Polytechnic Cycling Club

Topic: Clubs and Societies
Subject: N/a
Status: Institute Member
Time period: 1940s; 1950s; 1960s; 1970s

The Polytechnic Cycling Club was founded c.1878 and took the name Ian Bicycling Club after Quintin Hogg's second son who was then a baby.  The first runs were mainly to Richmond and Mortlake but they also occasionally went as far as the New Forest.

When the Poly moved to Regent Street the club became the Hanover Bicycle Club, taking its name from its former home in Hanover Street, and had 29 members.  In 1885 the name Polytechnic Cycling Club was adopted.  The Club grew in popularity and some of its members were very successful.  David Rickets won a team bronze medal at the 1948 Olympics.  Gradually over time the increase in cars on the road impacted on the popularity of the club.

Many of the clubs and societies organised socials.  These ranged from whist drives and garden parties to dances in the Portland Hall at Little Titchfield Street.  They gave the various different clubs a chance to mix.

In these excerpts members of the Polytechnic Cycling Club discusses their reasons for joining and the social side of the club.

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PCC: I joined the club because I was interested in cycling and I was debating whether I should join the club.  I used to go to Herne Hill and the top club there performing was always the Poly, they had the best riders.  I mean there were some good riders from other clubs, but they are the cream and I thought I’m joining that and in fact I never ever rode on the track myself at all, but I lived in Fulham and I worked in Finsbury Park, so the poly was like halfway between.  It was ideal, on a club night I could get halfway home and spend the evening there.  Also of course in the cycling magazine they advertised and Jimmy Dicks who was the secretary at the time put an advert in, so I wrote to him and that was in 1946.

I: Did you join in the social side of the -
PCC1: Oh yes! Oh yes! Wonderful. Very much so. 
PCC2: Our favourite saying is, roll on the social side!
I: Was that different from the other clubs that you knew?
PCC1: Oh the other cycling clubs you mean?
I: Yes. 
PCC1: Well the Poly was something totally different, it was so big and so extensive and so many classes, that I don’t think any other cycling clubs, certainly not West London, came anywhere near it. Once you got involved in the social side, that made the winter really worthwhile, because we used to come up to the socials that Winter ran, in the reading month particularly, and of course then we got to the dances in Little Titchfield Street where, I mean that was more of an open dance, the pub people used to come in there and meet different girls and so forth. We were in London with the girls in the cycling club.
PCC2: That’s the point, you see there was the gentlemen’s side and there was the ladies’ side. 
I: Yes. 
PCC3: And I think there were five marriages -
PCC1: Well I was going to bring that point up actually. 
PCC3: - with the Poly ladies.

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