BACKPEDAL: Record holder and Olympian race for top Balham honours in 1900s

The discovery of four newspaper race reports has given us new insight into the early days of Balham CC including the revelation that Olympian W Lower was a member of the club.

 

The Riders

Formed in 1897, by the mid-1900s a number of top cyclists were riding for the Balham. In 1908, W Lower represented Great Britain at the London Olympics in the 20km recording a DNF in one of the semi-finals. In the three years before he took part in the Balham Club Championships at Crystal Palace winning the quarter-mile handicap in 1905 and one-mile handicap in 1907. Race reports from the time list W Lower as riding for Putney AC or Balham CC and sometimes both. It wasn’t unusual for riders to belong to more than one club during this period, which gave them more opportunities to race.

OS_Spiele_1908_20-km-Rennen
A semi-final of the 20km cycling competition at the 1908 London Olympics, White City

AW Hunt is another well-known ‘Balham crack’ from this time. Most notably on 20 July 1904 he beat the 25-mile amateur tandem paced record. Later in the year along with the legendary WJ Pett he broke the Southern Roads Record Association Tandem Unpaced Record. In 1905 he came third in the NCU 50 Mile Championship.

040724HuntRecordCyclingMag
AW Hunt claims the 25-mile amateur record
041031 StjGaz AWHunt
AW Hunt in the news again, this time for the tandem unpaced record

Another notable Balham rider is A Swonnell, who came fourth in the 1909 One-Mile SCCU Championship. Four-time world amateur champion WJ Bailey won the race and it’s worth noting a previous winner was our own Albert Wills.

SCCU1909Swonnell
Balham member A Swonnell in some great company

The Venue

Crystal Palace is used as the venue for the club championships of the period that we know of. The 1906 report mentions it’s the ninth annual event at Crystal Palace, which is consistent with the club’s formation in 1897 and the opening of the new Crystal Palace Cycling track in 1896 (see below).

CrystalPalace1896
Crystal Palace – home to the Balham Club Championships
IllSportDramatic17Sept1904Pics copy
The Crystal Palace Track during the 1904 World Championships

The Officials and Sponsors

We know from club memorabilia that Harry Cusden, listed as a judge in 1907, was a former club president. There are also a couple of familiar family names from the roll of honour in Parks and Swonnell. The latter is revealed as Club Honorary Secretary and Treasurer in 1907. Charles H Cartwright is the same Cartwright sponsoring one of the three cups – Cartwright and Etches Cup, The Huntley Cup and the Langford Cup. Cartwright and Etches was an auctioneers’ and estate agent based at 1 The Bank Buildings, Balham. George Huntley, reported as being a race judge in 1905, was the landlord of the Balham Hotel (Now the Regent) and founder of the Cycling Club.

LdnDailyNews040705CartEtchesAd
Cartwright and Etches advert from the London Daily News in 1904

ADDENDUM 9 June 2017

 

From top left clockwise: The Sportsman 13 June 1903; The Sportsman 21 July 1904 and The Sportsman 23 June 1904

Three further newspaper articles have been found that help build a picture of events in the early 1900’s. The first reveals the line-up – but sadly no results – of the 1903 Championships. The second highlights that AW Hunt claimed the record at a Balham CC cycling ‘meet’ which includes some familiar Balham names.  The third reports on the 25 mile paced Scratch and Sealed Handicap and a new cup – the Payne Challenge Cup – which we can confidently deduce is named after the Club President, H Payne.

Worth noting that in 1903 Nott is named as part of the Nott, Cartwright and Etches Cup. Nott died in 1904 hence the name change in 1905.

Club Championship Winners 1902-1908 (Updated 9 June 2017)

Race / Trophy
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
Quarter-Mile Handicap (Huntley Cup)
W Lower
A Robinson
H Tozer
S Ingram
WG Parks
A Robinson
H Tozer
H Lovett
A Robinson
F Marshall
A Swonnell
LA Marshall
One-Mile Handicap (Cartwright and Etches Cup)
C Price
W Parks
J McKinlay
WG Priest
AW Hunt
AW Hunt
A Swonnell
WG Parks
A Swonnell
W Lower
A Robinson
W Lower
O Robinson
H Lovett
F Marshall
A Swonnell
LA Marshall
Five-Mile Handicap (Langford Cup)
A Robinson
G Welfare
A Swonnell
A Robinson
A Swonnell
HG Priest
WG Parks
A Robinson
R Evans
A Swonnell
F Marshall
WG Priest
Quarter-Mile Flat Handicap
A Parks
CH Cartwright
S Swonnell
FE Grant
A Stallwood
H Knapp
One-Mile Consolation Race
H Sams
S Swonnell
A Parks
25 Mile Paced Scratch & Sealed Handicap (Payne Challenge Cup)
AW Hunt
AW Hunt
AW Hunt

Club Championship Officials 1904, 05, 07, 08 (Updated 9 June 2017)

Role
1904
1905
1907
1908
Referee
H Payne
F Curtis
Judge
F Curtis
G Huntley
CH Cartwright
E Bond
Judge
WJ Parks
E Swonnell
H Cusden
A Baxter (Hon Sec)
Judge
F Brooks
G Penn
M Helier
P Roberts
Timekeeper
?G ??
WJ Parks
J Fleming
HE Murrell
Starter
F Smith
F Smith
Frank Smith
P Roberts
Handicapper
WJ Parks
Bond
Handicapper
JJ Smith
Penn

Your Help

Have you or any family members got any photos or club memorabilia from the Balham years?  Email me at balhamcyclingclub@btinternet.com or drop me a line in the comments box. I would love to hear from you.


Sources

Newspaper cuttings from FindMyPast

AW Hunt article from Cycling

20km London 1908 Olympics photograph from Wikipedia

Photograph of Crystal Palace track – source unknown

5 thoughts on “BACKPEDAL: Record holder and Olympian race for top Balham honours in 1900s

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