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  • Cycling Club Life in 1950s England

  • Cycling Club Life in 1950s England

  • Cycling Club Life in 1950s England

The Northwood Wheelers

This website documents a sadly now defunct cycling club, the Northwood Wheelers. My father, David Saunders, was a member of the Northwood Wheelers from the late 1940s through to 1955, when adult life "distracted" him from cycling. A large part of this site consists of his cycling diaries (Open Roads) written at that time, and which he has annotated with photographs and editorial comments. You can reach this material via the menu at the top of the website.

Since the original incarnation of these web pages a couple of years ago, I have had emails and phone calls from former members of the Northwood Wheelers. I hope that this new version will encourage others to do the same. 

The tales of cycling presented here are the reason I took up cycling myself, albeit rather late in life (I too got diverted by student life). Not for me the motivation of the exploits of professional cyclists - rather, I was fired by the exploits of my father and his cycling pals, particularly his cycle tour to Scotland with Brian at the tender age of 16, the infamous Cheddar Gorge expedition, and possibly the best example of why you need to pay attention to the chain tension on a fixed gear bike.

Robert Saunders December 2008

History of the Club

In late 1947 Tom Simpson, Gordon (Boff - short for boffin) Empson and brothers Roy & Colin Turner were asked to assist with running the cycling section of The Northwood Boy’s Club. Colin can’t remember if any others were involved at this time. None of us had any experience of running a club, as none of us had ever been a member of a cycling club before.  A rather acrimonious break from the Boy’s Club ensued, and in 1948 we formed the Northwood Wheelers.

We soon came to the notice of a local resident, Mr. Fred Reynolds. Fred was a council member of the Road Time Trials Council, the then governing body of time trials in the UK. He helped us get the club on a proper footing. Jack Sharp was another who helped us in the early days - he later became president.

My memories of the early days are rather vague as unlike David I did not keep a diary. Tom Simpson worked with Stan Boyes, a cyclist/tricyclist of long standing. In my memories of the club he was always there, so I am sure got involved at an early stage.


The website has scans of the old Northwood Wheelers newsletters - access them via the menu link at the top of the screen. Some of these are from my father's archive, while some are from Colin Turner, one of the Northwood Wheelers’ founding members, who contacted me in December 2013, and sent in a commentary around the history of the club. He promised to send me a stack of old club newsletters, which arrived in January 2014. 

They are fairly fragile documents, with paper in rather good condition, but with rusted staples and loose pages, so I'm being very gentle with them, as I scan them. For each issue, I've presented a discussion of each issue, along with a gallery of the scans of the individual pages.

It will take a while to complete this section of the website, but I think the newsletters offer a nice insight into the life and times of a 1950s cycling club.

Open Roads

The core of the website's material is derived from the old cycling diaries kept by David Saunders, and orgnanised and annotated after his retirement.

Open Roads described the growing involvement of a young man in the workings and exploits of a cycling club, often in extreme detail - for example the 'outrageous' price of dinner, or beer!