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1904 Cyclists' Meet

Mike Wilson, Local Author and Historian

We have had a lot of excitement recently with the Tour de Yorkshire, which started off in Bridlington at 11.45am on Friday, 1st May, 2015. Thousands of people lined the streets and there was bunting and decorated cycles all over town.

But, 101 years ago, Bridlington was the venue for the 23rd Annual Great Yorkshire Cyclists' Meet & Races, held on Whit Monday, 23rd May, 1904.

I don't expect the town was as decorated as for the Tour, but there would have been excitement and anticipation on the Recreation Ground, which was 'near the station,' as shown on the Official Programme (right). The Recreation Ground was part of the Dukes Park site in those days.

The list of events was as follows:

No.1 - Half Mile Open Bicycle Scratch Race, Heats.
No.2 - One Mile Open Bicycle Handicap, Heats.
No.3 - 120 Yards Open Flat Race, Heats.
No.4 - Half Mile Open Bicycle Race Scratch, Final.
No.5 - Obstacle Race.
No.6 - One Mile Open Bicycle Handicap, Final.
No.7 - Quarter Mile Open Flat Race, Heats.
No.8 - Half Mile Open Bicycle Handicap, Heats.
No.9 - 120 Yards Open Flat Race, Final.
No.10 - Quarter Mile Open Flat Race, Final.
No.11 - Half Mile Open Bicycle Handicap, Final.
No.12 - Walking Match, three miles.

The Mayoress of Bridlington (Mrs C. E. Field) distributed the prizes to the successful competitors at the close of the Sports.

Prizes were generous, too. The winner of the first event won an electro-plated tea and coffee set, with urn on oak tray, valued at £7 7s. (£7.35). I think that was a lot of money in those days.

In event two, the prize was of equal value in the form of a solid silver afternoon tea set (three pieces) and an oak tray. 

The winner of the final half mile open bicycle scratch race was H. Crowther, of Leeds A.C., riding in green and white. Second was W. P. Naylor, of Leeds A.C., while third was C. P. Wilson, Leeds A.C.

The three-mile walking race was won by F. Jones, of Filey, with J. R. Crosby, of Driffield, second, and F. Harrison, of Bridlington, third.

The 32-page booklet (price two pence) also features many advertisements from local businesses, including two still active today: Half Moon Inn and the Cricketers' Arms. If you needed a piano, Friend Co. of Chapel Street, could provide one; tripe (the finest cure for indigestion!) was available from Sam Fearnley on Queen Street; you could advertise in the Bridlington and Quay Gazette on the Promenade; and Stephenson & Martin of Hull could provide you with Kangaroo brand tobacco (the best dark smoke in Yorkshire). 

Rope and twine was manufactured by P. W. Gibson on the High Street, and Geo. W. Richards provided silk, felt and straw hats at their premises, 4 and corner of Prospect Street. Gray's Supply Stores, on Queen Street, could provide pale ale, dinner ale, stout, hams, bacon, cheeses, etc. 

Clarkson & Co. of Prospect Street advertised as general furnishing ironmongers; S. H. Brown offered their cycle and motor depot on the Promenade, with cycles on hire and motor spirit always in stock; at 4 Manor Street, G. Knaggs offered his services as a painter, decorator, sign writer and paperhanger; while M. C. Clarkson at 65 Promenade provided services as a registered sanitary plumber, glazier, gas and electric fitter and painter. 

Bridlington Agricultural Society's 69th Annual Show was also advertised with £450 in prizes, while Eric S. A. Smith, engineer, offered his windmills for pumping and power. On the inside back cover, Bladon's of Prospect Street, Hull, offered themselves as house furnishers, carpet factors and removal contractors. The back cover promoted Dewhirst Bros as the leading jewellers of the town in their premises on Garrison Street.

I found this a fascinating little booklet, which cost me £16.66, a strange price but the item was well worth the cost.