Cycling club celebrating 130 years - and they weren't even Banbury's first!

Anniversary ride to set off from Town Hall, just like inaugural ride in 1891

Friday, 16th July 2021, 6:22 am
Club members gather in 2016 for Banbury Star’s 125th anniversary ride. Their 130th year celebration will take place on Sunday, August 8

Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club are celebrating their 130th anniversary with a ride on Sunday, August 8.

Just as the original members did for their inaugural run, riders will set off from Banbury Town Hall - where the club has sponsored a floral display.

That very first event, on Friday, April 10, 1891 took them to to Middleton Cheney. The 2021 commemoration will instead finish at Hook Norton Brewery for refreshments.

And even though Star is 130 years old, it wasn’t the first cycling club in the town and shows Banbury was at the forefront of the bicycle craze from its very earliest days.

Star have a framed montage of photos with the title ‘Banbury Cyclists’ Club - Established 1875 - The oldest cycling club in the world’ and the Lord Mayor of Banbury is named as club president.

The two clubs co-existed for many years and never amalgamated, with the original seeming to fold around 1908.

Club president Paul Dean said: “Cycling has been part of Banbury’s heritage for many generations with the town being at the forefront of its development going back to the 1860s when the first bikes were produced locally followed by the formation of one of the first cycling clubs in the world right here.

“We in Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club are proud of our rich heritage and the part we have played and continue to play in the lives of so many townsfolk.

“Being able to help hundreds of self-isolating/shielding Banburians during the 2020 lockdown with our club members volunteering to become cycle couriers and deliver medical prescriptions was a real high point in our history.

“We aren’t resting on our laurels though and have exciting plans to be able to offer even more cycling opportunities with the introduction of coach-led family and women’s rides in partnership with Cherwell District Council plus a junior cycling scheme at a purpose-built local facility.”

These will be rather different from when Star’s formation was first announced, with Mr. J Phillips was secretary, Mr. J. Kilsby treasurer and Mr. E. Allit captain, along with Mr. E. Barden as bugler.

He would ride next to the club captain and use his bugle to call out signals to speed up, slow down, dismount, or ride single or double file.

The Star name was common to cycling clubs at that time and is believed to originate from the double star arrangement of the spokes on the first safety machines.

Being a prosperous town, the early membership comprised local dignitaries and influential people able to afford about £12 for a new bicycle. Although Coventry was already established in manufacturing, by 1869 the Vulcan bicycle was being made by Charles Lampitt at his Vulcan Foundry in Neithrop.

A detailed history of the club has been compiled by Roger Gollicker, with help from club president Paul Dean and research provided by George Hughes, a member of Banbury Historical Society.