I was born in July, 1939. From a very early age I was fascinated with wheels,
and indeed still am. My first machine at the age of four or five was a child’s
tricycle, which when temporarily left outside the rear of our terraced house
was completely trashed by a horse drawn laundry cart. It was never replaced
as the female members of the household – my Mother, her two unmarried
sisters and my Granny – (my Father was away fighting the Germans) felt that
I had had a lucky escape from being trampled myself. I can still see quite
clearly the mangled bike dangling from a hook under the cart on its very last
Transport was eventually resumed at the age of 8 with two wide pieces
of wood and four large pram wheels making a flat truck (Rover ll) which
eventually included a wooden brake working on one wheel – we lived in a hilly
area and I kept wearing a hole in the rear of my shorts.
My passing my scholarship in 1949 brought on a black roadster complete
with a Sturmey Archer and that got me back in the saddle until 1952 when I
acquired a second hand Dayton Roadmaster (below) for £9 – on hire purchase!
Three months later, in February 1953, I joined the Cyclists’ Touring Club and I was off in earnest, cycling myself to a standstill. The prettier parts of Lancashire, the Yorkshire
Dales, the Lake District, the Derbyshire Peak District, and North Wales all
came forward to put me under their spell, as they remain to this day!
In 1954 I joined the post war working population as a junior clerk at the North
Western Gas Board in Blackburn for the princely sum of £2-10 shillings a
week. It was about this time that I first met Charlie Chadwick, and despite the
age gap we quickly became very good friends. That friendship lasted for the
rest of Charlie’s life. In 1956 I attended the first RSF annual general meeting held at Llanfyllin which was a wonderful experience and included the crossing
with bikes of Moel Sych (2,713ft), quite a feat for a fifteen year old.
I joined the Merchant Navy as a Radio Officer in 1957 and several years
later emerged to marry into a non-cycling family after a courtship which
commenced on top of a Scottish Mountain during a YHA Skiing Holiday.
By this time Charlie had ceased leisure cycling and had moved from Bolton to Atherton House, Euxton, near Chorley, living with his wife and two of her siblings, Harry and
Lena, who were both somewhat handicapped. Charlie spent every hour of
every day he wasn’t at work making that property into something special. Our
two children couldn’t wait for repeat visits, running up and down the paths
and little bridges Charlie had built around the stream that flowed through the
Charlie died suddenly in 1968 when we were on a family visit to Australia, but
our links continued with his widow (Jo in the stories but always known to us
as Peggy). Peggy eventually spent her last two years in a Preston Hospital
with severe dementia and, as there were no children or immediate family, I
administered her estate on behalf of the Court of Protection. Peggy was also a
fearsome cyclist in her day, which I only fully realised after reading Charlie’s
pre-war journals after she had passed them to me in the late 1970’s. Peggy’s
demise marked the end of a cycling era in more ways than one.