The Clitheroe-Settle-Clitheroe Time Trial

The History of the Clitheroe – Settle – Clitheroe Time Trial by Brian Nightingale.


The Clitheroe-Settle-Clitheroe Reliability Trial was first established in 1934 in response to a demand by members for a club event. Previously a 25 mile event had been promoted over 3 laps of a course from Edisford Bridge Inn, Barn Corner, and Bashall Town, but because of acute bends in the road this event did not last long. The final event was won by Bob Hargreaves who was awarded a gold medal presented by Dunlop.

In 1934, then, the course decided upon was over 32 miles, starting at Bellman Bridge, down to Chatburn Road end, back past the start point and out to Settle via Forest Becks, turning at the Lawklands triangle and retracing back to Bellman Bridge. The prize for the fastest rider was to be the Members Cup. It was decided to make this a perpetual Trophy.

The road in those days was narrow and winding and most of the riding members entered for the spirit of the thing. It was noticed one year that a rider walked up Forest Becks eating an orange!

The first race winning time was set up on a Hill Special equipped with 1 1/4” Endrick wheels and a fixed gear. This time, which was destined to stand for 14 years, was 1 hr 32 mins 25 secs by Robert Hargeaves who, on the day, was 20 secs faster than the second placed man George Grindley.

The club records do not record the event, but a shield on the cup proclaims that J S Brierley won the 1936 race in 1 hr 35 mins 36 secs. In 1938, 8 riders started and Joe Lannon emerged the winner with 1:40:41 from George Marsh with 1:41:1. It is interesting to note that the remainder of the field were within 5 minutes off the winning time. One of the riders was Tom Scott who has officiated as timekeeper for so many years since.

On the 4th June 1939 Bob Hargreaves came within 24 seconds of his own record time with a ride of 1:32:49, a disappointment because in training he had got down to 1 hour 30 minutes. Second fastest was Joe Lannon in 1:35:12.

This may or may not be a shot of the Settle race start but it shows a youthful Marion Bennet being held up by Brian Braithwaite who was a stalwart of the Clarion both locally and Nationally. The annual Clarion photographic competetion is awarded in Brian’s memory. (Marion is riding a Whittaker bicycle from Burnley).

No more races were held until after the war, then on 10th August 1947, the club promoted its first post war event. Eleven riders presented themselves to the timekeeper, Tom Scott, and from this field, Fred Watson, riding a Raleigh equipped with a Sturmey/Cyclo 6 gear combination reputedly giving a top gear of 120” emerged winner in 1:37:2. In second place, riding without toe clips and with mudguards, Reggie Lawson clocked 1:38:10. Ernie Crossley, the Club Captain, was third in 1:39:48.

Two lady members rode in the event and Doreen Pratt with 1:49:47 was awarded the second handicap prize.

On 8th August 1948, the handicapping showed that the winner was expected to be any one of five riders. It was in actual fact Fred Watson whose 1:30:21 bettered the old course record. In second and third places, also inside the old record, were Joe Shiliker and Brian Nightingale with 1:31:39 and 1:31:46. The coincidence of the close times is possibly due to the fact that these two riders trained together and both favoured 74” fixed on the morning.

The 7th August 1949 marked the beginning of a new era. Gone were the heavier machines and, in their place, lightweights. Fred Watson on a brand new Dawes with a 4 speed trying to establish a hat trick of wins broke the record and became the first rider to beat 1 and a 1/2 hours. The record only stood for 8 minutes then Brian Nightingale on a new “Tour de France” machine pushed his 79” fixed gear to first place in 1:29:04. In third place, only 1 second outside the old record, was Doug Atkin with 1:30:22, who two days previously had timed the winner in a 1:29:30 training ride. This was the last time that the event would be won by a rider using fixed gear.

Brian Nightingale crossing the finishing line in 1949 with a new course record of 1:29:04 using a 79″ fixed.

The new era was in and only once in the next 14 years was the winning time outside 1 hour 30 minutes and that was only because of dreadful weather conditions.

On 6th August 1950 the biggest entry ever for this club event, 21 riders, came before the timekeeper Tom Scott. There had been rumours of fast times in training by one of the riders but these were ignored by the two winners from the preceding years. First to finish was Fred Watson in 1:29:58, a few minutes later Brian Nightingale bettered this by 5 seconds to record 1:29:53. It looked as if the two short markers were again going to lead the field, but six minutes later, rumours became fact as Joe Whittaker shot by in 1:27:47 to establish a new record. Brian and Fred, standing by watching, were relegated to second and third places.

8th July 1950 saw Joe Whittaker defending his record and again he astounded everyone by achieving a best ever 1:24:11 with Brian Hall in second place with 1:27:36. A new name appeared for the first time on the result sheet, Tom Hoyle riding in his first event, took third place in 1:28:37.

1952 was a special year. Prolonged rain during the early part of the month had, by 10th August, left Rathmell Flats under almost 2 feet of water and there was much discussion at the start as to what effect this would have on the times. Finally Tom Scott announced that the winner was Ken Varey in 1:31:10, a remarkable time in the appalling conditions. In second place was Norman Ingham in 1:32:12 and Raymond Brown’s 1:33:12 earned him third place.

Ken Varey awaiting the off – Ken may not have been the fastest of Settle race winners but he was certainly the most courageous, braving appalling conditions to win in 1952.

9th August 1953 and the domination of the event by one outstanding rider was about to begin. Tom Hoyle established a new course record by winning in 1:23:27, Bill Altham with 1:23:44 was second and Brian Hall’s 1:28:34 was good enough for third place. All the first three rode from scratch.

In 1954 two riders were rated as potential winners, Tom Hoyle and Alan Ramsbottom, and they finished in that order with 1:23:46 and 1:25:20 respectively. In third place Raymond Brown improved to 1:26:53.

All the riders were now using machines equipped with 5 and 10 gears. This year was notable for the fact that Roma Walsh, the young lady Club Captain, finished in 1:39:58 to establish a best ever time for ladies, the previous best being 1:40:15 by Nancy Simpson in 1949.

1955 again saw Tom and Alan competing for first place. The competition was fierce, both riders breaking the record in their efforts, but the final order remained the same as last year. Tom Hoyle completed a hat trick of wins with an all time best of 1:19:38 against Alan’s 1:22:05. In third place Peter Hargreaves finished in 1:23:34. In this event brothers John and David Lewis joined battle with each other, the older, David, proving 20 seconds too good with 1:28:32.

In 1956 Alan Ramsbottom put in a superb ride to record his own personal best ever, winning in 1:19:54, only 16 seconds outside the record still held by Tom Hoyle, this year riding into second place with 1:20:10. In third place, Alistair Patten’s 1:23:15 represented the fastest time ever achieved by a rider on a fixed gear.

We have no photo of Alan in action in the Settle race, but this will remind people of our most famous clubmate!

In 1957, Tom Hoyle, trying to regain the cup, put in a ride of 1:19:15 to break his own record, but he could only get second place. The record had already crashed to Peter Hargreaves, first to start and first to finish, with a brilliant 1:19:10. In third place was Malcolm Fox with 1:23:29.

1958 was Malcolm Fox’s year. From a field of 13 riders he emerged a clear winner with a time of 1:25:08. Ken Varey was second with 1:27:26 and third, Alistair Patten, in 1:34:10. Joan Bennett, riding the event for the first time, was trying to better sister Marion’s time set up exactly 10 years earlier and she did it by 5 seconds with a ride of 1:44:47.

In 1959 a new name came on the finishing list. Derek Cowell returned to the timekeeper in 1:25:20 pushing last year’s winner, Malcolm Fox, into second place with a beating of 25 seconds. Ken Varey was third in 1:26:45.

In 1960 eight riders came before timekeeper Brian Nightingale and starting in first and second, Ray Westwood and Derek Cowell maintained their positions at the finish, Ray winning in 1:25:48 to Derek’s 1:28:34.

In 1961, joint timekeepers Scott and Nightingale had a list of 11 riders and, once again, Tom Hoyle was an entry, returning to the list after three years. No one was surprised when he regained the course record that he had already held twice and he established an almost unbeatable 1:18:44. Second place man was Ray Westwood with 1:22:43 and Ronnie Aspden came in third place with 1:30:54.

In 1962, timekeeper Brian Nightingale, again had 11 riders on his list and, once again, the finish was a carbon copy of last year, although with Tom Hoyle slightly slower in 1:22:15 against Ray Westwood in 1:22:49, only six seconds slower than his last ride. In third place was Malcolm Fox in 1:23:40.

7th July 1963 saw one of the smallest fields ever, only five riders facing the timekeeper. Again, the watch was held by Brian Nightingale. As in 1955, Tom Hoyle was on a hat trick and, making no mistake, he finished in 1:21:19 to win from John Ramsbottom, brother of the 1956 winner, whose time was 1:25:17. Third was Neil Fort with 1:26:22.

Tom Hoyle thus set a standard which may never be bettered, twice acheiving a hat trick of wins, twice second and once third.

Most prolific of winners – this shot of Tom Hoyle illustrates the style that brought Tom so many Settle wins.

Altogether over the twenty one years there have been a total of nine timekeepers, Tom Scott and Brian Nightingale heading the list with 12 and 9 events, some of them in cooperation with each other. In all 224 riders have departed from Bellman Bridge and of all these, only 13 did not finish which makes a grand total of 6330 miles of Settle racing!

1968 saw K Weightman win in 1:31:52 and 1969 J Ramsbottom won in 1:24:45.

After that, due to various changes, the event became an open event, although from 1970 until 1978 it was over the same 32 mile course, then, due to the Settle By Pass construction, the course was shortened almost from year to year so that we lost the Clitheroe roundabout and got a crossing on the Northern By Pass for one year and we also lost the Settle Triangle. In 1979 the course was 28.18 miles and in 1987, 27.31 miles, in 1988, 25 miles and then, in 1993, when the British Best All Rounder entered, we had to finish the event, not just because of roadworks, but because of conflict between the North Lancs DC of the RTTC and the Yorkshire DC over the RTTC ban on “U” turns, this brought the mileage down to 25 miles with the U turn halfway along Rathmell Flats just inside the North Lancs DC boundary. Also Health and Safety regulations on a course such as this meant that a great responsibility fell on the organiser and it was decided to call it a day, or, more properly speaking, as it was an evening event, it was Good Night!

Brian Nightingale – Promoter of all the Open Events and many of the Club Events, along with many other members, without whose help there would have been no events.

The Clitheroe Clarion – Clitheroe – Settle – Clitheroe time trial 1934 to 1963 Club Event over 32 miles.

1st: Robert Hargreaves – 1:32:25*
2nd: G Grindley – 1:32:45
3rd: G Christopher – (time unknown)

1st J S Brierley – 1:35:36

1st: Joe Lannon – 1:40:41
2nd: George Marsh – 1:41:01
3rd: Walter Robinson – (time unknown)
Timekeeper: B H Richmond

​1st: R Hargreaves – 1:32:49
2nd: J Lannon – 1:35:12
3rd A Whaites – (time unknown)
Timekeeper: B H Richmond

1st: Fred Watson – 1 37 02
2nd: Reggie Lawson – 1 38 12
3rd: Ernest Crossley – (time unknown)
Timekeepers: T Scott/W W Seedle

1st: F Watson – 1 30 21*
2nd: Joseph Sherliker – 1 31 39
3rd: Brian Nightingale – 1 31 46
Timekeepers: T Scott/W W Seedle

1st: B Nightingale – 1:29:04*
2nd: F Watson – (time unknown)
3rd: Douglas Atkin – 1:30:22
Timekeepers: L Cowperthwaite/W W Seedle

1st: Joseph S Whittaker 1:27:47*
2nd: B Nightingale – 1:29:53
3rd: F Watson – 1:29:58
Timekeepers: T Scott/D Yeoman

1st: J Whittaker – 1:24:11*
2nd: Brian Hall – 1:27:36
3rd: Tom Hoyle – 1:28:37
Timekeepers: J Scott/J Wookey

1st: Kenneth Varey – 1:31:10
2nd: Norman Ing – 1:32:12
3rd: Raymond Brown – 1:33:12
Timekeepers: T Scott/L Cowperthwaite

1st: T Hoyle – 1:23:27*
2nd: William Altham – 1:23:44
3rd: B Hall – 1:28:34
Timekeepers: T Scott/L Cowperthwaite

1st: T Hoyle – 1:23:46
2nd: Alan Ramsbottom – 1:25:20
3rd: R Brown – 1:26:53
Timekeeper: B Nightingale

1st: T Hoyle – 1:19:38*
2nd: A Ramsbottom – 1:22:05
3rd: Peter Hargreaves – 1:23:34
Timekeepers: B Nightingale/B Braithwaite

1st: A Ramsbottom – 1:19:54
2nd: T Hoyle – 1:20:10
3rd: Alastair Patten – 1:23:15
Timekeeper: B Nightingale

1st: P Hargreaves – 1:19:10*
2nd: T Hoyle – 1:19:15
3rd: Malcolm Fox – 1:23:29
Timekeepers: T Scott/B Nightingale

1st: M Fox – 1:25:08
2nd: K Varey – 1:27:26
3rd: A Patten – 1:34:10
Timekeeper: T Scott

1st: Derek Cowell – 1:25:20
2nd: M Fox – 1:25:45
3rd: K Varey – 1:26:45
Timekeepers: T Scott/B Nightingale

1st: Ray W Westwood – 1:25:48
2nd: D Cowell – 1:28:34
Timekeeper: B Nightingale

1st: T Hoyle – 1:18:44*
2nd: R Westwood – 1:22:43
3rd: Ronnie Aspden – 1:30:45
Timekeepers: T Scott/B Nightingale

1st: T Hoyle – 1:22:15
2nd: R Westwood – 1:22:49
3rd: M Fox – 1:23:40
Timekeepers: T Scott/B Nightingale

1st: T Hoyle – 1:21:19
2nd: John Ramsbottom – 1:25:17
3rd: Neil Fort – 1:26:22
Timekeeper: B Nightingale

1st: J Ramsbottom – 1:24:45

1st: K Weightman – 1:31:02

1st: J Ramsbottom – 1:24:45

From 1970 the event became Open but still used the 32 mile course.

1970: H Walmesley (Clayton Velo) – (time unknown)
1971: H Walmesley (Clayton Velo) – (time unknown)
1972: G C Greenwood (West Pennine) – 1:16:33*
1973: G C Greenwood (West Pennine) – 1:16:50
1974: T Stott (North Lancs RC) – 1:18:32
1975: M G Gadd (Cleveleys RC) – 1:17:41
1976: M G Gadd (Cleveleys RC) – 1:16:52
1977: C Miller (Clayton Velo) – 1:20:22
1978: A Gornall (North Lancs RC) – 1:18:55

For 1979 the course was reduced to 28.18 miles.

1979: R Barker (Cheshire Roads) – 1:11:23*
1980: J Romaine (North Lancs RC) – 1:10:51*
1981: A Gornall (Clayton Velo) – 1:07:28*
1982: C Ridings (Clayton Velo) – 1:07:21*
1983: W Mercer (North Lancs RC) – 1:08:31
1984: A Gornall (Clayton Velo) – 1:06:03*
1985: A Gornall (G S Strada) – 1:05:33*
1986: A Sweetnam (Preston Whs) – 1:08:57

For 1987 the course was reduced to 27.31 miles.

1987: D Ferguson (North Lancs RC) 1:06:19

For 1988, the course was reduced to 25 miles in various ways.

1988: A Sweetnam (Preston Whs) – 59:34*
1989: G Watts (Horwich CC) – 1:00:52
1990: A Gornall (Manchester Whs) – 58:20*
1991: A Gornall (Manchester Whs) – 57:34*
1992: I Kay (Blackburn & Dist CTC) – 59:14
1993: G Butler (RT Italia/Ribble) – 51:04*

* Denotes Course Record