101 Years Ago – CTC Gazette Jan 1910

You have probably gathered by now that I'm quite keen on cycling history. I can't resist old cycling magazines and the window they open onto a byegone world. At first glance, cycling in 1910 appears so very different from cycling in 2011, but a closer look reveals that some things have not really changed.


The adverts and the marvellous art deco 'CTC Remembrancer' on the contents page certainly come from a different era but turn to the editorial and things seem remarkably familiar.




The editorial is devoted to the very familiar topic of taking bikes on trains. A satisfactory solution had not been reached then and it still hasn't been reached now (Although I do remember the happy days of the late 70s and early 80s when you could just put your bike in the guards' van with no hassle and no charge). The CTC proposals were detailed on an inset long since lost but 'As representing directly over 100,000 cyclists and indirectly something over a million riders, they have framed for the coming Parliament a Bill which cannot be considered as otherwise than moderate, when the conditions that prevail in other countries in this matter of the conveyance of cycles by rail are considered.......and maintain that it would be to the railways' own pecuniary advantage to change their policy from that of discouragement to one of encouragement of the cylist to make use of them on other occasions than those of dire necessity.' Differently worded it could have been written yesterday!
'As we go to press we learn that Mr Winston Churchill, President of the Board of Trade, has consented to receive a deputation composed of delegates of the CTC and NCU on the subject of the Railway Bill, on Monday, the 3rd inst., at noon.'

Accounts of tours are followed by a piece on motor cycles – cyclists and motorcyclists were clearly not seperate species in those days! The letters page returns to more familiar territory and the topic of cold feet. Despite all the improvements in technical clothing we still haven't really solved this one! Recommendations include
'When about to start for a ride I would advise him to sit in a chair, with his feet in hot water, for ten minutes; then to suddenly plunge them into cold water for a few seconds, and afterwards rub them vigorously with a rough towel. The reaction should cause a pleasant glow in the feet for hours.'
I think I'll stick with my Goretex boots!

Equally topical is the suggestion for drying wet footwear
'Keep in a warm place a quantity of whole oats, and when you take off your wet footwear, wipe off the wet and then fill them with the oats. They should then be put in a dry place and in the morning you will find the oats have absorbed every particle of the moisture, and the shoes will go on dry and soft as if they had never been wet.'
I'm afraid I've only got Instant Porridge Oats or I'd give that one a try!

A letter headed 'Careless Cycling' begins with a very familiar refrain
'Sir, Can nothing be done to check the growing disregard by cyclists for the rules of the road?'
The worst offenders 'generally seem to be of the messenger, errand-boy class'. Couriers take note!

To me the most interesting piece is found in the account of the ninth annual supper of the Amateur Camping Club. (I'm not sure how a camping club could be anything but amateur but perhaps it was to distinguish it from the National Camping Club whose fourth annual dinner is also reported.)
'This was the most successful function ever held by the ACC. The President, Captain Robert F Scott, CVO,RN supported by a fellow Polar Explorer, Captain Frederick G Jackson, presided over a gathering of ninety two members and friends.
The President, who was greeted with a storm of cheers, spoke of his approaching expedition to the Antarctic, and readily fell in with the suggestion that he should carry with him a specially-designed pennon of the ACC. This will probably be worked by lady members of the club.'
I wonder if this was ever produced and if he really did take it.


7 comments on “101 Years Ago – CTC Gazette Jan 1910”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    That's very good Hilary. Errand-boy = white van man. What I especially like is the Brown Brothers Ltd advert – the bell and the lamps. I was looking for a bicycle bell the other day and the one in the advert is exactly what I saw in the shop. It must be an object with a perfect design. The oil and gas lamps on the other hand are a reminder that 1910 was a time before electricity was commonplace. Bicycle lighting technology will probably continue to develop for a long time.

    Perhaps you could write a book on the history of cycling, or some aspect of it. The International Cycle History conference seems to have found a gap in the market. At the very least we could create a new blog category named Cycling History, but I wasn't joking about the book – or an e-book maybe.

  2. Alan wrote:

    I love the contents page.

    In the 1960's, my brother had a cyclometer just like the one in the advert; I was very jealous.

  3. Mary wrote:

    Another superb find Hilary, and thank you for putting it on here. I love those magazines you seem to unearth. My hubby, is a BSA fan, and was quick to point out that before motorcycles BSA made bicycles and before bicycles they built guns... Birmingham Small Arms. Pity that their diversity ideas did not keep them in business longer.

  4. Chris wrote:

    Mary wrote: Another superb find Hilary

    Where are you getting your archive material from, Hilary? I thought I was doing well with my old CTC mags from the early 80s. I do like to see the old advertisements, and I love the artwork on the contents page. Excellent stuff.

    Incidentally, I used to have a BSA Meteor. That's an air rife, not a bike of any sort.

  5. Hilary wrote:

    I'm so glad you like the old magazines, I'm facinated by them but some people aren't interested at all – they only want to se the latest gizmos. I first got interested in them years ago when an elderly bike shop owner died and was found to have a whole room full of old magazines going back 60 years. The shops new owners sold them at 20p each to anyone who was interested. Unfortunately they were lent out and not returned but I've now found that all sorts of interesting bits and pieces come up on Ebay. All my archive stuff comes from Ebay. Sometimes people ask silly prices but other times you can get them for next to nothing.

  6. Kern wrote:

    Hilary, given your interest in cycling history I thought you might like the photo below.

    PA310208 This statue in Olso caught my attention last autumn for two reasons. First, in a city that has an enormous number of public statues, this is one of the few in which the subject is clothed. Second, of course, is the bicycle.

    The statue meant nothing to me until I returned home and tried to find out who the subject is. The plaque on the statue says it all: Gunnar Sonsteby, Freedom Fighter, 1940 – 1945. Wikipedia's entry on Sonsteby lists exploits that are the stuff of legend. He is the only person to ever have been awarded the War Cross with Three Swords.

    PA310209 So the question is: why the bicycle? Is it just a prop, or was there a story behind it? I have no idea. In my limited searches I found no mention of it.

    As a cycling historian, I thought you might like this one. Both Sonsteby and Per Ung, the sculptor, are alive, so it may possible to answer the question.

  7. Hilary wrote:

    Thanks for that Kern, he certainly has an impressive CV!
    I know bikes were widely used by resistance groups so I presume that is why he is depicted with one.

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