60 Years of the Wheelers

Founded in 1891 the Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club is the Oldest in the City of Wolverhampton and surrounding area, and one of the Pioneering clubs in the birth of Cycle Sport nation wide.

The Wolverhampton Wheelers survived the world wars and proceeded to go from strength to strength, seeing it reach lofty heights in the 60’s and 70’s with Hugh Porter M.B.E winning 4 world championship Pursuit gold medals and various other successful national level cyclists.

Now the only club in Wolverhampton with the much coveted Sport England Clubmark award, recognising the clubs superb work with youth development, and the development of the sport of cycling in the City of Wolverhampton and its surrounding areas as a whole.

A Brief History of Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club

by Ron Moules during his 60 years of membership from 1944 to 2006

1940s to late 1960s. Jack Davies was the Club President - a cross-country runner and cycle tourist. Norman Haselock was Chairman - he was a racing man of the old school - an NCU and RTTC stalwart. In 1942 he joined the rebellious Percy Stallard and helped form the BLRC and consequently steered the Club in that direction. The Club was expelled immediately from the NCU/RTTC - sine die.

1945 saw the return of demobilised servicemen - Ray Jones, Bob Thom, Ben Whitmore, Bill Allen, Roy Fletcher, Alan Rea, etc.

(Ray Jones and Roy Fletcher had both ridden in international races pre-war under the NCU banner - Ray Jones took part in road races under BLRC rules during the war period whilst a member of the WWCC).

After the AGM of that year, Ray Jones put forward a motion that the club re-apply for membership of the NCU and this motion was carried by a narrow margin. Immediately there was a ‘split’ by other riders who spoke of forming a new club under BLRC rules. Norman Haselock took control and ‘forced’ a special AGM and enlisted the help of Eddie Angrave (of the BLRC) to speak.

The result of this saga was ‘that WWCC remain members of the BLRC’ and this was carried unanimously. Ray Jones immediately resigned from the club and retired from racing.

The Secretary during those years was R T Whitmore, brother of Ben. Not only was he Secretary but also Treasurer and Membership Secretary (the membership then was nothing near to that of today) - the continuing Chairman was Norman Haselock.

Other noted committee members were Bill Bassett – an old-timer, John Bird (Club champion and a great motivator); Stan Kite; Alan Rea (who later became secretary following a ‘misdeed’ by R T Whitmore with respect to his book-keeping) and Les Pearce. It was later in this era that we ‘younger ones’ infiltrated the committee, Alan Power, Ian Jones, Ron Aspey and myself, and began the task of modernising the Club.

Against stiff opposition Alan Power and Ian Jones set about the process of finding ways to bring money into the coffers and also to increase membership. This resulted in a large influx of both male and female bike-riders - one well-known name being that of Hugh Porter.

At this time Joe Dickinson returned to active cycling and, although of the ‘old-school,’ sensed the enthusiasm of the new committee and together with Norman Haselock, organised grass-track meetings and Joe Dickinson got deeply involved in the sport of  Cyclo-Cross up to International level.

Around this time Aldersley track was built and Joe Dickinson and Stan Kite promoted training nights and open track meetings up to professional standard.

Joe Dickinson also developed a new enthusiasm for schoolboy races by using Park circuits very successfully.

Also in this period Stan Kite and Ian Jones were organising road-races - the Severn Valley Road Race was a good example.

Alan Power ran Roller Contests in village halls - packed to capacity with spectators.

Ron Aspey and I brought together the first Club Magazine - named ‘The Wheeler.’ It was sold at the princely sum of sixpence. (2½p).

In the late 1960’s Norman Haselock stood down from the post of Chairman and I was elected to the position. My term lasted for ten years, at the end of which Jack Davies retired from his Presidency. His position was filled by Arthur Hughes of Dugmore Cycles. Alan Power succeeded me, becoming Chairman for the next three years.

Norman Southall became in the next Chairman. He was a very active and enthusiastic committee member and organised the Annual Dinner and Dance for many years. He organised Road Races, Prize-givings and many more activities. Upon the demise of Norman Southall, Joe Dickinson took the position of Chairman. During this period Arthur Hughes had been replaced by Les Pearce as President. It was also in this period that Alan Rea retired from the post of Secretary after 30 years service.

Alan Rea had been an excellent Secretary and Treasurer - the bank balance in that era had no comparison to that of today. It was during this era that Ben Whitmore was coaching school-boy racers: but this required money and Alan Rea was not too keen on letting money go. This caused some friction and me, being Chairman, had the problem of soothing the feelings between them. Alan Rea was a very good Secretary but we felt it was time for a change, and it was Stan Kite, Ron Aspey, Alan Power, Ian Jones and myself who ‘engineered’ a vote at the next AGM to remove Alan Rea and install Stan Kite as Secretary, with Ron Aspey as Treasurer. They were elected and Alan Rea retired.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s a WHEELERS’ team was sponsored by Viking Cycles. And a very strong team it was too, with many successes. But the sponsorship was withdrawn after two years: I believe the reason was that they (Viking), were expecting to sign Hugh Porter and Michael Stallard, but they both had other strings to their bow and declined the offer. Stan Kite managed the team and after this episode he went on to manage the PCA and organised big events such as the London to Holyhead Road Race.

The whole sponsorship affair caused many problems and the club became a lot ‘wiser’ about sponsorship. The BCF rules at that time was that ‘the club should be sponsored and not a club team’ so consequently the Club gained nothing.

Hugh Porter was made a Life Member in honour of his four world titles in the pursuit race on the track.

Bob Lane replaced Ron Aspey as Treasurer, he, in turn, gave way to Malcolm Harrison for a short while and was followed briefly by Ernie Wallbank, who  emigrated to Australia, that was in 1988 and the year when Ted Williams became Treasurer - he's still Treasurer after 18 years in 2006.

Short periods of office covered the following people as Secretary - Dave Tonks, Phil Wilson, Dave Peasland, Paul Bassett, Bernard Jones and Peter Cole (who was also well-known for his hilly time-trial organisation) Following Peter Cole's term in office was Paul Wedge, who is a rather quiet man and completely efficient - a useful member of the management team.

In the 1980’s Robin Kyte returned to the Club as a ‘senior racing man’ but he was much more than that - his enthusiasm and energy was also shown in organising and running schemes to raise money - ably assisted by his wife Jayne. His abilities were recognised when he was elected Chairman in 1994 following the retirement of Derek Garner. It is from this period, with the efforts of people like Robin in attracting younger members, Ted Williams’ new Newsletter, Bert Bloxham’s organisation of the Dinner Dances, Bert and Ted’s organisation of the Time Trials with computerised results which brought an element of business management to the club to add to the enthusiasm. This combination created the confidence in our organisational skills which enabled the Club to attract substantial monetary grants to further the ambition to expand the Club.

Also, during this period of change, there were several members who, although not in management positions, made a tremendous contribution to the club. Maurice, Glynis and Paul Turner organised many very successful cyclo-cross events at Aldersley Stadium – even working by the light of car headlamps to clear the course ready for the next morning’s event ! Ron Ansell displayed his organisational skills in promoting the ‘Severn Valley’ and ‘Two Counties’ Road Races for several years while the redoubtable Brian Westwood organised and rode the Club time trials for 30 or more years.

Although the President’s role is largely an honorary one, the Club was lucky to have Bob Thom, an experienced England racing team manager and widely known throughout the cycling world, as President for many years. He was well known for his generosity and his ability to make friends quickly – in fact, he made the perfect President.

When Bob retired as age started to take its inevitable effect, Hugh Porter OBE relished the position of President, but, unfortunately for the Club, was very much in demand as a sports commentator for the BBC and was unable to be present at many of the Club’s activities.

The foregoing is a brief insight of the activities of some of the elected officials of the club (my apologies to anyone omitted), but, obviously, no club like ours could prosper without the continual support of enthusiastic members who help, often in an unofficial capacity, those who organise our affairs and events. Members who have joined the club and stayed – and some who have merely joined and disappeared.

As for the members remaining from those early days, Stan Kite; Ian Jones; Ron Aspey - they are all Life Members – Stan lives in Claregate, Ian lives in Church Stretton and Ron lives in Codsall and is still very active in the Club. Me? I live in Bushbury and am at present Club President having taken office in 2002 !

I am also the author of this missive! It is as accurate as far as my memory allows – undoubtedly much more could be added, but the detailed history I leave to someone who may find the challenge interesting.

Ron Moule


RTTC  Road Time Trial Council
NCU  National Cyclists Union
BLRC  British League of Racing Cyclists
AGM  Annual General Meeting
SAGM  Special Annual General Meeting
WWCC Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club
PCA  Professional Cycling Association