the moat and foundations of an ancient mansion of the Louches.  A pleasant run takes us to Brafield-on-the Green, and then to Denton, where there is a tortuous twist round the church.  We now enter the picturesque country of Yardley Chase, the old forest which bounds the county to the southeast.  The village of Yardley Hastings takes its name from the de Hastings, lords of the village in the 13th and 14th centuries.  Edward Lye, the famous scholar, is buried in the Church of St. Andrew, which derived its dedication probably through the connection of the manor with the Royal line of Scotland.  Two miles further on, at Warrington cross roads, we turn to the left and proceed to Bozeat, and from there to the pretty village of Easton Maudit.  The church with its graceful spire should be visited.  Restored by the Marquis of
Northampton in 1860, it contains a number of inscriptions to ancient families.  At Easton Maudit dwelt Thomas Percy, author of the “Relique”, who entertained many famous literary men at the vicarage, including Goldsmith and Johnson.  Dr Johnson spent several weeks here. We now go to Grendon to explore the beauties of Castle Ashby park and village; then return to Northampton through Cogenhoe.

Around picturesque Castle Ashby

Around picturesque Castle Ashby

Another good journey for the cyclist and a pleasant spin for the motorist is to be enjoyed in the Mears Ashby and Earls Barton districts shown on the map.  Leaving by the Billing Road, we pass on the left Abington Rectory, where Sir Douglas Haig used to visit as a boy when his uncle was rector, and soon reach Little Billing.  Here are picturesque cottages, a church with a Saxon front, and the remains of a 14th century Manor House. Billing Bridge – said to have been the scene of a fight in the Civil Wars – is crossed, and a climb takes us to Cogenhoe.  The origin of this name is Gucken, to spy and hoe a hill.  Further on Whiston, a very pretty village, is worth visiting.  At Castle Ashby gates turn to the left and cross the railway line and river. Earls Barton tower is the next landmark.  The “most characteristic piece of Saxon work in the land,” it is 1000 years old.  Cross the Wellingborough Road and proceed through pretty lanes to Mears and Sywell.  In Sywell Woods, Captain Thompson, a Leveller mutineer who broke open Northampton Gaol in 1649 and robbed the public coffers, was rounded up and, after a bitter resistance, killed.  We pass through Overstone and return on Kettering Road.  It is said that from a hill between Overstone and Great Billing forty-five churches can be seen.  The panorama is certainly superb.  Those who desire a pretty walk should take the bus to Ecton, walk across the fields to Cogenhoe, and return by train from Billing station.

Around Mears Ashby and Earls Barton

Around Mears Ashby and Earls Barton

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Ride report – Great Cransley – Sunday 16th February

Phil J went on this ride, led by Milton, and writes (with pictures by Dave):

A misty but fairly warm morning greeted the group of five riders on this rerouted ride.

Taking in a number of familiar roads and one or two less known to us, we headed off through plenty of villages including the picturesque Ecton and Orlingbury further along.

Rowan had an early mechanical but nothing to hold up the steady pace we were making. The route undulated as expected but the group coped admirably.

Traffic levels seemed high in parts but so was the level of cyclists that we regularly passed en route – a positive sign indeed.

The cafe stop at Great Cransley was a welcome sign where Nick joined us from his start in Welford. The small but friendly café at Bugtopia provided enough fuel for us to continue our journey where we were now a group of six.

Entrance to Bugtopia Café

Entrance to Bugtopia Café

Our welcoming host at Bugtopia

Our welcoming host at Bugtopia

The sun finally broke through the clouds and raised the temperature a degree or two as we left the café making the return journey a much better prospect than on the way out. At least for a while. The hills at Loddington that were approaching were mentioned several times by our leader during the morning and they didn’t disappoint as hills go. Coming in quick succession as well.

Iain departed soon after the climbs having put the miles in already with his ride in but not before a superb display of short sharp climbing from the back of the pack right to the front.

Nick took his preferred route back shortly after and the remaining four pressed on towards Old. The anticipated climb at Brixworth didn’t materialise as Milton found a more pleasing route through Scaldwell to soften the blow which was most welcome to all. Another of the group – Rowan – said her goodbyes leaving a trio to carry on with the ride.

We cruised over some of the flatter parts of the route thereafter which was useful in keeping us warm as the sun had disappeared again, dropping the temperatures.

We returned through Ecton and eventually along the familiar cycle paths parallel to the A45. Again the group split with Milton and Dave heading home and just myself returning to the Canoe Centre.

Thanks for the ride Milton! Good riding all!

Ride Report – Saturday 24th January

Milton, our Secretary, went on this ride led by Phil L and writes:

Five of us met at the Brampton Valley Way start point to be taken by Phil L on one of his legendary brisks!  In fact, because we had a nearly new rider with us, we were able to keep the brakes on Phil as we set off on the route round Northampton clockwise through Boughton and Moulton to Overstone and Ecton.  On through Little Houghton and up the hill at Great Houghton and via Quinton and Preston Deanery to coffee at Salcey Forest café.

We had already lost Eleanor before the cafe (Packing for the great Thailand trip perhaps?  Good luck you two!)  Our new rider decided to get a lift back home from there.  We look forward to your company again, Janne!

We three remainders continued off through Horton towards Kislingbury where Phil G left us to go to the bike shop to try out a new bike.  The remaining Phil, L that is, and I parted at Sixfields to our respective homes.

A cold and icy morning had miraculously turned into a sunny and almost warm day with only the slightest breeze.  As good a cycling day as you get. Good weather, a good route and fine company. What more can you ask for?

Brisk local ride – Saturday 26th October

Phil Letts is leading this ride and writes:

We’ll start at 9.30 a.m. where the A5099 crosses the Brampton Valley Way for a brisk ride around the Northampton boundary of about 40 miles. We’ll circle the borough, keeping the Express Lift Tower as our ‘hub’ throughout the ride.  We’ll take in The Bramptons, Kislingbury and Rothersthorpe before pausing at Salcey Forest for an early brunch. Then we’ll complete the circuit through Quinton, The Houghtons, Ecton, Overstone, Moulton and Boughton.
Phil is on 07867 388592 for any questions.

Leisure Ride – Saturday 23rd February

Iain Dawson. our Rides Secretary, will be leading this ride and writes:

This Saturday we will be meeting at Moulton Co-op at 2.00 p.m. for a short leisure ride  down the east side of Northampton.  We will go through Ecton to Beckworth Emporium for afternoon coffee, before returning to Moulton.  There may be a very short walking section.

As usual at this time of year, we will be keeping an eye on the weather.  Although we should be back comfortably before sunset, lights might be an idea if the sun isn’t too bright.

See you in Moulton!

(Iain is on 07909 992468.)

Rides Programme – January to March

Compiled by Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, here is our programme of rides for January, February and March:

Day/Date Time Miles Rating Type Start Route/Destination Stop(s) (if known) Leader/ Organiser
Sun Jan 20 9:30 45 B Club CC Nene and Ouse – From one to the other and back Olney Iain Dawson 07909 992468
Sat Jan 26 13:30 17 D Leisure BVW Guilsborough   Brian Tunbridge 01604 622073
Sat Feb 2 9:30 35 B Club BVW Brisk morning ride via Dodford, Newnham, Litchborough and Kislingbury   Phil Letts 07512 425957
Wed Feb 6 19:30 Rides Planning Meeting FOLLOWED BY Committee Meeting Iain Dawson 07909 992468
Sun Feb 10 9:30 20 D Leisure EH Towcester Cycle-Jumble
Towcester Bill Simpson 07736 600858
Sun Feb 17 9:30 50 D Club BVW Into Leicestershire – just! Saddington (pub) Ian Macsporran 01604 843894
Sat Feb 23 14:00 20 D Leisure MCP Ecton and Earls Barton Beckworth Emporium Iain Dawson 07909 992468
Wed Feb 27 19:30 Social Open to all Park Ave. Methodist Church Illustrated Talks featuring Classic Tour de France Passes, the Giant’s Causeway Sportive and Hamburg to Dresden on the Elbe Cycle Path.Suggested Donation: £3 Iain Dawson 07909 992468
Sun Mar 3 9:30 53 B Club CC Melchbourne Milton Ernest, Wymington Brian Tunbridge 01604 622073
Sat Mar 9 9:30 35 C Club EH Canons Ashby NT Canons Ashby Philip Gray 01604 720522
Sun Mar 17 9:30 50 D Club SIX Farthingstone Farthingstone GC Iain Dawson 07909 992468
Sat Mar 23 14:00 18 D Leisure CC Gayton Gayton Brian Tunbridge 01604 622073
Wed Apr 17 – Tue Apr 23 CTC Northampton visits ADFC Aachen (Germany) – please email if interested. Iain Dawson 07909 992468
We aim to run every ride as advertised above.  Any changes or, exceptionally, cancellations will be advertised on our Yahoo e-mail group, our website and our other social media.  Check for messages or contact the leader a day or two before the ride for any updates!

For insurance purposes, these rides are for CTC members but we welcome non-members on a trial basis for up to three rides.  Special events are open to all.

KEY

RATING
A = Advanced (typically over 60 miles, 14+ mph average riding speed)
B = Challenging (typically 45-60 miles, 12 mph average riding speed, or shorter-and-faster)
C = Moderate (typically 35-45 miles)
D = Leisurely (typically 10-30 miles)
E = Easy/beginners (typically 10-20 miles)

TYPE
Club = steady ride
Tourist = includes historical or other visit
Leisure = short distance, easy pace
NMK = ride run by CTC Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes
National = CTC or other national event
Evening = Evening ride to a social meet
Social = Social meet without a planned ride

START
BVW – Brampton Valley Way, Welford Crossing NN6 8AA
EH – Hunsbury Hill library, Overslade Close, East Hunsbury NN4 0RZ
MCP – Moulton Co-op NN3 7TB
CC – Nene Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road NN4 7AA
Maps are available for start locations here.
We aim to cater for a wide range of rider abilities. On C, D & E rides we will wait for the last rider. On A & B rides, riders are expected to meet the average speeds indicated or be able to make their own way home.

For contact on the ride (e.g. if you miss a turn or have a problem at the back of the group), or need to contact the group at the start of the ride, the following are regular riders’ mobile phone numbers:
Secretary – Brian Tunbridge 01604 622073
Rides Secretary – Iain Dawson 0790 999 2468

Mobile phones must not be relied upon but are there as a secondary means of communication on the ride in the event of a problem.

Riders must be prepared for foreseeable problems such as punctures.

Please contact the rides secretary if you would like to attend the Rides Planning Meeting. You are also welcome to forward any suggestions prior to the meeting.

Ride report – Saturday 7th April

Phil Letts led this ride and writes:

Despite an unpromising grey sky and spats of rain, Philip Gray and I met at the Brampton Valley Way’s Welford Road Crossing (by “The Windhover”)  for this brisk circuit of Northampton.  We were delighted to be joined at the last moment by three new riders: Simon, Graham and Fiona. They had seen the ride advertised in the paper and were attracted by the description as “brisk”.

And brisk it was to with a good steady pace of 15-16 m.p.h. all the way via Kislingbury and Blisworth to Salcey Forest for morning coffee.  Then on via Great Houghton and Ecton to Moulton.  Our new friends departed for their neck of the woods in the Creaton area.

Good to get out and good to ride with some new folks. Let’s hope they come again!