Owd Tom, Albert Winstanley (1992)

A nicely illustrated celebration of cyclist that delivers a strong flavour of cycling in the 1920s and of the haunts of Lancashire cyclists of that era

Owl Books 1873888155 Octo 96pp

Albert Winstanley’s obituary appears here.

Tom Hughes, who died in 1950 at the age of 83 was a legend in cycling circles. He started cycling on a ‘high ordinary’ in 1887 and had clocked up more than 400,000 miles by the time he hung up his wheels. Most remarkable of all, in 1925, he rode just shy of 10,000 miles. Two hundred miles a week might not sound like a lot, but in the same year he worked 375 shifts down the coal mine, where he made his living, an average of over seven shifts a week.

His physical feats were by no means his only extraordinary facet. He was a keen photographer, in the days of plate cameras, and made comic slides of himself, the like of which are common place in the Photoshop era, but required great skill in the 1920s. He also founded a cycling club that endures to this day – the Autumn Tints. ‘Junior’ members are admitted once they reach the age of 50. Only when the attain the age of 70 are they made up to ‘senior’ status.

Winstanley’s book gives a remarkably full account of Hughes life – given that he was a working man who did not leave a wealth of papers behind. He draws on the memories of surviving family members and friends, as well as reproducing a considerably quantity of photographs.

Sadly his annual total mileages , and a list of countries visited is all that really remains of his travelling. Hughes only learned to write to expedite his wedding, so unsurprisingly there is no treasure trove of reminiscences. But the author paints an engaging picture of the ‘Tints’ and their haunts – mainly in Hughes native Lancashire.

PS May 10

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