National Clarion Cycling Club

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National Clarion Cycling Club
Motto Fellowship is life[1]
Formation Easter 1895 in Ashbourne
Type cycling club
Legal status current - continuous operation and membership since its formation in 1894
Purpose The Clarion’s objects shall be: To protect and further the interests of cycling and cyclists. To promote Mutual Aid, Good Fellowship and support for the Principles of Socialism.
Region served
Great Britain
as of 2016, 1800+ members, organised in 30 sections
Official language
Main organ
Boots & Spurs
Affiliations Cyclist Touring Club, British Cycling, Cycling Time Trials

The National Clarion Cycling club is a cycling club with some 30 member sections and over 1800 members throughout Great Britain and Europe.

Clarion Cycling Clubs[edit]

The first club was formed in February 1894 in Birmingham, England[1] as the Socialists' Cycling Club. At its second meeting it renamed itself the Clarion Cycling Club after The Clarion socialist newspaper.

By the end of 1894, readers of The Clarion formed local socialist cycling clubs in five industrial centres: Birmingham, The Potteries, Liverpool, Bradford and Barnsley.[2]

In 1895 at Ashbourne, Derbyshire the five clubs gathered for their first annual Easter Meet.[1] Together they formed the National Clarion Cycling Club, which is

"the association of the various Clarion Cycling Clubs for the purpose of Socialist propaganda and for promoting inter-club runs between the clubs of different towns".[1][2]

The number of local Clarion Clubs grew to 30 by the end of 1895 and 70 by the early part of 1897.[2] They reached the peak of their extent and influence in 1914, when their Easter Meet was at Shrewsbury.[2] The illustrator and socialist Walter Crane designed the National Clarion Cycle Club's letterhead.[1][2]

Clarion Scouts[edit]

In 1894 a writer in the Clarion under the pen-name "Numquam" suggested a "cycling corps of Clarion Scouts".[2] That summer, a meeting between The Potteries and Birmingham Clarion Clubs decided to put it into effect: "scouts" using their cycling trips to circulate socialist leaflets and copies of the Clarion wherever they visited.[2]

In November 1894, members of the Bradford and Liverpool CCC's campaigned for socialist candidates in local council elections.[3] By the end of that year, 22 of the Bradford CCC's 25 members were working as Scouts, distributing propaganda to villages around the town.[3] In March 1895 a new socialist magazine, The Scout, was launched for Scouts to read and circulate.[3] It was subtitled "A Monthly Journal for Socialists" and its first edition included a set of "Instructions for Scouts" written by The Clarion's editor Robert Blatchford.[3] The Clarion Clubs also did much to circulate The Clarion, Blatchford's book Merrie England and the socialist ideas that they expressed.[2]

When the Clarion Clubs were formed, socialists in Britain were divided between the Social Democratic Federation founded in 1881, the Independent Labour Party founded in 1893 and smaller organisations. The Labour Representation Committee that evolved into the current Labour Party was not founded until 1900. Clarion Scouts were encouraged to support either SDF or ILP candidates in elections, and Scouts in districts that lacked local socialist groups were encouraged to form either a local group of either SDF or the ILP, and to build unity between the disparate organisations of Britain's labour movement.[3]

21st Century[edit]

Since 2007 the Clarion Cycling Club has seen a significant increase in its membership doubling in some 5 years tracking the popularity of cycling in the UK. Many new sections have started up from West Lothian, North Cheshire, Malmesbury, Yorkshire Coast, Saddleworth, Ironbridge and with several others in their infancy. Today the Clarion stands less for political activism and more for inclusivity, openness and equality [4] Despite the Clarion changing with the times, it still stands true to one of its earlier mottos - 'fellowship is life'. A biannual award-winning newsletter called 'Boots and Spurs' is published by the membership for the membership. The annual conference remains the mainstay of a social get together of like minded cyclists as well as the fulcrum of democracy within the Clarion.

National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 (2006)[edit]

In 2006 a splinter group called National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 North Lancs Union was formed but this is not affiliated to the National Clarion Cycling Club.[5]

National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 (North Lancs Union) is a politically active cycling club[6] that remains committed to the objectives of the founders of the Clarion Cycling Club in 1894 namely 'to combine the pleasures of cycling with the propaganda of Socialism'. NCCC1895(NLU) was formed to ensure that the Clarion's century old link with Socialism is maintained and the fight to achieve the fairer society the founders sought is never forgotten. From its inception in 1894 the Clarion Cycling Club was a politically active organisation and by maintaining a commitment to socialist principles and actively supporting their comrades in the Labour and Trade Union Movement, NCCC1895 are following in the footsteps of the founders of the first Clarion Cycle Club in Birmingham (1894). Tom Groom, the Club's first National Secretary wrote shortly before his death in 1945 'Of all the Clarion organisations...the Clarion Cycling Club alone remains fully alive. And so long as it keeps true to its objectives: Mutual Aid, Good Fellowship, and the Propaganda of the Principles of Socialism, it will have good cause and reason for keeping alive'. National Clarion CC 1895 stands firmly by the Clarion motto of old: 'Socialism: the Hope of the World', the Socialist Ten Commandments and the fight for a new society with Love as its Law and Justice its Foundation.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Home". National Clarion Cycling Club. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Clarion Cycling Club". Working Class Movement Library. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Clarion Scouts". Working Class Movement Library. 10 January 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Manners, William (9 June 2015). "The secret history of 19th century cyclists". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Pye, Dennis (2004). Fellowship is Life; The Story of the Clarion Cycling Club. Bolton: Clarion Publishing. ISBN 0-9525071-1-0. 

External links[edit]