Welcome to Bolton Clarion



Bolton Clarion





The Boys Return to Belgium









Bolton Clarion Members:


2016 is our 120th year and we want you to make the most of it. Any ideas please let the team know and just make it happen.




Upcoming Club Meetings




All Welcome

Any ideas for the meetings let Tony or Mike know so we can plan





Bolton Clarion Save the day


Whilst out on a ride the lads came across Karen with a puncture who was unable to sort so the knights in shining armour saved the day. Here is the big thanks you from Karen.


Subject: Puncture repair at Sawley
Sent: 8 Aug 2015 08:26
From: Karen Fraser
To: Mike Singleton and the Bolton Clarion

I just wanted to say a big thank you to the guys who helped to repair a puncture at Sawley.  It was very much appreciated  because otherwise I would have had a very long walk back to Clitheroe. Lots of drivers had passed without offering any help, but all credit to your club members who stopped to help. Thank-you again. Karen






Bolton Clarion Competitive Stuff

After somehow finding myself as Racing Secretary following this year’s AGM I decided to try and encourage and convince more of the club members to pin a number on their back and have a go at taking part in some of the competitive stuff. The plan was to keep the current club competitions, the 10 & 25 mile time trials and hill climb, and reintroduce the 50 mile TT for good measure along with a season long Vets time trial competition using the Thursday night Southport club 10 at Tarleton. Along with the club competitions the hope was also to encourage everyone to have a go at any other form of racing, be it road racing, crit racing, cyclocross, MTB or anything else that might take their fancy.
So how’s the year gone so far?


The season got off to a promising start in February at the Midwinter Madness “Hurt at the Haigh” event at Haigh Hall. The combined MTB / Cyclocross 2hr endurance race saw a fine turnout from club with Dave Bisset, Dave Physick, Gary Thompson, Nick Hockenhull and myself braving the winter conditions to take on a tough mixed terrain course around the grounds of the hall. Mud, trees, tree roots, ‘bomb holes’, single track, drop offs, stream crossings, fast descents and steep climbs were no match for the men of the Clarion and turned out to be the perfect way to spend a morning particularly when rounded off with hot hog roast butties!
April saw six Clarion riders turning out for the Club 10TT at the NLTTA open event at Garstang:

  1. Dave Owen

  2. Nick Hockenhull

  3. Ian Humphreys

  4. Mark Ainsworth

  5. William Cocker

  6. Tony Bowles


Despite tough windy conditions the guys put in some great performances with the ‘Evergreen’ Tony Bowles and Nick Hockenhull both taking significant chunks off their standard times, Ian Humphreys putting in a fine debut and Mark Ainsworth and William Cocker showing fine form.

April also saw the start of the Tameside Circuit Race series on the purpose built race circuit at Ashton Under Lyne. Following the last winter’s first foray in cyclocross racing and Fred Smith’s inspirational presentation back in January I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a full British Cycling racing and give the road racing & criterium racing lark a go. So far, it’s three races down, one crash, a dose of road rash and a scary evening hurling myself around the track in the rain; but I’m finding my feet in the bunch and it turns out I can sprint a bit and I’m actually a pretty strong rider. The regular 4th Cat races have also been a good chance to get to know a few riders the Bury and Saddleworth Clarion sections and Manchester Wheelers which comes in handy when you need a friend in the bunch to share the work, although it would be better if there was another BCCC jersey out there!

So it’s now full steam ahead to try and accumulate some ranking points.

The other new competition we’ve got running is the season long Vets 10TT Competition. Starting back in April and running through to the September this competition is open to all the club riders over 40, I can’t take part until next year, and is based around the Southport CC club 10 held each Thursday at Tarleton. As a handicap competition, the winner will be the rider who can beat their ‘Standard Time’ by the largest margin based upon the aggregate of their two best rides at Tarleton, with bonus time being awarded for taking part in the club events and the total number of rides completed………….simples!!!!!!!!
To date Tony Bowles is the man to beat, with William Cocker not far behind and Nick Hockenhull posting the fastest time but still needing another ride to qualify.
Come give it a go, it’s a friendly event and all you’ve got to do is your best, what could be easier?

Well that’s the story so far for my first season as Race Secretary, it would be great to see some more riders from the club giving something competitive a try, particularly the TT’s as they’re a really easy thing to have a go at and very friendly events. Judging by recent ride reports we have some untapped talent that could really challenge for some of the club silverware, so don’t be shy!








    A Rides on Sundays - Jun to Sep 16 - Runs List  here  


    B Rides on Wed & Sundays - Jun to Sep 16 - Runs List  here



Saturday Rides continue on 2nd Sat of month

see Facebook page for updates and details








New Summer 2016 Newsletter - here




Spring 2016 Newsletter - here


Winter 2015 Newsletter - here


Autumn 2015 Newsletter - here


Summer 2015 Newsletter - here


Spring 2015 Newsletter - here


Winter 2014 Newsletter - here


Autumn 2014 Newsletter - here


Summer 2014 Newsletter - here


Spring 2014 Newsletter - here


Winter 2013 Newsletter - here


Autumn 2013 Newsletter - here




Bolton Clarion at the Tour de France 2014

TDF Yorkshire













BCCC Team Spirit flying the Flanders 2014 Sportive

Another yearly adventure in Belgium by the Clarion Team


click photo to enlarge



Spain 2014 – Mike Singleton

One tough trip!

click photo to enlarge




Charlie Westlake and Bolton Clarion – Anthony Bowles.

It was in the early nineties and the Medium paced ride met on the town hall square for a ride to Knott End. While exchanging chit chat before setting off a group of unfamiliar guys turned up, but the clarion leader recognised Charlie Westlake among them, it was the Bury CTC section. ‘ The Long Distance ride have just left Charlie’ said the leader, a smile was the response, a man of few words was Charlie. They dismounted and made it clear they were intent on joining us to Knott End. ‘we’re only a slow group Charlie, not up to your pace’, again a slow smile, ‘not to worry, we’ll just tag along at the back’.
And so they did, all the way to KnottEnd, and after the Ferry ride over to Fleetwood.
There was a strange event as we neared Elswick, one of the young lads from Bury, Chris Peatfield, (Chris in later years married Bolton member Katy Prescott) seemed to have got the bonk, he slipped off down to Bonds cafe for and ice cream as we waited patiently at the end of the road.
It was summer and a nice day so it was no big deal really, so it seemed but then the minutes dragged on and no sign of Chris, other Bury lads went to look for him, they too seemed to be long gone. Perhaps a mechanical or puncture? I set off to investigate but just as I did the missing riders appeared, appeared to be well refreshed also, it turned out the ice cream had followed a meal.
Off again and the young man began to get a bit sprightly, he certainly had recovered well, so much so he was hard to contain.
Once through Preston and on the well trodden A6, the pace began to lift and slowly the group began to break apart as Charlie and his henchmen ended the truce, obviously now out of the country lanes and back on main roads we were no longer of use.
A few of us though refused to surrender and took up the challenge as Charlie marshalled his men at the front. Charlie eventually had to take to the front himself as we doggedly refused to surrender, Bamber Bridge, Whittle le Woods, Chorley, Adlington and Horwich, where a frantic sprint for the boundary took place.
The sprint at Horwich seemed to bring about a truce and the pace returned to a sociable one back down to Bolton. As ever Charlie didn’t speak while riding, just pushed the pedals like a metronome, mile after mile after mile, hence his reputation for tough hard rides, rides like that yearly one he did to the centre of Humber Bridge and back in the day, they did have an early start though. Charlie never did turn up at another Bolton clarion ride, he may have forgotten us but certainly did not forget the return from Knott End.




A Beacon would burn on Halliwell Dean by Albert Winstanley

"ALLO…ALLO…ALLO…AND WHAT’S ALL THIS ‘ERE THEN?" Though these may not have been the actual words, there was no mistaking the "fierce greeting" in the policeman’s voice, as he stopped me with the palm of his hand a few inches from my face, at the Knowsley Street and St. George’s Road junction, where he was on point duty.

I stopped with both legs straddled over the crossbar of my ancient ‘dreadnought’ bike, with its 28 x 1¾ wheels, ‘sit up and beg’ handlebars and roller brakes. I was only 14, on my first ever bike, and trembling with fright. I awaited his next question, "and now young man, where’s your light?"

I looked down to my oil lamp below the handlebars, and now thoroughly scared, saw it was out.

"Please Sir," I replied, "It must have blown out in the wind." There was disbelief in his voice as he said "Well, let’s see then." He opened the lamp glass, poked a finger inside and withdrew it immediately with an "Ouch" as the still hot lamp burnt him. I had to stifle a smile as he said. "I believe you this time, but light it straight away, and never let me catch you again without a light".

He watched as I produced a match to light the wick, which immediately burned merrily, and with relief I pedalled away, the warning still ringing in my ears.Such little episodes were common in my first cycling days (1930 onwards) and woe betide the cyclist caught without a light during darkness. It would result in a summons and an appearance at court, and a fine of usually 5/- plus the disgrace of your offence being mentioned in the Bolton Evening News.

How times have changed, with a blind eye turned to scores of cyclists who ride without lights and riding on the pavement (also then an offence carrying a summons and a fine).

There came 1932 and the purchase of my first ever new bicycle, and the beginning of a love affair with cycling, which is still as strong as ever in these advancing veteran years of mine. At that time too, I bought the weekly magazine "CYCLING" (price 2d), and most weeks there was a delightful sketch by the ‘King’ of cycling artists. His name was Patterson, and his sketches portrayed to perfection, the joys and delights of the countryside of England. Keen touring cyclists eagerly looked forward to the magic of his pen, luring them to follow his wheels to the scenes of beauty he depicted.

Even today…his sketches are sought after items, and I treasure the two originals that I have and which were presented to me many years ago.

Now there was a week, shortly after acquiring my new bike, that a sketch appeared showing a lonely moorland road in gathering darkness. Two cyclists are seen lighting their lamps their readiness for their night ride, and its caption was "LIGHTING UP TIME". How I drooled over that sketch, looking at it time and time again. It did something to me, and in mind’s eye I could picture myself taking part in the little scene. The curving moorland Patterson had depicted was similar to the moorland on the road over Hordern Stoops leading from Belmont to Rivington; and I knew I would not be content until I too, like the cyclists depicted, would stop and light my lamp just as they had.

In those early years of the 1930′s, times were bad. We had little money, and cycle oil lamps were the cheapest means of lighting. Though the first battery lamps were around, the favourite cycle lamps were acetylene or carbide. I vowed I had to have one, and weeks and weeks of saving from my pocket money eventually rewarded me with one, the price was 6/6d (33p), and it would be goodbye to my old oil lamp that had resulted in the burnt finger of the policeman. I can laugh at the episode now.

Now I could re-enact the "Lighting Up Time" scene Patterson had so admirably portrayed. It was mid autumn, and one evening as I arrived home from work, I vowed that this would be the night I would achieve my little ambition. I recall it was not quite dusk, as I wheeled my bike from its shed in Back America Row and pedalled up Halliwell Road, dipping down to Smithills Dean. How well my acetylene lamp looked on its bracket below the handlebars and I was as happy as the proverbial king. I began the slow ride up Smithills Dean (I could ride it then). I thrilled to the turning at the top of the Dean to Scout Road, passing the Bryan Hey Reservoir, and then the lovely swoop down to Belmont Road.This was the cycling life I loved, very little traffic then, the scents of autumn around, the bike running sweetly and with not a care in my early teenage years. I swept down to the stone setts of the hill to Belmont village, and then I turned by the Black Dog Inn, and the moorland road to Hordern Stoops and Rivington was before me.

The autumn dusk was now cloaking the moorlands and the road was absolutely deserted. Passing the ‘Blue Lagoon’ reservoir, I began to walk, and nearing the summit I decided that this would be the spot of my "Lighting Up Time" Patterson had depicted. I opened the glass of the lamp, and turned the water valve on that controlled the drops to change the carbide to gas. I sniffed at the burner to see if the gas was coming through, and lighting a match there was a plop as the gas ignited to flood the road with a lovely broad beam of light.

I was the happiest of cycling boys, a lovely acetylene cycle lamp, the contours of the curving moorlands all around silhouetted against the autumn sky, and it was all mine.I gave a silent "Thank You" to Patterson and then I was sweeping down to Rivington and relishing every moment of my ride through Horwich and the climb to my homeward road.

I passed the Blundell Arms and loved the freewheel down to Bob’s Smithy, my lamp beaming the road so lovely. Indeed, instead of going back to Halliwell via Doffocker and New Church Road, I turned at Bob’s Smithy towards Walker Fold. This was a night to be savoured, and I was determined to live it to the full.

Thrilling was the swoop down Walker Fold to Colliers Row and not a soul around to see my exuberance and joy of my cycle acetylene lamp. At the junction of Halliwell Dean and Scout Road, I sat down fur a few minutes, the bike by my side resting on the seat, the beam from the lamp so lovely, as I realised that the "magic" of this ride would soon be ending when I would reach Halliwell Road.Now, there may be several of my readers unfamiliar how a cycle acetylene lamp worked. There was the upper body which contained water, under that was the light chamber with a burner and a pipe linked to the lower chamber which contained the carbide. A control valve on top enabled drops of water to drip onto the carbide to produce acetylene gas which when lighted gave a lovely beam reflected by the lamp reflector itself.

After resting on the fingerpost seat, I began the descent of Halliwell Dean which, in those days, was paved with large "setts" for horse traffic. Down, down, and down I freewheeled, the bike bouncing over the rough surface. Now I have mentioned the burner of the lamp of which there were two types, a ‘screw in’ one and a ‘push in’ one. Mine was the ‘push in’ type. Speeding swiftly as I was and due to the vibration, there came a decided "plop" as the burner had jumped out of its pipe, and immediately the front of the bike and lamp was enveloped in flames, as burning gas was pouring out of it.

This was the night a "Beacon would burn on Halliwell Dean". I hurriedly dismounted, in disbelief at it all. The glass shattered and the autumn evening breeze fanned the flames alarmingly. No amount of blowing would quell the blaze and I took off my cap to try to push it into the lamp to douse the display. Frantically I managed to take the lamp from its bracket and throw it onto the road. I was almost in tears, as I looked at it, so sorrowful and shattered. My lovely lamp and all those weeks of saving for it, as for Patterson, I was saying some unkind words about him.

Disconsolate I continued homewards, riding without light, and ready to dismount if any policeman should appear. It was the saddest of boys who reached home that night, knowing the events of the evening would always be with me.

These days, as ‘lighting up’ time approaches, I switch on the dynamo, which with a gentle purr lights the road magnificently. Modern "halogen" bulbs in the lamps perform perfectly, and I also have a "back up" rear light with three ‘L. E. .D. s’, (Light Emitting Diodes). It is all high tech. I have a handlebar computer, ‘indexed’ gears and the most efficient of brakes. It is all a far cry from those early days. But! I still have a soft spot for the acetylene lighting of old. It recaptures nostalgia for those golden days of cycling, when life was at a much leisurely pace and the wonderful friendship and comradeship of the open road prevailed. Besides, I still love Patterson and the collection of his sketches recalling it all.




A Few Photo's from the Bolton Clarion in the late 1890's


click photo to enlarge


Bolton News Article from 10th March 2004


BOLTON Clarion Cycling Club was a successful organisation long before the current obsession with health and fitness. It celebrated its centenary in 1995 and is still going strong. Mr Harry Speak of Bury New Road, Bolton popped into the office recently with this picture from either 1948, 1949 or 1950 - he is not quite sure which. He does know that he is on the right in the fetching shorts and that they were pictured outside Bolton town hall on the day they had an enjoyable ride to Cheshire. The National Clarion Cycling Club goes back to the days when the unstable Penny Farthing was replaced by the triangular "safety cycle." Mr Robert Blatchford, a leading Socialist activist, journalist and publisher, called in his weekly newspaper, "The Clarion", for working people to make the most of the new opportunity to explore countryside - previously the province of the rich - and spread the Socialist message of fellowship. As well as cycling there were social clubs, rambling clubs, handicraft groups and even choirs. The Bolton club was kept ticking over by older members until the 1980s and was then revived by younger enthusiasts. I came across the following Evening News report from March, 1904 which gives a wonderful flavour of the times: "Saturday found some 70 Clarion cyclists and friends at Rivington, the occasion being the opening run, tea party and social at the unitarian School in the village. After tea a social was held. The Rev S. Thompson presided and delivered a pithy address on old England sports. Between the dancing Miss Sandham sang most sweetly, giving entire satisfaction and pleasure to the company. Comrades Hancroft and Marsh also sang and a couple of recitations were contributed by Comrade Fred Wild, also one by Comrade Nicholson of Preston. The affair on the whole was up to the mark and everybody seemed to have a good time. The ride home at night put all in good heart and the Secretary reports that they feel as if a very good start has been made for the season. Run cards are now ready and he is wishful to supply all intending members."






Local Bike Shops web links - MK Cycles, Geoff Smith Cycles, Brown's Tyres

FB logo
Click here to join our Facebook group
(Bolton Clarion members only)

Members Blog

Become a Member