Century Awheel” is sold out... but has now been scanned and is available
to read here...
If you are interested in
cycling or social history then this is a must. This 200 plus page book,
Century Awheel” covers the
first one hundred years of one of the oldest cycling clubs, the south London
based De Laune CC.
This is not just the history of a cycling club. The
fortunes of the De Laune CC over the past hundred years mirror the dramatic
changes in the social life of Britain which have taken place in that time; and
the collection of letters its members sent from the trenches of the first world
war forms a uniquely personal record of their horrific - and lighthearted -
experiences. The De Laune takes its name from a Kent landowner and
philanthropist of the nineteenth century. It was formed as a strictly all-male
club in 1889 when the Victorian cycling boom was getting under way - on roads
that could be identified by their dust, and at the Herne Hill track, where
quads, triplets and tandems rattled the boards.
The De Laune survived police raids on its racing men (and
the Great Grape-throwing Scandal of 1903) to tour, race and dance its way
through the ‘twenties and ‘thirties. After the Second World War it played a
major part in a nationwide cycling revival, mainly through the efforts of E. N.
Chippendale - the “Chip” to whom this book is dedicated. World-class riders
like the international star Alan Jackson put the De Laune in the top rank; and
pranksters like Jackson staged mud-battles on the river and hid bikes and
pyjamas in trees.
From the “penny-farthing” races and garden parties of
the 1890s to the discos and women’s road races of the 1980s, the social
historian and general reader - as well as the cycling enthusiast - will find
much of interest here.
Mike Rabbetts, a Wiltshireman, lived at Jarvis Brook, in East Sussex;
began cycling with Swindon and District Road Club in 1947 and then joined Lewes Wanderers C.C. He
was a BBC journalist joining them in 1965.