Portsmouth North End Cycling Club was founded at the Thatched House in North End, Portsmouth in 1900 and in 1904 we became the first club in Portsmouth to have organised rides throughout the winter. In 1905 we won the Silver Shield promoted by Cycling (now Cycling Weekly) for having the largest number of racing members riding in England that summer! We also promoted our first 50 mile time trial in 1905 and in 1906 we promoted our first hill climb, up Southwick Hill. In 1907 we held a cycle sports meeting at Alexandra Park which attracted a crowd of 15,000! In the 1908 London Olympics, PNECC rider Clarence Brickwood Kingsbury won the Gold Medal for the pursuit and 20 kilometre events and in 1910 we began to permit ‘honorary’ members. In 1920 the PNECC moved its headquarters to the Blue Anchor Hotel in Kingston Cross. We dominated the Southampton Track League between 1934 and 1937 but, like all cycling clubs, the PNECC was badly affected by the advent of the Second World War in 1939. Time Trialling resumed in 1941 and in 1946 women were finally accepted as full members. 1948 saw the start of the hugely successful open track meetings at Alexandra Park (now the Mountbatten Centre). Massive crowds were drawn to the spectacle and as a consequence track racing boomed. In 1950 we celebrated our Golden jubilee with a 50 mile Madison and in Charlie Blandford became the first PNECC rider to beat the hour for 25 miles with a time of 59 minutes 55 seconds. By 1955 current Life Member Eric Newman had brought this record down to 58 minutes. The period between 1957 and 1962 saw current Life Member Harry Jackson perform outstanding rides on track and road including the Golden Mile at Herne Hill and many other events at venues across the country. Harry was at his most brilliant when he represented Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games and selected twice for the Olympics in 64 & 68.
Harry Jackson Olympic Cyclist
As the post-war British economy recovered, car ownership increased. Less people cycled and many cycling clubs shut down for good. The PNECC too faced abandonment in the late 1960s due to falling membership. Attempts to amalgamate with other local clubs were unsuccessful and the PNECC went into abeyance for a decade. The mid-1970s oil crisis tipped the balance back in favour of the bicycle and in late 1979 an informal meeting attracted enough people to agree to hold a PNECC re-inauguration a few weeks later. In 1980 cycle races began to see our pink and black racing colours for the first time in many years but by the mid 1980s our racing jerseys were mainly white with red and black trim so Julie Martin (now Julie Jarrett) introduced a red training top as a practical alternative. In 1986 members voted to adopt a red, white and blue racing design which can still be seen today, adorned with the well-known ‘PNE’ logo. In 2009 it was decided to replace the old red training top with a new design which featured the circular version of the PNECC logo and, importantly, it also featured the Club website address. By popular demand this design of jersey has supplanted the other one but both designs can often be seen being worn side by side. The PNECC is proud of its past but is always looking to the future, investing in facilities to ensure that its riders continue to enjoy and excel at the pastime and sport of cycling.
A NORTHENDER IN THE RAF
by Dick Evans
In late autumn of 1948, I entered the autocratic world of the Portsmouth North End where Eton collars and Homburger hats were the norm for the club president Mr. Casidy. To this day I can't remember speaking to the man, for one kept their place in the club protocol.
Being 18 years old I was eligible for National Service, but my call up was deferred whilst taking exams. Having passed my finals in May 1951, within two days I received my instructions to report to RAF Padgate in Lancashire complete with travel warrant.
This wasn't welcome as I was due to ride the club 100ml on the weekend. So my train journey up on the Saturday was a sombre occasion.
Leaving Portsmouth on a sunny day to arrive in Warrington, gloomy and wet, air, heavy with the smell of a local soap factory. We were met at the station by a corporal of a menacing appearance.
Following instruction by gruppe fuhrer we piled in the gharry to arrive at Padgate, to be our holiday camp for six weeks of square bashing hell.
Square bashing suited me being cycling fit, there were lads from all walks of society, never to have been away from home and unused to extreme physical exercise. They had one hell of a time, and there were cases of suicides in all training camps. Today in this area of political correctness we would have sued for victimisation and counselling.
Six weeks and I am a smart AC 2 "ERK", posted to Number 2 Radio School RAF Yatesbury, in Wiltshire.
At last cycling distance from home, with bags of money in my pocket £1.30 was the going rate for a National Serviceman.
No chance of racing it was 10 weeks of intense studying to qualify on Night Fighter Radar, so its was only possible on a long weekend pass home, to get some cycling time in. Fix wheel of course, 145 mile round trip. There were occasions when Sunday evening came and it was lashing down one didn't enjoy the ride back to camp.
One time riding in a typical dense foggy night through Wiltshire I got mixed up with tank manoeuvres near Devises and decided the ditch was the safest place, when one loomed out of a hedge. Arriving at Yatesbury late for parade, I was told to report to the orderly officer. "Question" why were you late airman? "Answer" Got ran over by a tank sir. "Reply" Original excuse airman 7 days jankers.
Next posting RAF St. Athens, very disappointed this was a maintenance unit and I wanted Flying Time.
This being in South Wales the first question was, any rugby players? Wrongly they assumed all Evans's played their game, so cycling was not the reply they were looking for.
I soon found out there were other out casts like me one being Haydn Cobley who lived in the same road and was a Northender. Cycling here was great with several of the current fastest in the land. Jim Scott from Upton Manor first rider to do a 56minute in 1952 on a Fix of course.
Wednesday afternoon was compulsory sports day, various groups lined up controlled by a sports officer. "Flight" you take the cyclist, "Flight Sergeant" was a little fat man and wasn't aware a 40 mile bash to Usk to a Mrs. Williams for her famous dinners. So off we trundled to the main gate with strict instructions, nobody passed me to we are out of sight, or you are all on a charge. "I am going to get my head down". Racing was good here but I longed to be involved with a active flying squadron. Posted yet again, this time to RAF Leeming in Yorkshire. "At last aeroplanes, Mosquito, and Brigands.
Here cycling was my undoing, bedside lockers were for personal items not spare sprints and tubs, so one AOC's inspection; billet floor shinning like a new dollar and anything that could be polished was polished.
He stopped at my bed and said open that airman's locker, out spilled wheels and tubs. There was a ominous silence "AOC" to Group Captain take that mans name, this being repeated down the VIP ranks to the duty Corporal. Another fine mess cycling had got me into.
A chance to come south, a squadron was to be detached to RAF Colerne near Bath to teach NATO navigators the use of airborne radar. The station was only to pleased to get shot of me. Here I got my feet under the table and became a cycling rep. for the stations. Once again cycling distance from home 180 miles round trip.
I soon got to know all the wrinkles not to ask for an early call at the guard room on a Sunday or wake the duty cook, 5 AM didn't exist on the Sunday morning clock to them.
So we had free run of the kitchens and also Wiltshire Pork Pies were once a week for tea.
I managed to secure a special food for the racing team, namely a large tray of pork pies, surprising the number claimed an interest in cycling when Buckshee pies were going for a few pence, all helping to buy our tubs.
Northenders are hard to get rid of, twice lady luck was my tandem partner. At RAF Colerne we had two war time Mosquitoes equipped with night fighter radar, occasionally the radar had to be tested under operational conditions. "Boy" were they a tight fit for the navigator, and being wood were prone to burning.
All this knowledge flashed through my mind as the under carriage collapsed and spun off the runway.
Final dice with death, a Brigand pilot accidentally, fired off a round of 20mm canon in my direction, when taxing the runway.
ALL A LIFE TIME AGO.
Linda and I have visited RAF Yatesbury and Colerne where once the sound of throbbing Merlin engines, and ghostly sound of voices shouting NAAFI up. Now they are fields of swaying corn.