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johnh

45 years of cycle campaigning

I was wondering when it might be possible to claim 50 years as a cycle campaigner. The ‘Early London cycle campaign’ page suggests some involvement since at least the spring of 1975 – participating in a national rally and creating a report on, and guide to, cycling in the borough of Greenwich. I’m fairly sure there was an attempt at a local cycle rally in 1974 too, and in September of that year I got hold of ‘All Change to Bikes’ material (from British Cycling Bureau).

Perhaps the real start to the campaigning can be gleaned from a press release about setting up a cycling group offshoot of Greenwich Friends of the Earth, with a meeting held on 15th November 1976 at Charlton House, SE7. As good a date as any to count from, giving another 5 years to go!

The birth of London Cycling Campaign

The official launch of LCC in September 1978 is generally taken as its starting point, ignoring the year or so lead up. A little background on the latter follows after some images of Daily/London Cyclist magazine birthday celebrations.

Liaison Committee of London Cycling Groups

This fairly informal body was established autumn 1976. Here’s a list of the main local groups involved in the monthly meetings, from memory (may have missed some or got names a little wrong).

  • All Change to Bikes Westminster
  • Lambeth Campaign for Cycling Safety
  • West London CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club, now Cycling UK)
  • Kensington & Chelsea Friends of the Earth
  • Greenwich FoE/Cyclists Action Group – me
  • Islington Cyclists Action Group
  • Richmond ACB?
  • Tower Hamlets Wheelers?

After a year of productive LCLCG monthly meetings it was obvious that establishing a London-wide body made sense. I wrote a short paper on the idea, and on circulating this at a meeting discovered that others (Nick and Dick particularly, in my recollection) had thought through the issues further, including a suggested name.

The CTC rep strongly disagreed with having ‘Campaign’ in the organisation’s title and sadly took no further part, but London Cycling Campaign was duly born in a basic form in autumn 1977. It developed over the following months and started taking individual membership subs from spring 1978. Originally 50p I think, but 75p by the time of this form inserted in the first Daily Cyclist newsletter in December 1978.

An early LCC subscription form.

A total of 19 local groups were listed in the 4 page production.

The year also saw other key cycle campaign publications appearing. The Bicycle Planning Book was published in April by Friends of the Earth with Open Book, followed by FoE’s ‘Way Ahead – the bicycle warrior’s handbook‘ in June. And a third edition of ‘On Your Bike – a guide to cycling in London‘ arrived later in 1978, the first one that this blog author managed to acquire. Produced up to then by Kensington & Chelsea FoE, On Your Bike went on to become an important LCC publication.

Worth noting that the Bicycle Touring Club, later renamed Cyclists’ Touring Club, was founded in Harrogate August 1878, a neat hundred years earlier.

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johnh

Leaving London 20 years on

It’s 20 years since I had a “leaving London” bash in Forest Hill’s Wetherspoons, a converted old cinema. Loads of space and attractive decor, unlike some. A few weeks before the actual move, there was a good turn-out of friends, mainly connected with the LCC Sunday cycle rides crew.

Here’s a couple of photos.

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johnh

A moving experience in SE1

Buried away in the ‘About’ page is a mention of my involvement in SE1 Community Newspaper back in the ’80s. This was largely with the second series, which first appeared in December 1981 and ran for a little under 10 years, but I was also working on the paper in the final days of the first series to March 1981.

One of my photos from issue 2 of series two, in Southwark Archives/SE1 Stories

Some key players from the first series have dragged me in to provide a later perspective for an exhibition which a group of them are working on, based around photos used in the newspaper which have landed up in Southwark Archives – overall project title is ‘SE1 Stories’. Lambeth Archives have also got material from Blackfriars Photography Project, which had a major input into the paper too. Meetings have of course moved on to Zoom, which made my involvement easier.

While a few of the exhibition planning group still live in or close to the Waterloo/North Southwark area of SE1, others have moved on, from Malvern to Mexico. Talking of moving on, this news item from April 1980 (issue 52 series one) may well be the first article I wrote for the publication. I was part-time caretaker of Colombo St (Sports & Community) Centre at the time and did have some part in securing the office space there for Greenpeace and London Cycling Campaign.

The piece was spotted while cataloguing the SE1 photos, which had been quickly scanned and uploaded to Google Drive. This enables the group to work on them remotely, but as there are around 1800 images, about half of which were actually processed for the publication, it took a while to get them matched to their respective articles. This is the sort of work I quite enjoy, even if a handful of Drive images remain to be matched to an edition of SE1. Less surprising is that there are several hundred photos and drawings which do appear in the newspaper where the original photo is missing. Some won’t have come back from the printers, others weren’t filed or misfiled perhaps or, like a few of mine, were returned to the photographer.

There’s still more to do in sorting the exhibition content, design and construction, but it shouldn’t be long before we are ready to confirm dates and venues. Funding has been secured for an initial project focused around Blackfriars Road and Blackfriars Settlement, but there are ideas for further outings.

Meanwhile, check out SE1 Stories on Facebook, or the almost complete set of the newspaper put together by Chris Scales at Southwark Archive, which can be viewed on the Internet Archive.

UPDATE: See SE1 Stories own website for dates and venues for the exhibition, from late October 2021 into 2022 (and perhaps beyond).

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johnh

Not calling last orders

Nobody was wondering, but. That’s not me with a letter in The Guardian today – I moved out of London 19 years ago for a start. And I’m not educated enough to quote Hillaire Belloc’s warning: “when you have lost your Inns drown your empty selves for you will have lost the last of England”.

Letters snip, Editions

I did find out in the process how to get from a piece in the ‘Editions’ daily app to the version on the ‘live’ Guardian one, though. As long as Editions has a share icon showing, go via Firefox and you can then open the web page ‘in app’. Rather slow on my 5 year old tablet, but it works.

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johnh

Things to come & that have been

Couldn’t resist setting up a blog at johnhowes.uk, now to work out what it’s for.

Photo taken in garden, summer 2019.