A History Of Leamington C&AC
Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club was formed in September 1928. Previously it was separate cycling and harriers clubs which had both been active since the late 19th century.
The Courier Library archives indicate the existence of Leamington Harriers in 1868. This was dissolved in 1875 due to “doubts as to the ‘bona fide’ running of some members” (professionals !). It was reconstituted with 26 ordinary members and 10 honorary members as Leamington Athletic Club. It was also “with a much improved status in the Amateur Athletic World”. The Courier also records that “Bicycling was seen as a fine means of taking exercise and pleasure combined”.
Little recorded information is available from the period prior to the turn of the century. Various Amateur Athletic Sports and Bicycle Races did take place on the Old Cricket Field in Avenue Road and at Leamington Town Football Club at Old Warwick Road in the period to 1898. In 1881 “the 100 yards saw a dead heat between Baxter of Rugby FC and Wright of Alcester BC in 9¾ secs. It was run again and there was a dead heat in 10¹/? secs. Baxter won at the third attempt.”
We also know that in May 1883 the Courier recorded “a very large influx of excursionists to Leamington on Whit Monday, and though the weather was a little unfavourable, being showery, the annual bicycle meet and fete at the Jephson Gardens was not unenjoyable. The Midland Bicyclists fell in order of procession and generally exhibited “good form”, by way of steadiness and dressing, following the order to mount having been given on the bugle and their leaving by way of Holly Walk”.
“In 1905 Leamington Athletics Club promoted the first of a series of cross-country runs at their headquarters at the Coach and Horses. The course of seven miles was via Offchurch and Cubbington. The fastest man was ex Midland Champion W B Law in 40minutes 32 secs.”
The Club is Formed
At some time prior to 1928 the Bicycle Club became the Leamington Cycling Club. The Courier reported on 28th September 1928 that “a resolution to amalgamate the Cycling Club and the Athletic Club was discussed and passed at the preceding Friday’s meeting of the Athletic Club held at the Bath Hotel”. Mr W H Wallsgrove, Treasurer, had told the meeting that “years ago the Athletic Club had embraced both cycling and running but since the War the cyclists had gone one way and the runners another”.
Being chairman of the CC and treasurer of the AC he thought the time was now ripe for the amalgamation. Each Club would appoint a representative committee of older members who would act as a sort of House of Lords. Any ideas for the progress of either section would then be submitted to a joint management committee of experienced members.
Both associations are recorded to have staged events in the years leading up to the First World War. The joint club hosted National and International X-Country Championships on the Newbold Farm Estate between the wars. This was followed by the first National XC after the 2nd war on the 307 acres purchased by WDC. This later became Newbold Comyn. The Club also promoted the 1935 Jubilee Sports when 6000 converged on Victoria Park. Victoria Park of course still sees cycle racing and race walking.
Cross Country Runner
Ted Clifford was one of the founder members of the Leamington Cycling & Athletics Club, as the local harriers and cycling clubs joined together at its formation in 1928. Ted was General Secretary from 1938 – 1957. He was made a Life Member in 1955 and was Club President for the 29 years from 1960 – 1989. Originally joining as a cyclist he rapidly established a reputation in both sports. He became a well-known and well respected personality within both cycling and athletics circles. This was locally and nationally through his serving the two sports for many years as a Timekeeper at many events.
Ted & Doris Clifford
Ted became President of the Warwickshire AAA and was honoured as a Life Vice President of both Midland Counties Amateur Athletics and Midland Counties Cycling Associations. He was Team manager for Warwickshire AAA for 21 years and received a certificate commemorating his 60 years’ membership of that Association.
Doris Clifford had also played a very active role in both sections of the Club. She held the position of President of the Warwickshire Womens AAA during the years that this was a separate association. The Ted and Doris trophy was first presented in 1992 to commemorate and applaud the invaluable service given to our Club in particular, and the two sports in general, by them both.
It was therefore entirely appropriate when Ted, being keen to maintain the unity of the Club, presented the Clock Trophy as the award for the event which combines the skills of both sections of our Club, the annual Ted & Doris Duathlon held in August. Ted encouraged all members of the Club to participate in this two part cycling and road running event. It was inaugurated to foster and develop contacts between the two sections and give an opportunity for each to appreciate the other’s skills.