Cyclists Special

August 20, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Cycling, Eating and Drinking, Fashion, Travel | 2 Comments
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Cyclists Special 1

I’m getting in the holiday spirit by watching a selection of glorious 1950s British Transport Films. These were made to promote travel by train for business and pleasure and are as much evocative travelogues as they are effective advertisements.

West Country Journey (1953) is full of stunning colour images of the people, towns, villages and countryside of Devon and Cornwall, and features children who are very FF in their dress and in their enthusiasm for clambering around rocky coves. Cyclists Special (1955) meanwhile offers up a dazzling array of middle-aged gents in plus fours and woollen socks, alongside more glamorous young women in pedal pushers and pillarbox red lipstick.

Cyclists in plus fours

The film follows a weekend excursion of the Cyclist Touring Club who ‘rediscover their common humanity’ as they catch trains from the suburbs of London out to Rugby, an apparent gateway to bucolic riches: ‘wooded Warwickshire, sturdy Leicestershire [and] historic Northamptonshire’.

Looking at mapsPubs, castles and battlefields are all on the touring agenda, with plenty of stops for refreshment – all sensible cyclists know that regular snacks are necessary to ‘avoid a touch of the bonk’ (becoming ‘distressingly fatigued’).


The filmmakers boast proudly of the special efforts British
Railways makes for cyclists including a dedicated cycle ‘wagon’ with carefully designed storage racks, and the special trains for cycle excursions such as these. I would say that 1955 definitely had the edge.



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  1. […] Cakes are individually wrapped up so are excellent to take away as provisions for later on when a touch of the bonk feels like setting […]

  2. […] My post on Cyclists Special here (gosh, from nearly 4 years ago. Have I been blogging that long?!): […]

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