Arthur Markham (cyclist)

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Arthur Markham
Personal information
Full name Arthur Matthew Markham
Born 1845
St. Marylebone, England, United Kingdom
Died 19 June 1917 (aged 71–72)
Team information
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Major wins
1 June 1868 - First formal race in Great Britain

Arthur Matthew Markham (1845[1] – 19 June 1917)[2] was an English cyclist who won the first formal cycle race held in Britain


Markham won what is said to be the first formal cycle race held in Britain. It was in a meadow at Brent Reservoir, known locally as the Welsh Harp, in north-west London on Whitsun Monday, 1 June 1868.[3] Markham received a silver cup from the licensee of the Old Welsh Harp Hotel, William Perkins Warner, who had sponsored the race.[4][5] In another source, Warner is named as Jack.[6]

Markham opened a bicycle shop at nearby 345 Edgware Road[7] in 1872. He had another in Station Approach, Shepherds Bush, London. Markham listed his occupation as an engineer in the 1881 census, his sister, Helen D. Markham was aged 23 and listed as a "bicycle maker".[7]

The race was held the day after what is often referred to as the world's first race, in the park at St Cloud west of Paris. It was won by another Englishman, James Moore. His grandson, John, believes Moore is buried near the reservoir.[8]

Markham used his winnings to take a coach to Bath where on 27 June 1868 he took part in another race and beat a rider called Abrahams, considered the favourite.[3] Markham was a strong swimmer and saved a man from drowning in the River Avon, although it's not clear if this was on the same trip. The Royal Humane Society awarded him a parchment in recognition of his bravery, on 21 October 1868.[3]

In 1878 Markham was a co-defendant in a court case about fraudulent velocipede races.[9] In his summing up of a complex and entertaining case, the Lord Chief Justice said:

Markham has also been described as a professional runner. His son, A. G. Markham, broke the Road Records Association unpaced tricycle record for 100 miles with 5h 57m 22s in 1903. He was captain of the Bath Road Club in west London.


  1. ^ England & Wales Birth Register Index, Arthur Matthew Markham; October/November/December 1845; Registration district: Marylebone; Volume: 1; page: 216
  2. ^ England & Wales Death Register Index, Arthur M Markham; April/May/June 1917; Age: 73; Registration district: St Marylebone; Volume: 1a; page: 665
  3. ^ a b c Cycling Record, UK, 1968
  4. ^ Association of British Cycling Coaches, The Evolution of Cycling in Britain by Malcolm Firth Archived 21 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ The Hendon & District Archaeological Society, Newsletter 415 October 2005[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Ritchie, Andrew (1999)), The Origins of Bicycle Racing in England: Technology, Entertainment, Sponsorship and Advertising in the Early History of the Sport, Strathclyde University, UK
  7. ^ a b 1881 Census - 345 Edgware Road, Paddington, London - Arthur Marckham, an "Engineer" aged 35, living at the address along with his mother, Sarah aged 61 ("Annuitant", born Pampesford, Cambridgeshire), sister Helen D. Marckham, aged 23 is listed as a bicycle maker, and sister Kate, aged 22, a dressmaker
  8. ^ Procycling UK p107
  9. ^ a b New York Times, 2 January 1878. Swindling in England. The Result of a BicycleMatch. How British Sports are Disgraced. A Butler aiding in a Shameful Swindle. Velocipede Riders Defrauding the Public. Singular Scene in a London Court-room.