BOLTON WAKES WEEK 1924: PART ONE
Charlie Chadwick set off for his cycling holiday - one with a difference - during Bolton Wakes Week, 1924. As was his habit, he kept a journal of his rides, with his own drawings included. A founding figure in the Rough Stuff Fellowship, Charlie's inter-war journals have been curated and edited by David Warner and published by The Veteran-Cycle Club, with support from the John Pinkerton Memorial Publishing Fund. Seven Day Cyclist is grateful to David for permission to use extracts and images from Charlie's wonderful journals. Please use the link below to visit the Veteran-Cycle Club website. Text by Charlie Chadwick, edited by David Warner; drawings by Charlie Chadwick; photos by Steve Dyster (note, the photos do not appear in the published books and have been added purely for use on www.sevendaycyclist.com).
Saturday, June 28 Scarborough
Certain obvious necessities [financial Ed.] have made it impossible for me to go on tour this year, so I accepted the next best, a cycling centre. My parents were going to Scarborough on holiday for the week, so I accepted an invitation to stay with them. At the same time father decided to go by motorcycle, and accompany me there. It seems a queer combination, and for my part an undesirable one, for I hate motorcycles. But his is only a small one – he calls it a two-stroke – and at the best of times he is not a speedy rider, so things did not pan out so bad. Besides this, I thought, it may open his eyes to real cycling, and bring me much nearer to that new lightweight! I started twenty minutes ahead of the motor-bike. Crowds of people were making for the railway station, and some cyclists were about as I rode along Blackburn road. One thing I noticed was the immense amount of luggage that people trundled away with them. They might be going for months! All that I needed for the whole week was a spare shirt, a pair of stockings and three maps to cover the whole week’s wanderings! Not even a hat or cap, a cape being plenty of protection against what weather we may have. People were talking gloomily about the awful time they would have if it rains. What were they to do? The answer is obvious. Just like they do in Wigan, let it! There have been times when I have found as much enjoyment in a day in the rain, as a day in sunshine, and I always enjoy it. Besides, it clears the motors away, puts the dust down, and freshens the countryside. What more can one wish for? Anyway, to get on with the washing.
The gradient pulled me out of the saddle at Dunscar, but only for a few yards, and I immediately started the steady drag for nearly 1,000 feet and three miles to just above Darwen. Then the long descent through the roughly paved streets which were crowded with early morning workers. Between here and Blackburn the m/c caught me up, and we proceeded together into the town. I was in front and took the road for Whalley, but Pa mistook it and joined the Accrington road. I could not catch him, and had the chagrin of seeing him disappear up a hill. I followed in desperation, and to my joy found him stopped near the top with the drive belt broken. A fortunate misfortune! Half an hour later we were on the right road, and we made good progress through Wilpshire to Langho. There was a fine view of the lower Ribble valley and Pendle Hill from here, and the going was remarkably easy, for a strong wind pushed us along.
The long drop into Whalley with its narrow streets, and the ancient Abbey on the left, then four pleasant, level miles, and we stopped at the Craven Heifer at Clitheroe for a snack. Half an hour later we were on the road again, an undulating, narrow, winding road, pleasant to me, but a source of fright for the m/c. He would far rather have a good straight wide road. Although it was hilly, I only had to walk twice. Gisburn, an ideal ancient Northern village was passed, and another beautiful eleven miles brought us to Skipton. Threading the narrow streets, we took the uphill road over Skipton Moor, and slid into Wharfedale at Addingham. The resultant valley run through the notorious resorts of Ilkley and Otley were motor infested, and not very pretty. In Otley, the m/c had an argument with a milk float, but no damage was done, and we proceeded blithely along. The country opened out again, and the ride along Wharfedale became grand. Many old-world buildings we saw, mostly stone with gabled roofs and mullioned windows. I walk up Harewood Bank, with the fragment of a castle on my right, a half shattered shell of a tower or keep, square in shape, to Harewood village. The main gateway of Harewood Hall faces the fork roads here, but the Hall is hidden from sight by a bend in the approach. Came a straight run for two miles to an Inn, where Pa ordered a slap-up lunch. Whilst having a wash, we beheld a gigantic smash of crockery, such as would have delighted the heart of a youngster. Lunch was a swell affair with a swell price, but I did full justice to it; it was ‘buck-shee’ to me! From the window we had a fine view of Wharfedale and the brown hills beyond.
Continuing, we dropped easily to the valley at Collingham, then Wetherby, and on to the York road by the racecourse. Now came some level easy miles to Bilton, where I picked up a York cyclist. At Long Marston, it started to rain, so after giving it long enough to settle in, I put my cape on, and in this way we rode into York. Had I been alone, or with Tom, we should have stayed here to explore the many interests of the famous old city, but Pa would not stop, and we had to see all we could from the road. Passing under Micklegate Bar, we entered the walled city, crossed the Ouse, and came to the fine old Minster. We slowly encircled the great pile, then tore ourselves away, and passed out of York city by the quaint, famous Bootham Bar. Now came six dead-level weary miles along Monks Stray, but afterwards, when the Plain of York was crossed, and the low hills again became prominent, the scenery reached a high standard. Barton Hill, Whitwell Hill, from the summit of which I got a glimpse of the towers of Castle Howard, and the gleaming dome of the mausoleum nearby. Then a sharp descent into narrow, gorgeous Ryedale, a climb out and a long switchback down again, and soon we came to New Malton.
The crowded narrow streets were soon passed, and two miles further along, we stopped at a cottage for lunch or tea. Three members of the North Lancashire DA were there from Nelson, on tour, but we left before them. Riding at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, we ran through Scagglethorpe, then turned for Knapton. A level crossing held us up, and when Pa tried to remount the m/c, it ran away with him. He let it go on alone, and after a short career, it turned over in a bank, and died out with a puff of blue smoke. I sat down and roared with laughter at this comical episode. Some little damage was done, and an hour was wasted in putting it roadworthy again. Our road led us across the broad valley to Ebberston, then wound about alluringly as we approached the hills. Rain had long ceased now, a good run through pretty, undulating country followed via Brompton and West Ayton, where, on a low rounded mound, the scanty ruins of Ayton Castle stood. From East Ayton, a steady climb brought us to the summit of Seamer Moor, and then a rush downhill for two miles brought us to our destination, Scarborough. I had some difficulty to find our lodgings – Mrs Chapman, 88 St Leonards, Moorland Road, which I reached at 7.15. All day we had experienced a strong wind behind us, which made the ride quite easy for me. I covered 135 miles, and we were on the road thirteen and a half hours, but the actual riding time was under eleven hours, so a good pace was maintained throughout. The m/c cost us one and a half hours, whilst my machine took about two minutes to adjust a slack chain. Yet Pa said we were lucky! I wonder what it is to be unlucky with a motor cycle! [For background information, Charlie’s younger brother Norman, and their Mother, must have travelled to Scarborough by train, as they appear in the narrative later, plus Norman also obviously has a motor bike licence – Ed] 135 miles
(More from Charlie Chadwick coming soon.)