Polytechnic Cycling Club

Harry Edgar Ryan and Thomas Glasson Lance cycling
Harry Edgar Ryan and Thomas Glasson Lance, Olympic gold medallists at the 1920 Antwerp Games

In 1878 a group of boys asked Quintin Hogg if they could learn to cycle. Hogg provided the first bicycles and a club was formed, called the Ian Bicycling Club after Hogg’s baby son Ian. The name was later changed to the Hanover Club and in 1885 it became the Polytechnic Cycling Club, destined to be the largest and most successful in the country.

At the 1908 London Olympics, the Poly’s Charles Henry Bartlett won gold in the 100km race, despite several obstacles. The track itself was underwater and rain was still falling heavily for the first half hour of the race, causing the reigning world champion to withdraw. Bartlett, the youngest of the finalists, fell and damaged his bike. He ran for a replacement but was ordered back to the scene of his fall. Now a lap behind, Bartlett not only caught up with the rest of the cyclists but was able to mount a sprint finish, winning by two lengths.

The Poly Cycling Club was particularly successful in Olympic tandem cycling events – Sidney F Bailey and Colin Brooks achieved bronze in 1908, while Harry Edgar Ryan and Thomas Glasson Lance won gold in 1920 (Harry Ryan also winning bronze in the individual 1,000m sprint). Ernest Chambers of the Poly also won silver in the tandem races at the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Olympiads, the latter with his brother Stanley.


Find out more in our poster on the Polytechnic Cycling Club (PDF).