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Classic Lightweights UK
Reminiscences 
 

Metro Cycle Racing Club

Author Brian Ward 
 
I must immediately explain that the Metro Cycle Racing Club was in existence before the cycle shop of the same name.   I founded the club originally in 1951 while still at Shooters Hill School at age 14.  In early 1952 I created the name Metro CRC not from any frame manufacturer but on two fronts. 

We were mad about anything bikewise connected with "the Continent" and we needed a short name to be easily seen on our racing jerseys.  I often passed the Metro Coal & Coke Company in the Old Kent Road and made the connection with the Paris Metro underground!  Sounds weird but true.   The club meetings were held initially at the Crossways Hotel, Eltham, and then the Conservative Club, Rochester Way, Kidbrooke. 

At the end of 1952 the club joined the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC), and we held our meetings in a shed in the garden of Joe James in Holbourne Rd, Kidbrooke.  The shops we frequented were Holmes of Welling, Excel at Woolwich and Claude Butler, Lewisham.

The club and I had our first League race in 1953, below is an image of me taking part in this race.

Metro 1 Reminiscences Brian Ward
Photo of me age 15. Look close you will just see "Metro" below the Campag gear levers.
 (It was a Holmes frame with the Metro club name of which we were so proud)

I supplemented my pocket money durin 1954 and 1955 working on Saturdays at Youngs shop, 290 Lee High Road, assembling bikes and repairing punctured tubs.  From memory the frames sold then were Youngs own and imported specials like Arbos, Frejus, and Fiorrelli.

We made our connection with Sam Curtis at Meridian Cycles in 1955 til 1958 as most of us lived around the Greenwich/Blackheath area and so began holding our meetings in the cellar below the shop.   Sam started to take us to races in his little Thames van, (he was mainly in the building business) and he then introduced us to Pete Benedict and the Forest Hill shop. I recall that Harry and Phil built the Grandini frames for Pete and ?Harry? had small workshop behind the High Street in Gillingham near Chatham.  I often helped in both shops on Saturdays and the coffee shop at Forest Hill was originally named Coppi Carpano after the Italian master and team, but by mid 1960 it was advertised as Coffee-Carpano, Cafe des Sports.

Pete used the Metro name as a brand after the Club had been well established.  Incidentally, neither the club or I received any payment!!

Further evidence of the club name can be seen in the 'Shield' photo (below). 1952 Metro name on Union Jack and cyclist painted by me.

Metro 2 Reminiscences club shield
  Early members of the Metro with club shield, standing: left Tom Sansom, right Brian Ward
 Sitting: left a young David Jenkins (nickname Tambo as he later won the raffle at Earls Court Cycle show for the bike ridden by Tour of Britain winner Eugene Tambourlini in 1954), centre Albert (Gabby) Hayes, right Joey James.

Metro 3 Reminiscences League certificate
Brian's Certificate of Membership to
'The League'

John Rawlinson adds the following:

I joined the ‘Metro Cycle Racing Club’ in about 1962/3 moving from the ‘Fountain Cycling Club’. I remember meeting in the cellar beneath the Forest Hill shop and buying a ‘Metro’ frame. Could this be the ‘Thames van’ referred to above?  This black and white picture was taken at Crystal Palace with ’Russell’ (driver-surname unknown but see riders in Gallery at bottom of the page) centre, myself and two other Metro members.

metro4-rem

This colour picture was, I think, taken at Longfield, Kent before a road race. I can’t remember the name of the blonde chap with me, only that he went rather quicker than I did! In order to ’get to events’ I bought a Lambretta which, I’m afraid, along with other 60’s ‘distractions’, led to a sudden decline in my cycling.

metro5-rem

Redescovering the sport in my late twenties I have been cycling in some shape or form ever since, Surrey League, Crystal Palace, Time Trials etc. with the Redmon CC. I have enjoyed riding in Majorca, France (watching the Tour), Portugal, Spain and latterly with the ’Over The Hill Gang’ in Surrey. For a couple of years my company sponsored professional roadman Steve Sefton and even had a full team in the 1987 Tour of Britain. My racing performances peaked at ‘mediocre’ but in terms of satisfaction, recreation and sheer pleasure cycling has given me much.
METRO GALLERY - late 1950's supplied by Brian Redfern

metro6-rem
Pete Russell racing in Metro kit

Metro 7 Reminiscences
 Vernon Williams on his Grandini bike which must have been an early model.
 The cyclist in the background is Joey James who was also a Metro member but is riding in another club’s jersey in this photo!


Metro 8 rem
This photo is of  Ken “Spike” Jacobs with cap and Trevor Cunnington both in Metro jerseys
at the back of the field at the start of a race probably somewhere in Kent.

Metro 9 rem
This photo shows Brian Ward and Joey James both in Metro jerseys


More on racing in the 50's to come from Brian shortly - watch this space!