BACKPEDAL: Butler dominates ’38 Rough Stuff in glorious sunshine

1938 March 3 Source Cycling Balham Cyclists None mentioned Venue Surrey / Kent Meeting Balham Rough Stuff Meeting Date Sunday 1938 February 28 Race 25 Mile Race Result Norwood Paragon’s Butler and Willett reverse their 1937 positions take and are first and second respectively but Unity CC take home the team prize

Worth reading cutting just for the phrase: “Two men were turned back at the start and not allowed to compete until a bell was fitted to their machines”

Original caption: “Part of the course this year included a water-splash – a welcome cooler in view of the warm sun”

For the fifth time in seven years, SM Butler, the Norwood Paragon CC crack, won the annual “rough-riders event held over approximately 25 miles of Surrey lanes and bridle paths during the weekend. It was a gloriously sunny morning, windy, but, nevertheless, a direct contrast to the heavy snow of last year, when Butler’s clubmate FJ Willett won. Butler made no mistake about the victory this year, however. His time of 1hr 43mins 55secs was 2mins 48secs faster than Willett’s, who was second. Together, Butler and Willett needed a 2.4.47 to have won the team race but all clubs were allowed three men only to forma team (there were 200 individual applications to ride in the event), and the Norwood Paragon’s third man VS Lewis punctured twice and finished well down the list. AS it was, WJ Eliis of the Ilford Road Club, was third fastest with 1.48.8 and the Unity CC (JA Davis, KO Davis and RF Brierley) won the team race with 5.37.36. The Ilford RC were second with 5.43.55 and the South Western RC third with 5.44.41.

Original caption: “Stan Butler, winner of the Balham Rough-stuff, for the fifth time in seven years, sprints to the finish to win by nearly three minutes. Like most competitors, Butler wore touring shorts”

Among the 100 names on the starting card were those of KH Mosedale, winner of the sensational Bath Road Club 100 of a few years ago, A Bevan and HH Hill, the two British Olympic Games riders, L Thorpe, the holder of the competition 50 record and several London short-distance roadmen. Thorpe finished fifth and Mosedale and Bevan finished well down the list. So, too, did Hill. About half-way he was leading Butler by more than half a minute but soon afterwards he was forced to walk a hill which Butler rode and thus dropped back a minute. Later Hill punctured and soon skidded and fell. The majority of the riders rode machines equipped with variable gears – a wise fitment – for the course in some competitors’ eyes, was even harder than last year’s. Mr J Wells held the watch and started 85 riders who reported to him and clocked in 68 of them upon their return. Two men were turned back at the start and not allowed to compete until a bell was fitted to their machines. Six of those who finished were not credited with times because they did not give their numbers when requested by a checker. Following is a list of the 12 fastest:-



Your Help

Have you or any family members got any photos or club memorabilia from the Balham Rough Stuff ?  Did you ride in it in the 50s and 60s? Email me at or drop me a line in the comments box. I would love to hear from you.


Race report from Cycling Weekly formerly Cycling

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