History Of The Club
“IT was some time in April 1934 when a notice appeared in the local weekly newspaper that a meeting would be called in Mr M W Cook’s cycle shop in New Milton to which anyone interested in forming a local cycling club were cordially invited to attend.”
So wrote one of the founder members, Bert Sprackland, just prior to New Forest Cycling Club’s 50th anniversary dinner in 1984.
About a dozen people turned up to that meeting including Bert, Colin Broomfield, Vic Doe, Ted Joyce, Vernon Bulgin, Ted Hayward, Ronnie Pascoe and shop proprietor Maurice Cook.
“It transpired that Colin Broomfield and Vic Doe, with the co-operation of Mr Cook, had called the meeting , and the idea put forward was to start a nursery club for the Wessex Road Club of which both Colin and Vic were very active and successful members,” wrote Bert, who later became the club’s third president and a respected timekeeper.
Called the New Milton and District Wheelers with Maurice as its president and Colin as its secretary, the club began to attract members from across a wide area.
Racing was unknown to most members but was slowly introduced with Colin mapping out some 25 mile courses and Maurice acting as the club’s first timekeeper.
In 1937 it was decided to change the name to New Forest Cycling Club, the better to reflect the wider area the club was drawing members from.
Some of the 25 mile courses used then would not be countenanced on safety grounds nowadays.
One course started somewhere north of Sway, probably near Longslade, went east to Marlpit Oak crossroads, turned right towards Sway then left onto Pitmore Lane to the Wheel Inn crossroads, straight over to Fox Pond at Pennington where riders turned right onto the main road west to Milford, where I suspect the turn was around the village green, before returning to the start.
All those give way junctions would prove a frightening prospect today, but there was far less traffic back in the 1930s and 1940s.
The Second World War meant a reduction in club activities but they did continue in small measure with those in the reserved occupations and the wives and girlfriends of members keeping things going.
They included Colin Broomfield’s wife Elsie, his sister Norah, Ethel Plowman, Joan Sprackland, Lou Matthews and Roy Clark.
When hostilities ceased and club life resumed there were, unfortunately, several once familiar faces missing.
Committee meeting continued to take place in Mr Cook’s shop but in the late forties or early fifties, regular club night meetings started, first in the New Milton Institute, then the New Milton Hotel Pavilion and after that in the loft of the hotel stables, which I visited with my father Hugh, a club member, when I was a small child.
When I started regularly attending club nights in the mid-1960s, they were held in the now long-gone wood constructed Hordle Scout Hut. Later the HQ moved up the road to the former Tiptoe Church Hall on the north side of the B3055, where roller riding, billiards, table tennis, darts and tea served by the redoubtable Bert Sprackland were all part of the evening’s entertainment. Bert also kindly provided recent copies of Cycling magazine for members to peruse.
Now, with club nights no longer popular, when the club requires a meeting place, the replacement church hall on the opposite side of the road is used.
The club’s social events began way back in 1935 with a rabbit pie supper at the Railway Arms in Brockenhurst. There were also the annual dinner dances and prize presentations at venues throughout the forest. Over the years social gatherings have also included barbecues and skittle evenings.
Back in those early days, the club was affiliated to the Roads Time Trials Council, now Cycling Time Trials, and the National Cyclists’ Union, later the British Cycling Federation and now simply British Cycling.
As I write, cycle racing is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, but in this 2020 season, New Forest riders may yet do battle with Sotonia CC, Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers and Poole Wheelers, with invitation events lined up for Lymington Tri Cub as well.
The club has only had five presidents, starting with Mr Cook. The second was one-time secretary Sid Hollinrake, then Bert Sprackland, followed by Roger Bacon who sadly died in office after many years as fourth president in early December 2019. Maggie Bracher was elected in his place at the following AGM.
Roger deserves special mention. He was a former top cyclo-cross racer who was a founder member of the Wessex Cyclo-cross League and an enthusiastic time trial rider.
He was also a leader of many club Youth Hostel tours, a committed randonnee rider who made numerous foreign sorties; he toured extensively with friends and clubmates in Europe and, while staying with his uncle Ian Rogers, riding many of the Alpine passes made famous by Tours de France. Memorably, he also toured solo in New Zealand.
He organised many trips to the London and the Ghent six day track races, was a respected CTT timekeeper and promoter of many open races including the New Forest Two Day, the Longslade Bottom and Crow cyclo-crosses and the Boxing Day 10, as well as organising a varied club evening time trial programme.
New Forest CC has promoted many time trials over the years including the Round the Forest, which was 68 miles but had to be reduced to its current 33 miles because of road conditions and traffic lights.
The Round the Forest was originally designed as a club record course of 70 miles. In 1951 Keith Walker completed the course in 3-5-57, according to the Cycling magazine of November 1 of that year. The current record of 2-44-47 over 68 miles belongs to Chris Jolliffe in 1983. I well remember having to cross the railway line at Totton by scrambling over the footbridge in shoes plates in the rain when the crossing gates closed before me in an attempt I made back in the day. Along with the forest cattle and ponies, the gates were one of the hazards of the circuit.
Another popular event was the open 50, based at Ringwood. Probably the highlight of the club’s promotions was in 1979 when it organised the National Championship 50, won by Phil Griffiths in 1-53-04.
Other open time trials included the 25s based at Avon Forest Country Park, the autumn 10s once sponsored by Ringwood Brewery and, of course, the much-loved Boxing Day 10, with its fancy dress section, run on the Ringwood to Sopley road.
The aforementioned Keith Walker was obviously having a good season in the summer of 1951 as the June 28 edition of Cycling has him as winning a club 25 in 1-04-15 with C (Charlie?) Case taking second place with 1-04-42. The same edition shows a continuing link between Wessex RC and New Forest CC with a Wessex 50-mile club event result showing Alf Miller taking second place behind C Crew (2-10-18) with 2-10-31, though it’s not entirely clear whether Alf was racing in Forest or Wessex colours on that occasion.
Alf and his then wife Ann became true New Forest CC stalwarts and were heavily involved in the club well into the 1980s with daughters Sue (who married Glenn Longland) and Paula both successfully competing across the country in road races.
Over the years the club has introduced several riders to the sport who have gone on to represent their country on the track or compete at the top tier in time trialling.
Those trackies are Ann Davey and Jon Dibben.
Born in October 1963, Ann was an accomplished road racer and track sprinter who took gold in the National Sprint Championship in 1981 and followed up with a silver medal in 1982.
Jon Dibben started with New Forest CC as a schoolboy. After moving on from the club he became a member of the National Squad and is currently riding the road as a professional with Lotto Soudal having ridden with Team Wiggins in 2016, Team Sky in 2017 and 2018 and Madison Genesis in 2019.
On the track in 2011 he was a member of the winning Team Pursuit squad at the British National Championships and second in the Individual Pursuit in the Nationals the following year when he also took second in the Omnium in the Junior Worlds.
At the European Championships in 2014 he was in the gold medal Team Pursuit squad and second in the Omnium and third in the Individual Pursuit at the Nationals.
In 2015 he was at the European Championships again and was in the winning Team Pursuit quartet and third in the Omnium. In the Nationals he was second in the Scratch Race and third in the Individual Pursuit.
In 2016 he became World Champion and European Under-23 Champion in the Points Race and was a member of the Team Pursuit squad that took silver at the Worlds.
In time trialling, Joe Mummery was the first to take a national championship medal, a silver, in the 1968 25-mile championship. By then riding for the Polytechnic CC he and teammate, the great Alf Engers, shared second place in the Championship on the Goostrey course in Cheshire with times of 54-52, both pipped to the post by Oldbury & District’s Ray Ward by a mere second.
Also winning time trial awards, was Phil Guy who, when moving back to the West Midlands after a couple of years in New Forest colours, went on to join the all-conquering Manchester Wheelers-Trumanns Steel team. In 1982 with John Woodburn and Martin Harney as teammates he won a gold team medal in the 1982 British Best All-Rounder competition with an average speed of 24.534mph and then, in 1986, riding with Ian Cammish and Steve Potts the team averaged 25.185mph to win again.
In New Forest colours, at schoolboy level, in the 1970s Chris Jolliffe, and in the 1990s, Edward Martin did particularly well earning high positions in the under-16s’ top TT, the George Herbert Stancer Memorial 10-mile Championship.
Christine Panks (formerly Lacey) took courage in both hands in 1982 and rode with Dave Pitt of the Charlotteville CC to take the National 25-mile record of 58-25 on a tandem tricycle.
Club records do not seem to exist until 1954 when Chris Gannaway was top dog cleaning up with 1-5-04 for 25 miles, 2-10-25 for 50, 4-37-56 for 100 miles and 239.53 miles in 12 hours. He also took numerous other records in the early 1950s.
Other names that leap out from the records pages are Roger Bacon (1-02-20 in 1958), John Bramwell (30 in 1-23-42 in 1955), Pete Hawker (1-16-57 for 30 in 1959), Ronnie Silk (399.57 miles in 24 hours in 1955) and Pete Johnson (422.79 miles in a 24-hour in 1958).
In 1963 and 64 it was Joe Mummery who five times whittled the club 25 record down to 57-57.
Mick May, Chris Creswick, Pete Hawker, John Pinder, John Page and L (Laurie, I believe) Rider also claimed records in the 1960s.
In the 1970s it was Derek Panks and former Milk Race rider Bob Clark, who joined from Wessex Road Club, who were setting the records and, along with Phil Guy, Dave McLean, John Pearce and myself, were scooping up team awards in southern “opens”.
In the 1980s, Ian Parker, Jonathan Bottomley, Colin Bix, John Satherley, Jason Durno, Alan Hall and Chris Jolliffe were record-setting.
Robin Wilmott, Mike Ashurst and Terry Jefferies all set records in the 1990s. Antony Green had joined the club by then and showed what was to come when he started producing good results including eighth in the Round the Forest time trial and joint 36th with Salisbury RC’s James Clark with 22-45 in the National 10-mile Championship organised by CC Weymouth.
Names to leap from the pages in the 2000s include Ian Bishop, Martin Beale, Terry Jefferies, Vic White, Aaron Carter, Phil Gates, Ben Boardman, Colin Humm, Tom Butler, Jamie Pope, Hugo Walters, Andy Betteridge, Konnor Bracher-Walsh and James Bannister.
Others include Gary Lock, John Heffernan, Sasha Ring and Ray Claridge.
Latterly, Paul Lockyer (with a new club record of 19-18), along with Aron Kelly and Nick O’Hara set a new club team 10 time of 1hr 1sec (19-53 by Aron and 20-50 by Nick). Stuart Peckham was Aron’s and Paul’s teammate for the 25 record of 2-45-22 (53-35, 53-39 and 57-48, respectively).
Like Chris Gannaway way back in 1954, a resurgent Antony Green currently has most of the club’s individual records: 31-07 for 15 miles, 51-00 for 25 miles, 1-03-01 for 30 miles,1-45-14 for 50 miles 3-48-31 for 100 miles and 256.13 miles for 12 hours.
Over the decades, women’s records were claimed by G Kiddle, R Hiscock, Beryl French, Carol Gannaway (later Needham), Ann Davey, Mel Kitcher (current 15 and 30 mile records), Christine Lacey (current 10, 25, 50 and 100 records), Judith Caldwell, Catherine Pascoe (current 12 hour record and 15, 25 and 30 mile record holder on veteran standard) and current veteran 10 mile record-holder Sonia Laurie to name but a few.
New Forest CC members were at the first annual prize presentation of the Bournemouth & District Ladies’ Time Trials Association, presumably the precursor to the Bournemouth & District Women’s Cycling Association. It was held somewhere in Poole in the autumn of 1951.
In addition to the above club records, there are also a large number of times to target on two or three wheels, including veteran age records.
For more information on performances in open events over the years, check out the archives on the CTT South district website: www.southdc.org.uk . The archives show the changes in recorded times over the decades and show up some unexpectedly good performances.
As well as Roger Bacon there have been other “characters” in the New Forest fold during past years, including club chairperson Margaret Read and husband Gerry who have become familiar faces at club events and numerous opens, either at signing-on or the tea stall.
And who can forget tricycle enthusiast and long distance rider Eric Dunstan who regularly used to ride home to Tyneside to visit family.
In recent decades the old fashioned clubrun (with the football that used to be carried in a net on top of Pete Johnson’s saddlebag) has seen its demise. However, New Forest CC has regular Saturday and Sunday morning rides, both of which are well attended and leave Brockenhurst’s Brookley Road car park at 9am, unless weather conditions, or coronavirus, dictate otherwise.
And in the winter there are weekly turbo training sessions run by club coach Barry Wootten in Brockenhurst or, more recently Boldre, village halls
In the background have been several people who have taken on what is sometimes seen as the onerous task of being club secretary. Those that spring to mind include the first, Colin Broomfield, then Jim Lane in the late 1960s and more recently Geoff Smith, Peter Weaver, Martin Balk, Stewart Ward and Kelvin Pinchen.
In addition there are many who have been timekeepers, committee members and/or delegates to various organising bodies and those who turn out to marshal at time trials and road races, or help out with this great sport of ours in myriad other ways.
In writing this there will be many I have missed out. To those I send my apologies. To those I have known since I first became a family member with dad Hugh back in the mid-1960s, thank you for your friendship, help and company on and off the bike. It has been a great pleasure. I just hope I will be around to help celebrate the club’s 100th birthday celebrations.