Kuklos’ Times obituary

The Times, December 19 1938


A cheerful, combative, straightforward personality is lost to London daily journalism by the death of Mr W Fitzwater Wray (“Kuklos” of the Daily Herald), which occurred on Friday last.

Bort at Hitchin, Hertfordshire in 1867, Wray was the third son of Rev. Samuel Wray, of Sancton, Yorkshire. He was educated at Kingswood School, Bath and Woodhouse Grove School, Airedale, and then served his time as a commercial lithographer. From this occupation he went on to photo-process engraving meanwhile developing his powers as a draughtsman, and eventually becoming an illustrator in daily and weekly periodicals.

The rapidly growing vogue of bicycling in the middle nineties provided an opportunity which Wray was quick to seize and exploit. The development of the “safety” model, as it was called, flooded the cycle factories with orders which for some time passed their capacity. Wray became a cyclist about 1890 and soon began to write on this new pursuit for various newspapers, giving up pictorial work in 1895 to devote himself entirely to journalism under the pen-name of “Kuklos”. 

His first staff appointment was with the Daily News and to this paper and its successor, the News Chronicle, he contributed regular weekly articles for some 25 years. He then transferred his services to the Daily Herald, and had a final article therein on the day after his death.

“Kuklos” was a persona grata to thousands of individual cyclists, the manufacturers and to the national organisations connected with the sport. He was several times vice-president of the Cyclists’ Touring Club. His writings were very far from being narrowly devoted to the mechanical side of cycling (although he had an expert knowledge of “points” and was an excellent judge of a model): but ranged widely, not only over the obvious field of natural description, but among other topics whose relevance could only have occurred to an alert mind. To him the bicycle was much more than a mere means of locomotion. It provided healthy exercise for the body and the mind too, and he showed how it was possible to extend cultural contacts by this method of cheap and comparatively rapid transport.

Wray had cycled over the length and breadth of England and a good part of Europe as well, and in his most robust years averaged some 10,000 miles on the wheel. In the frequent controversies between cyclists and motorists he took a strong line in support of his friends; and the measure of his influence may be computed by the fact that he answered about 3,000 queries and appreciative letters every year. Several books came from his pen, including a tourist’s anthology called “A Vagabond’s Note-Book”, “The Kuklos Papers”, “The Visitor’s Book” and various translations of Henri Barbusse.

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