Up the Charlotteville!!

After a great 108km ride this morning/afternoon I thought I wouldn´t bother readers with more riding photos, instead I remembered having an old racing programme stashed away somewhere. I managed to find it, and here we go.

Marguerite Wilson was one of the three great women cyclists Britain can be proud of, the other two being Eileen Sheridan and the uncomparable Beryl Burton. Wilson has a wikipedia article, and two short films of her can be watched online in the WPA film library, so I won´t bother with biographical detail.

What I have here are some scans from a racing programme of a race meeting held at Guildford, UK, in 1940. Here´s the front cover:

The first owner of the programme must have been a great fan of Marguerite Wilson´s (as is the writer of these lines). The programme hasn´t very many pages, still he noted where he could find the article on Wilson. Perhaps not so much a man of the pen as a man of the spoke.

The programme of course also contains a number of great and not so great advertisements. So, to heighten suspense, here´s one with a Beeston Humber cycle, and all of it more than half a year into World War II, remember.

But here she is:

The short description of Marguerite Wilson´s appearance at Guildford – no racing, just lapping honour. So now we know that she had a quiet day on June 19th, 1940.

The best thing about the programme, though, is that inside I found two autographed portraits by Wilson. On this one you need to look closely to see that she wrote “With best wishes from Marguerite” in the lower right hand corner. Watch the “g” in “Marguerite”: I think it proves that the second photograph was also autographed by her. But first, here´s what it says on the back of the portrait:

Quite an exploit. I really don´t care to find out how many kilometers 29 miles are, it would probably give me the creeps.

And here´s the other photo, with what I believe to be Wilson´s telltale “g”:

This snap is really wonderful as you can see many details of her bicycle. If we believe what it says on p. 12 of the programme, it must be a Claud Butler. It could well be as Butler was a great supporter of derailleur geared cycles, and this one proudly sports a Cyclo gear. Cyclo, originally French, had opened a dependency in Britain so an all British version was available at the time.

The next thing you can see clearly are the Resilion Cantilever brakes, a very British affair. Effective enough, they were beasts to set up – I have two bikes equipped with them. Spares are hard to come by today, especially brake blocks.

Wilson´s crank set seems to be a lowly cottered, steel Williams 34, judging from chainwheel “design”. Looking at old catalogues you will be able to see that 34s were widely used, despite the fact the the French had been using Stronglight square taper axle alloy cranksets for years.

I can´t see if she still used wood rims, they would have been outdated in 1939, but is there an alloy sparkle anywhere? There definitively is a lamp bracket on Wilson´s bike´s front fork. It seems a bit bent to me. Also note the feeder bottles on the handlebars, very common in the thirties.

The man in the snap also seems to be a big fan of Wilson´s – he´s taking to the air in his excitement. Wilson herself is less than amused, it seems, biting into a sponge in desperation. Anyway, here´s the rear of this photo:

The Monckton was another cycling club, and with that vital piece of info I´ll sign off for today. Several days, possibly, will be sidetracked by having to earn some money.

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One Comment

  1. Posted August 13, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry, what was that? Text not complete? Can you please get back to me or correct the text of your comment? Thanks.

One Trackback

  1. By Wonder Wheels by Eileen Sheridan | Ianto Ware on August 12, 2014 at 9:57 am

    […] on Wilson is hard to find. There’s an article here and a short newsreel describing her as a ‘receptionist’ up on the British Pathé […]

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