A History of the Rossendale Road Club
by Harry Law
The Road Club was founded in 1937 as a purely cycling racing club, running alongside the Rossendale and Whitworth Wheelers, who combined with racing a high level of cycling touring activity.
The only trophy the club possessed from that era is the “Ernald Rawlinson trophy” (the Rawlinsons were local manufacturers). The first inscription on the trophy is 1938 J.W Palmer 1hr 4 minutes 40 secs (which is presumably for a 25 mile time trial).
Johnny Palmer was a celebrated racing cyclist who bettered the legendary Frank Southall’s 100 miles time trial record but never made the record book due to Southall bettering his own record some 10 minutes earlier on a course in another part of the country.
Another celebrated rider for the road club at that time was Jack “socks” Spencer who, in the early post-war years, was in the pool from which the Olympic cycling squad was to be selected but missed out due to injury.
The club lapsed with the onset of the Second World War leaving Whitworth and Rossendale Wheelers to carry on through these years.
The War over and work progressed towards the celebration of the festival of Britain in 1951. Rawtenstall Corporation invited the wheelers to showcase themselves with other bodies in the valley to put on some events to demonstrate their various activities (racing in the case of cycling). Due to the strict R.T.T.C and N.C.U regulations of the time the committee felt unable to do this. The club secretary of the time Ron Bradshaw (Author of Boots & Saddles) and keen to promote cycling with a higher profile was so frustrated he held a meeting at 28 Woodcroft street at which fifteen wheelers were present and the Road Club was reformed. One of those present was the son of Rossendale Wheelers president David Cross, whose sister Jean provides the club room that the Rossendale Road Club use at present.
The Road Club put on several events “the festival race” being one. The Rawlinson trophy was returned to the club, Jack “socks” Spencer returned, Johnny Kay made a room over his cycle shop available as a club room and Jack Harvey, a local business man, became the president. Since then the club has been through phases of low activity and periods of success. It would be fair to say that the most successful ten year period was that in which Eric Wilson won the National Hill Climb Championship in 1955, 57, 60 and 64. Rossendale was the winning team in 1960. The club continued to promote events up to 1973 with a dwindling membership and no activity in the years 74 and 75. In 1976 a fresh effort was made with a new committee and has continued on from there.
The club is affiliated to the
- British Cycling
- Cycling Time Trials
- North Lancs time trials association
- Lancs and Lakes sporting courses association
Members also affiliate to track league seasons at the Manchester Velodrome and the club promotes a full season of events to encourage young and older recruits to the sport.
The present membership includes members who participate in time trials, road racing, track racing, mountain biking, cyclo cross and triathlons.
The club realises the need to welcome members of all the two wheel disciplines and to encourage good associations with other clubs in the sport and welcome participation in club events by other clubs.