The King’s Jester and the Balham Motor and Cycle Works


We’ve just got our hands on an old photograph of Balham High Road showing the The Dan Leno Motor and Cycle Works. With Dan Leno featuring in The Limehouse Golem, one of the major films of the year, we thought it timely to investigate the connection between Balham, Leno and Cycling and the story behind the shop that carried his name. Continue reading The King’s Jester and the Balham Motor and Cycle Works

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Arab Springs and Rational Jackets: South London cycling in 1884 (Part 1)


This month, we explore the South London Diaries series for the first time since the blog on June 2016.

What are they all about? Well, a 19th century South London cyclist has set a 21st century Strava challenge. He didn’t know it at the time, but when our Victorian trailblazer was writing about rides and times in his diaries for 1884 and 1885, he was chronicling some of the earliest ‘personal bests’ in London on record. Continue reading Arab Springs and Rational Jackets: South London cycling in 1884 (Part 1)

The greatest cycling venue London never had: The rise and fall of Balham Hyde Farm


In the early 1890s Hyde Farm, Balham was set to become the premier cycling track in London. By 1896 it had closed with the land to be used for housing, a victim of construction to saturation point of cycling tracks in the good times, cycling’s sudden decline in popularity, and a champion cyclist’s determination to make Herne Hill the capital’s number one venue. Here’s the story of the greatest cycling venue London never had. Continue reading The greatest cycling venue London never had: The rise and fall of Balham Hyde Farm

Cycle in South London like it’s 1885: the rides and times of a Victorian trailblazer (Part 1)


A 19th century South London cyclist has set a 21st century Strava challenge. He didn’t know it at the time, but when our Victorian trailblazer was writing about rides and times in his diary, he was chronicling some of the earliest ‘personal bests’ in London on record. 131 years on that means times to beat! Continue reading Cycle in South London like it’s 1885: the rides and times of a Victorian trailblazer (Part 1)

The Club champ and the WWII RAF Mutiny


“We won’t get anywhere like this lads. We need a chairman to see there’s one speaker at a time. Does anyone object if I do the job?”
No one did. And from that moment on Leading Aircraftman and Balham Cycling Club champion Arthur Attwood, would be forever associated with the 1946 Royal Air Force mutiny – a series of strikes over conditions and slow mobilisation that would sweep through 60 RAF stations in India and Ceylon and involve 50,000 men. Continue reading The Club champ and the WWII RAF Mutiny

Laying off the watercress and tucking-in to seakale: South London cyclists in the 1870s cycling boom


The year is 1878. Balham is home to a newly formed cycling club, cycling is becoming a popular sport and leisure activity and South London is home to some of the leading riders and bicycle makers of the day. Continue reading Laying off the watercress and tucking-in to seakale: South London cyclists in the 1870s cycling boom

It’s more than about the bike: 5 ways to date a Balham cyclist


Let’s play detectives. One photo is all you and I have to go on. The badge on the cycling jersey and the pin on the jacket lapel tell us the cyclist was a member of Balham Cycling Club, but can the photo tell us anything about the date of the club’s existence?

Family genealogists and photo collectors use a number of techniques to date a vintage photograph. Let’s have a go… Continue reading It’s more than about the bike: 5 ways to date a Balham cyclist