Balham CC return to Herne Hill Velodrome

A Balham CC contingent travelled to Herne Hill yesterday, for many a first taste of fixed wheel, single-speed, no brakes velodrome cycling.

14 club members took on the ‘fixie’ 2 hour lesson which included sessions on how to get on the thing, how to stop the thing, how to pedal the thing, and then how to do it all on a steep bank in a group on the unique 450metre track.

We thought we looked brilliant but photos and video footage suggest otherwise.

South London’s iconic 1948 Olympic venue has a strong connection with Balham CC with club members wearing the famous red, white and black on the track in the 1920s until the 1950s.

From left to right: John Simcock (on a Holdsworth bike which he still owns!), Jack Osborne, Eric Purton and Ron Oughton. Photo taken at the Herne Hill track in front of the stand. Exact date unknown but between 1947-1951.

In 1925 the club launched the 25 miles Tandem-Paced event, which was soon officially recognised and became the NCU (London Centre) 25 mile Tandem-Paced Championship, hosted at Herne Hill for many years.

In an extraordinary twist of fate we met a cycling stalwart who was visiting Herne Hill Velodrome with some Frank Southall memorabilia. He had on him a 1929 NCU (London Centre) 25 mile Tandem-Paced Championship medal for Frank Southall and A Howard and a pacer medal for Howard from a year earlier (see below). Both in the familiar Balham CC medal layout from that period.

Frank was born in Wandsworth and rode for Norwood Paragon CC. He won silver medals for Great Britain in the individual road race (run as an individual time trial) at the 1928 Olympics and a track cycling medal at the 1932 Olympics. He also represented Britain in world championships from 1926 to 1933.

He also entered but never won the Balham CC Rough Stuff, coming runner-up in 1931. Records show that he raced in the event at least three times (1931, 32 and 33). Although unconfirmed, we also think he guested as a Balham CC rider on a few occasions.

A great unexpected turn in Balham CC 2017’s special return to the famous velodrome.


With thanks to John Simcock for the Herne Hill Photo part of his cycling memorabilia collection

Photos courtesy of Shauna Dennison and Sarah Warner

Strava map courtesy of Matt Warner

Your Help

Do you have any memorabilia associated with Balham CC at Herne Hill Velodrome? Any evidence to suggest that Frank Southall did once ride for Balham CC? Email me at or drop me a line in the comments box. I would love to hear from you.

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