Essex Roads Cycling Club was formed in March 1903 in Walthamstow, Essex with new members sought in the CLUBS AND INSTITUTIONS DIRECTORY of the WALTHAMSTOW, LEYTON AND CHINGFORD GUARDIAN. Despite vying for the attention of early Edwardians with activities such as chess, shooting and angling, 40 ‘members and friends’ attended the club’s first annual dinner at the Manchester Hotel, Aldersgate Street, London in December 1903. Club president, Mr A. E. Bidmead’s wish that this ‘genuine Road Club’ of ‘active cyclists’ would continue to grow was to become a reality with 70 in attendance at the dinner a year later.
The Walthamstow, Leyton and Chingford Guardian, reporting on the 1904 dinner, put the early success of the club down to the fact ‘that it [was] not just a summer club, but continues its runs right through the winter seasons’. Indeed pre-war, ERCC attracted some first class racing men. Most notable of many fastest times and team wins was the Bath Road Club 100 miles, the Beaumont 100 miles in 1913 and the Eastern Counties 100 miles in 1914. The club also won the team race in these events which were all first class events. Harold Peters was our leading rider at this period.
In 1909 Bert Harvey joined the Club. He performed successfully at all distances, up to and including 12 hours. With Alf West he held Eastern Counties records on a tandem. He continued racing until the middle 1920’s. He was president of the Club for 30 years, until he died in 1958. He was a first class time keeper, for both club and open events. He was affectionately known as Dad by all Eastern roads clubmen and women.
When the Club regrouped after the First World War it had many successes on single, tandem and tricycle. Two great performers were Fred Fisher and Bob Beckett. Both held national and local records.
A great performer on single bicycle was Stan Artaud, who many regard as the greatest stylist of all time. He had many open successes, mainly at 50 miles.
The Club’s membership was drawn mainly from north-east London but from 1927 had a strong contingent from the Chelmsford area. Two great riders from this area were the Rugman brothers, both of whom held the Club championship as well as winning open events.
The 1930’s were on the lean side from a racing point of view, but we won some open events and some good performances were put up.
In 1936 the club promoted an open 12 hour event and this continued annually until the outbreak of the war. The most famous of the winners were Stan Butler of the Norwood Paragon and Vic Gibbons of the Brentwood R.C. The Club was revived after the War was ended and we had an influx of members from the New Era C.C. which had disbanded. they also brought their trophies along.
To celebrate the Club’s 50th year a wooden bench and commemorative brass plaque were purchased. The plaque on a new bench can still be seen at The Green on the Epping Road in Woodford Green.
The Club was numerically strong in the 1950’s and had some useful performers, but in the early 1960’s, for various reasons, fell on bad times and there was little activity after 1964.
In 1968 an old members section was formed and this has been successful. They meet regularly and have quarterly luncheons to which all members are welcome to attend. A number of the members have over 40 years membership.
In 1972 racing activities were firmly re-established in the Billericay and Brentwood area, much of the work carried out by Bernie Davis. The new racing section had a healthy contingent of the young members. Three youngsters:- John Burrell, Mark Lincoln and Robert Hall all won the local heat of the National Juvenille 10 mile Championship.
1970s & 80s
In the late 1970’s the Club accepted members from the disbanded Brentwood Road Club, including Vic Gibbons who was British Best All Rounder in the early fifties. Vic continued to set National Veterans age records.
The Club went through a strong period in the early eighties. The most successful member was Sue Fenwick who in 1983 won the Ladies National 100 mile Championship and went on to finish second in the Ladies Best All Rounder competition.
In 1984 Reg Smith, together with Steve Cruse of the Maldon & District CC, set National Competition record in the newly established category of the 24 hour tandem bicycle. The following year Reg paired up with fellow Clubman Gordon Irons to set the National record at 12 hours tandem bicycle.
The 21st Century
Over the course of four years Gwen Cook and Lea Marshall set three national records on the tandem. Starting with the 10 mile distance in 2008, their time of 20:01 stood for five years before being beaten by just five seconds in 2013 by Paralympians Lora Turnham and Fiona Duncan of Ythan CC.
Their times of 51:33 in the 25 mile discipline and 4:04:15 in the 100 mile in 2010 and 2011 respectively, remain the benchmark over a decade later.
The club has the use of a club hut at Ugley which is used as a base for club-rides, reliability trials, time trials, social events and the club youth tour.
The club is going as strong as ever with about 250 members, it continues to participate in all branches of the sport, club rides, racing, coaching, winter training, time trials Go-Rides for juniors and much more. Club members Sue Triplow and Colin Ward represent the club at national level in time trials. Come along and join us!