1945 to 1969 - Post War Reminiscences
After the war things got under way again, the B.A.R. in 1945 was once again won by Eddie Watts. Frank Roome took on the job of getting the racing side of the Club back on its feet and he had the satisfaction in 1946 of seeing his younger brother Beg become Club Champion and a protégé of his, Derek Bingham, won the Novices Trophy. True to tradition, the following year saw Derek Club Champion whilst Eddie broke both the 100 miles and 12 hour records. At this time the Club was blessed with a little Welshman named Dave Thomas who was a real trier in every sense of the word and it was befitting when in 1948 he won the B.A.R. shield which was with a record average speed. 1949 saw the Club reaching its peak, Club events had fields of over 30 riders. We had four club run sections and were riding Track at Paddington and massed start at Matching Green, Finsbury Park and Stapleford Tawney. Reg Roome now back from service in the R.A.F. was again Club Champion; he broke the 25, 50 and 100 miles records and started a tandem craze in the Club, so much so that in 1950 we fielded six tandem pairs in events and won the team race in the Upton Manor Tandem 30 by shear weight in numbers.
A Ladies team was formed under the leadership of Anne Gregory who was lowering all the ladies times. Four mens teams were riding most weekends in Open events. The Best All Rounders competition was extended over 25, 50, 100 miles and 12 hours and once again it was that great stalwart Eddie Watts who showed everybody the way home. He did it again in 1951 and now the Club was really at its peak. Roy Thame lowered the ‘50’ to 2h 9m 40s and with Dave Thomas broke the Tandem 50 record. Eddie had now established himself as a long distance expert and set a new distance at 12 hours but he lost his 24 hours title to Dave Thomas. In all, nine records were smashed that year. A new Junior Championship was instituted over 10, 25 and 30 miles and was won by Mick Strange whilst Anne Gregory took the new Ladies Championship Trophy.
1952 was the year of great rivalry between the racing boys and no one held a record long — nine were broken during the season. Ray Allen lowered the 25 to 1h 2m 2s and this time was to remain for the next eight years. Eddie Watts was determined to hold the 24 hours record and did a very fine ride of 427¾ miles in the North Road 24 and this still stands. Roy Thame broke the 100 miles and 12 hours record and finished off the season by winning the B.A.R. championship with a record average speed of 21.824 mph; this remained the fastest average until 1959. The Junior Champion was Arthur Pearce whilst a new name was engraved on the Ladies Trophy — Judy Darby, who the following year as Mrs. Adams won the same award. The Club Champion was again Eddie Watts and the Junior Champion Ronnie Macey.
Unfortunately, 1953 saw the Club over its peak and for the next six years, apart from the ladies, racing was on the decline. Events were well supported but there was no one to challenge the never-say-die Eddie Watts. Judy broke five ladies records in 1954 and was again Champion whilst Eddie recaptured the 12 hours record and retained his Championship Shield. Les Thwaites, a very promising youngster was Junior Champion.
1955 saw Eddie in semi-retirement from racing and the new Champion was John Stewart, in 1956 he handed over this title to his brother-in-law Bill Byrne. A very active Club member at this time was Lee Jordan and he was making great efforts to get the Club back to its former glory. The year 1957 saw him racing more seriously to the extent of winning the B.A.R. Championship and this he retained in 1958. The 1957 Junior Champion was Mike Williams and in 1958 this title was held by a very promising youngster, Pete Chamberlain who also broke the Hemel Hempstead to Leighton Buzzard and back record, whilst Bob Clark and Bob Pither broke the Hemel Hempstead to Banbury and back tandem record.
The Club was now recovering from the doldrums of the fifties, Les Jordan, Bob Clark, Pat Johnson, Bob Pither and many others were very active and were being backed by a strong and enthusiastic committee. Many new names were appearing on the start sheets, Club records were being broken again, Joan Llowarch lowered the Ladies 25 record and won the Ladies Championship; Bernard Lamb, son of one or the founder members was Club Junior Champion and a name we were to hear a lot more of in the future — Norman Pool, who won the B.A.R. and also lowered the 50 miles record and with Bob Clark broke the 30 and 50 miles tandem records. The track side was being revived, Bob Clark and others were riding most Sundays in the Slough Track League and Bob was also having a go at Road Racing.
1960 was the Johnson’s year, Joan lowered the ladies 10, 25 and 50 records and was Ladies Champion whilst Pat won the B.A.R. Tony Sallis, a young member from a very active cycling family became Junior Champion.
As 1960 featured the Johnsons, so 1961 featured Norman Pool. He lowered Roy Thame’s 1952 100 miles record by no less than 18 minutes. He took the 25 miles record set up by Ray Allen in 1952 and did a very fine ride of 253 miles to capture the ‘12’. In winning the B.A.R. he was the first rider to average over 23 mph. Tony Sallis continued to show promise and was again Junior Champion and Joan Johnson was Ladies Champion. Bob Clark and Norman Pool gained their 2nd category Road Racing Licences. The following year was again Norman’s year, he lowered the 50 record and was only 0.07 mph slower than the previous year when winning the Championship again. Joan was making a habit of winning the Ladies B.A.R. and a schoolboy named Dudley Fisher flashed around to win the Junior Championship.
The Club was now really coming to the top, our Middle-markers 25 was well established and our International Road Race so capably organised by Bob Clark and sponsored by Ovaltine was one of the highlights of the Road Racing season and attracted most of the top British amateur riders and also Internationals from the Continent. Boy Thame, Bob Clark and Reg Collard were serving on the BCF West London Committee and were Divisional Commissaires and Judges. George Addy was Divisional Coach, Les Jordan was on both the North London RTTC and North Middx and Herts CA committees and Sid Goodwin was on the Road Safety Committee — and so we entered 1963.
Our previous efforts were rewarded when three International riders asked to join the Club; they were Jim Hinds, Bob Adds and Mike Shea. The Ladies B.A.R. was won yet again by Joan but the Club was now becoming stronger in lady members and she could expect a challenge for her title. Dudley Fisher upheld his early promise by winning the Junior Championship with a record average speed of 24.232 mph. Norman Pool came right back to the top, he lowered records week after week and broke seven in all during the season. His outstanding ride of the year was in the famous Bath Road 100 on August Monday when he recorded an excellent time of 4.12.36. Norman finished the season as Club Time Trial Champion with a very fast average speed of 23.505 mph and was well placed in the British Best All Rounder Competition.
The Hemel was a name to be reckoned with on the Track, our Juniors rode very well at Welwyn, Dudley Fisher and Bob Thompson were a good double harness combination. Dudley finished well up in second place in the Welwyn Junior Track Championship and went through his heats to qualify for the Schoolboys Sprint Finals at Lilleshall. Unfortunately, he met the eventual winner in an early round, but he put up a new track record. Ray Hawkins finished runner up in the North Middx and Herts Pursuit Championships and with Mike Shea, Bob Addy and Jim Hinds finished third in the London Centre Pursuit Championships. Mike Shea was our first Club Track Champion, he had numerous successes at Herne Hill and teamed with Bob Addy made a very formidable pair, winning the Belle Vue 50 lap Madison by lapping the field.
1963 will be remembered for its Road Racing successes, Roy Thame and Bob Clark were selected as officials in the Tour of Britain and Bob was asked to organise the London to York Road Race. This was a great success thanks to the Club, for they provided the organisation and carried out all the feeding arrangements over the whole 200 miles. Our International riders under the management of George Addy were soon hitting the headlines, week after week they were challenging for first places and first team awards. Mike Shea attained early season fitness and won the Brighton Trophy Grand Prix, The Archer Grand Prix, the Lester Young Memorial and many others and was selected to ride for his country in the famous 18 day Warsaw-Berlin-Prague Peace Race. Meanwhile, his team mates were building up to fitness, Jim Hinds got second place in the Tour of the North Downs and followed it with another second place in the six day Tour of the South West. He was then chosen to ride for the England team in the Tour of Britain. Bob Addy won our own Hemel Hempstead Grand Prix and rode for the Britannia team in the Tour of Britain. Meanwhile, Norman Pool had attained his first category licence and was strengthening the team to four riders. The three riders with Goz Goodman of the North Bucks were formed into a BCF team and rode in the Highgate Team Time Trial selection events finishing third. Here again the strength of the Club was shown, for we had helpers with spare wheels every mile round the 62½ miles course. The younger members were also competing most weeks and were gaining experience fast; we fielded 8 riders in the Division Championships.
We now come to the second half of the season, and this was Bob Addy’s half. Firstly he won the West London Divisional Championship, then went on to win the ‘All London Championship’ and rounded the season off by becoming the 1963 National Road Race Champion.
In all, we had 15 wins and 10 team wins in major events and great credit must be given to George Addy for his coaching and managing of the riders. So from that first 25 miles time trial of 10th September, 1933 we had progressed 30 years later on September 22nd 1963 with the National Road Race Champion.
It was at this point in the history of the Club that Sid Hall decided not to seek re-election as an official of the Club. He had held an official position in the Club for 25 years and in the lean years had always managed to keep the Club solvent.
The Club now approached 1964 with great confidence, both Bob Addy and Mike Shea had been selected to ride for the World Championship and Olympic short list.
In 1964, we were not disappointed, for this was indeed a milestone in the history of the Club. Bob Addy gained selection for the Olympic Games and represented Great Britain in the Team Time Trial in Tokyo and, if reports are to be respected, he appeared to be the strongest rider of the quartet giving a very creditable performance.
We also had two riders in Mike Shea and Bob Addy riding for the country in the Tour de L’Avenir and Mike took aver from Bob as All London Champion and was just beaten to the line in the National Championships taking the silver medal and emphasising the point that at this time we had one of (if not the number one) Road Race teams in country.
Once again the Club turned out in great numbers to provide all the back up, marshalling, feeding, judging etc., for the London to York, a mighty effort illustrating the terrific team effort of the Club.
The year was tinged with sadness however with the passing of one of the founder members of the Club, Freddy Dove, a really keen cyclist who always had loads of encouragement for other riders and whose name we remember through our Points Trophy, awarded to the rider who both takes part and has the best rides in Club Events only.
Our roadmen continued to have success in 1965, Mike Shea was selected to ride the Tour de L’Avenir for the second year and on the Time Trial side, the Ladies B.A.R. was livened up with June Earner and Heather Wells providing some opposition to Joan Johnson.
Later that year, Heather’s brother Peter, a small very slim lad joined the Club and the following year was to see the start of a long steady and determined climb which years later made him a National Champion.
By 1966 we were really spreading our wings, flying three of our Juniors on a pre season training trip to Majorca for two weeks. Dick Burnell won the G.P.Werner whilst out there and both Eddie Adkins and Mike Shonleben rode well and came back raring to go, Eddie was to become Junior Road Champion and Dick rode a terrific 25 to capture both the Junior and Senior Club records with a 57-56.
We also sent a team to Spain to ride in the Tour of Gerona in which Mick Brown rode very well ably supported by the rest of the team in which a very young and inexperienced Bob Symes was well and truly ‘blooded’. Although really out of his depth, he put up a truly game performance and provided he can remember anything about it, having ridden himself right into the ground, I am sure it was an experience he will never forget and shows the true Club spirit of the Hemel.
Mick Brown remained on the Continent with Andy Thomas and Brian Cronin and was to have a really good season with lots of places in top continental fields, whilst our other riders, Mike Shea and Alan Perkins continued to keep the Hemel colours to the fore at home. Mike was selected for the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica but had the misfortune to crash.
Once again there was competition in the Ladies B.A.R. and Joan Johnson rose to the challenge once again this no doubt spurring her on to a new 100 record, nearly breaking the 5 hour barrier in the process with a 5.00.53.
1966 also saw our first ever professional rider with Bob Addy taking the plunge and having a good start to. His new career whilst our Junior team finished up the year as probably the most successful in the Country.
To keep up the standard and raise it still further our Club Coach Les Jordan instigated the Ivinghoe Coaching week-ends, which proved an outstanding success as they also involved and brought in riders from other clubs who really appreciated the time and effort put in by the organisers and throughout the year we had a lot of success on the road with 22 wins and 67 placing’s.
Bob Addy represented the country in the World Championships and the Club remained very buoyant. However, moves were afoot to twin with the Watford Roads in an attempt to rationalise on Officials and administration and the two clubs paired up.
The late Sixties saw us more or less marking time, performances were good and once again Pat Johnson won the B.A.R. and Joan the Ladies B.A.R. whilst Pete Wells was both schoolboy and Junior Champion and embarrassed the handicappers by winning the Club Open 25 handicap award in 1968. He was again Junior Champion in 1969, moving steadily towards a 25 mph average.