Gazette Articles

Anerley’s Bank Olleydays!

It might be of interest to you to learn a bit more about the history behind some of Anerley’s magnificent and valuable trophies.

Last month, inspired by a photo that Capt. Mark had found on the internet, I wrote an item about the Club’s Appletree Trophy. However our most valuable trophy was the Carwardine Cup which was awarded to the winner of a 100 mile race held annually at Crystal Palace cycle track.
This cup was donated to our club in 1895 by a Vice  President whose name was surprisingly – Carwardine!  It was not just a cup but a huge cup, valued at the enormous sum for those days, of 300 guineas. With 120 years of inflation, in today’s money that is equivalent to over £50,000! And huge indeed it was, standing 4 foot 10 inches tall, and made from 650 ozs of silver, with ornamentation of solid gold.

The huge Carwardine Cup, centre stage between 2 seated minders!

The tradition in those far off days was that if a person won a trophy three times they could keep it in perpetuity. Unfortunately for Anerley B.C, the trophy was won by a crack racer from the Bath Road Club in 1896, and for his third time in 1900.  So Anerley B.C. had to say goodbye to its Carwardine Cup, and hence no present day photo to show you!

However I found an interesting snippet, which appeared in a sporting almanac which listed cycling records in the year 1902.

Of course you might wonder how our G.A. could win the Carwardine cup in 1902, when a Bath Road champion had  already, as a result of his three wins, become the deserving owner in perpetuity in 1900.  Well it was not as a result of the Bath Road C.C. rider being overcome by generosity. But it was as a result of the extreme generosity of  Anerley’s Vice President Carwardine.  Our club, having lost the original, magnificent Carwardine Cup after only six years, our benefactor was kind enough (and obviously wealthy enough!) to donate a second Carwardine Cup. Of this our club record says:

“To replace the lost cup Mr Carwardine gave a smaller, but gold one. For the first and second race for this in 1901 – 1902 our G.A. Olley proved the winner, and in 1902 we also provided the second man , F.A.Daymond, who had been third the year before.
 1902 win was on Whit Monday and a newspaper reporter commented – “of course he won, was it not a Bank – Olley – Day?”  

The amusing comment by the news reporter was a reflection of how dominant G.A. was, being one of the greatest long distance cyclist of his times. This dominance continued over several years. For example in 1907 he set the record for 1,000 miles, completed in 4 days 9hr 3mins. 

So Anerley’s Bank Olley – Day racing man was accumulating a collection of the top cycling world’s trophies, which takes me back to the photo that Capt Mark found.

Surely, the little trophy taking pride of place (that I have ringed) is the replacement, gold, Carwardine Cup that Olley won for the first time in 1902?

But the records for which Olley was to be best remembered were still to come. So read on!

Olley poses to promote the New Hudson J.O.G bicycle

G.A’s most famous achievements were setting the record for the Lands End to John O’Groats ride, twice.  First in 1903 and then reducing his first record by 15 hours in 1905 with a remarkable time of 3 days, 5 hrs and 20 minutes!
The photo above, and signed by him, appears in a very interesting booklet produced by the New Hudson Cycle Co.  They supplied his bikes and were quick to capitalise on Olley’s achievement by adding a replica J.O.G model to their range of bicycles.  The booklet, whilst being promotional material for the new J.O.G model bike, is a fascinating record of how such record breaking rides were organised and conducted.
This booklet is entitled ” Souvenir of Olley’s Great Ride” and details how his record breaking ride started at the Land’s End Hotel on Tuesday 18 July 1905, at 8.00 am.  The plan was for him to ride for 36 hours without sleep, and to quote ” Small wonder then, that about 2 o’ clock on Wednesday morning the rider began to feel almost unconquerably drowsy.” At this point Olley’s front tyre punctures and he has to wait for 15 minutes until a replacement bike arrives.  Then, ignoring his tiredness, he sets off again and is 13 minutes behind schedule when he arrives at Gloucester on Wednesday morning, 19 hours and 5 minutes after leaving Land’s End. On and on he continues, Kidderminster at 274 miles, Warrington 368 miles, “until at 8.30 in the evening Kendal (442 3/4 miles) was reached, and the first official stop for much needed sleep was made”. However, prior to this, the exhausted Olley had managed to  sneak in a 15 minute cat nap in a field of horses!  See below.

Such were the times, events, challenges and men of Anerley B.C in it’s golden era.