THE ORIGIN OF BARTON’S CYCLING CLUB(S)
This article is written to inform the reader about a feature of life in the town over 100 years ago, and also to ask for help. I have been a member of Barton Wheelers since 1984, when it was still called Barton and District Wheelers, and have always believed that it was founded in the 1930s. While working recently on my previously reported Elswick-Hopper research at Scunthorpe Central Library, I discovered that the club was founded much earlier than that. There is a wonderful source of local history on the top floor of the library, where microfilm copies are kept of the Lincolnshire Star and the Stamford Mercury newspapers. The library staff are extremely helpful but be warned that it is quite a tedious task to trawl through just a single year, and there is a natural tendency to get sidetracked! I had already established that the first commercial bicycle was made in Barton, by Hopper, in 1890 and that it was a cross frame model called the Ajax. While searching through the Star of 1891 I found an unavoidable sidetrack with the mention of not one, but two Barton cycling clubs: In the issue dated 17th January 1891 there was a report of a meeting, held the previous Wednesday night at the White Swan, of the ‘Barton Wheelers Cycling Club’. Chaired by none other than Mr F Hopper, the purpose was to arrange the runs for the coming season; the first run was to be on 27th March to Brocklesby. Later in the year is a report of a run to Winterton to meet up with the Scunthorpe and Ashby Clubs for a race meeting (presumably at the grass track on the Showground?). ‘Much interest was taken in the Bicycle Handicap by the Bartonians, seeing that all the heats were won by Mr Hopper’s celebrated Ajax machines.’ Then, in the edition dated 14th March is a report of an AGM held in Mr Hopper’s showroom (on Brigg Road adjacent to John Keal’s shop), of the Barton and District Cycling Club, chaired by Rev. Charles Moor. The club Captain at that time was H W Ball, the notable Barton printer and historian.