Club history

Club History

Formed in 1932, the Southborough & District Wheelers cycling club has seen many changes.



  • 1932 Club formed as an alternative to the then Tunbridge Wells Cycling & Athletic Club

  • 1934 Ladies admitted to the Club

  • 1938 John Fuller claimed the National individual 200 mile record which still stands, but this distance was dropped after the war

  • 1939 Outbreak of second world war, the club disappears almost without trace.

  • 1947 Club re-emerges, with Sunday club runs

  • 1948 Southborough promoted their first Open event, medium gear, 25 miles.

  • 1949 First Southborough Gazette is printed

  • 1950 Grass track racing held on Southborough Common & Warwick Park until 1954

  • 1957 SD&W affiliated to the East Sussex Cycling Association

  • 1958 The 100th edition of the Southborough Gazette was published in January 1958

  • 1958 Lou Bathurst became Secretary of the RTTC South East District Council

  • 1960 Road racing begins in the area

  • 1966 The 200th edition of the Southborough Gazette was published in May

  • 1968 Southborough won the KCA Reliability (Rootes Trophy) for the first time

  • 1968 Lou Bathurst was elected onto the RTTC National Committee

  • 1968 The Club finished meeting at Hillcot, Speldhurst, the home of Mr and Mrs Chambers in November 1968 the club moved its meetings to St. Thomas’s Hall, Vale Road, Southborough

  • 1968 Peter Crowsley became President of the East Sussex Cycling Association for a year

  • 1971 A21 Tonbridge by Pass opens creating the perfect 10 mile TT course

  • 1971 Lou Bathurst promoted the RTTC National 25 mile TT Championships

  • 1972 Tonbridge by Pass 10 mile course approved

  • 1973 Lou Bathurst died suddenly.  He was the Club Chairman

  • 1974 the Clubroom at Brokes Wood,  Powder Mill Lane was opened on the 19th May (the club’s 42nd Birthday) by the Editor of the Kent and Sussex Courier

  • 1974 Warwick Dunford became Secretary of the South East District Council

  • 1974 The 300th edition of the Southborough Gazette was published in September

  • 1975 Mr. Chambers of Hillcot, Speldhurst dies .

  • 1976 1st January is made a Bank Holiday, so an Open 10 mile TT is organised on the Q10/23

  • 1977 Warwick Dunford was made a Life Member of the Southborough & District Wheelers

  • 1980 Road racing gains popularity in the 1980s

  • 1981 The fastest time on the Tonbridge by Pass  held by Dave Lloyd of Manchester Wheelers with a time of 19.11

  • 1983 Ian Silvester holds the fastest 10 mile TT as a club Member.  His time 19.55

  • 1989 Vandals burn down the clubhouse in Powdermill Lane, Southborough

  • 1990 The club relocates to current venue at the Borderers, Frant Road, T. Wells

  • 1991 The Wincanton Classic race passes through T. Wells. The stage from Brighton to Brighton 234.5km

  • 1992 Southborough promote Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Races on their 60th Anniversary.

  • 1992 At the Prize Presentation, all four members of the ‘Watson’ family received a Trophy David – Don Robb Boys 10 mile Trophy and A. Hayward Memorial Shield, Peter – President’s Trophy for the Junior B.A.R, Jo –   the E. Maskell Merit Trophy, John – the Tricycle 10 mile Trophy

  • 1993 Southborough again promote some Town Centre Races for 1/2/3 cats on Sunday 30 May

  • 1993 The Milk Race.  The Prologue of this was held in Tunbridge Wells  3.7km

  • 1993 In July, David Watson designed a new front cover for the Gazette (Work Experience at Pen & Ink Publicity Services at Tonbridge)

  • 1993 Peter Crofts broke 19 records in the year from 10 miles Vets to 12 hour Vets.

  • From Winter 1993/94 to Winter 1997/98, Southborough took part in the Kent CA Roller Racing League.  Clubs participating were San Fairy Ann CC, Dartford Wheelers, Medway Velo, Wigmore CC and Southborough.

  • 1995 New Club jersey was designed, nicknamed ‘the Frog suit’.

  • 1997 65 Years of Cycling was celebrated at the White Rock Inn, Underrider with an Inter Club ‘It’s a Knockout’.

  • 1999 The Road Time Trials Council National Committee awarded Warwick Dunford with the RTTC Badge of Honour in recognition of Outstanding Service to the Council.   Only the second Kent man to be honoured.

  • 2000 David Watson organises Brands Hatch circuit races which continue through to 2009

  • 2001 A Biathalon takes place between Southborough and Tunbridge Wells Harriers (runners), Run 2.3 miles;  cycle 9.1 miles

  • 2001 The first club website went on line by Stuart Mugridge

  • 2003 Club member, Theo Stegers completes the Paris-Brest-Paris ride in 61hrs 52 mins

  • 2004 New Club clothing kit is designed

  • 2004 Alan Oakley and Martin Yardley started summer schools for children for 6-8 weeks with the help of Anthony O’Callaghan and Steve Morris

  • 2006 BC Go ride scheme started with Alan Oakley and Steve Morris.  2 Go Ride sessions a week.  15 youngsters supported by Neil Quarmby and Joh Mitchell also

  • 2007 ‘Come and Try it’ events start on Ladies Mile

  • 2007 The Tour de France passes through Tun. Wells.    Route was London to Canterbury

  • 2012 Warwick Dunford died in February.  He had been the Club’s Racing Secretary, Captain, Treasurer and Chairman.  He was also Treasurer and then General Secretary of the RTTC South East District Council for almost 30 years and was on the committee of the National RTTC (now CTT)

  • 2013 S&DW have a new Club clothing kit

  • 2013 Esther Carpenter became President of the East Sussex Cycling Association for a year, New Club website launched Dec 2013

  • 2014 S&DW member interest Cyclo Cross racing grew signifcantly

  • 2015 Regular  Under 8s to Youth (40 children) and 4 coaches started offering Road and Track racing and Cyclo Cross.

  • 2016 Glen Whittington and Julia Hawksworth won the first  Mens and Ladies Club Cyclo Cross Championships respectively

  • 2016 Rob Stephenson improved the Club’s 10 mile record which had stood since 1983 to 19.40

  • 2016 Ron Hayward died.  He joined the club in 1949 and was a Vice Chairman, Chairman, Vice President, President and Life Member.  After his racing career, he organised many local tea bars at open events with the help of Veronica.

  • 2017 Mens 10 mile Team record changed 6 times during the event, finally down to 1.02.22 (Rob Stephenson( 20.32), Neil Couchman (20.52) and David Rumm (20.58). The Mens Veteran Team 10 mile record changed 3 times during the same event. The record now at +17.08 (Ian Hodge +5.34, Rob Stephenson +5.51, David Rumm +5.43) - 9 records in one Open Time Trial in Hampshire on the P881

  • 2017 David Rumm improved the Mens 10 mile TT record to 19.34 on the V718, Philippa Jenkins improved the Ladies 12 hour record which had stood for 55 years to 260.267mls

  • 2017 Philippa Jenkins received the senior KCA BAR (Best all rounder) at the Kent Cycling Association prize presentation. This was the first time in its history that it had been presented to a lady.

  • 2018 Philippa Jenkins improved the Club’s Ladies 100 TT record which had stood since 1981.  It is now 4.16.13, an improvement of 3 mins

  • 2018 Philippa Jenkins improved the Club’s 12 hour record for both men and ladies.  She recorded a time of 268.513mls

  • 2018 Southborough stopped using the Borderers Clubroom after some 28 years (1990 – 2018)

  • 2018 Neil Couchman, Rob Stephenson and Matt Kuwertz improved the record for the Club’s Mens Vets Team 100 miles, which had stood since 1994.  It was +22.35, and the record now stands at +121.34

  • 2018 Philippa Jenkins won the Kent CA 25 mile Trophy with a time of 59,55.   She also won the Glad Mills Plaque for the best Lady rider in the 12 hour (268.51m)

  • 2018 In the National Best British All Rounder,  Philippa Jenkins came 13th out of 49 ladies with an ave mph of 25.059

  • 2019 Geoffrey Abraham died 17th February   He joined the Club in the early 50’s, but then went away for 20 years, but came back to the area and joined the Wheelers again.  Geoff had 2 sons, who were both keen cyclists, Paul and David.   Geoff was also a very keen Wednesday Wobbler

  • 2019 Philippa Jenkins equalled the Ladies course record on the Tonbridge by Pass with Lesley Walking who did her time in 2010.  The record stands at 22.19 for Ladies

  • 2019 Philippa Jenkins improved the Club’s Ladies 50 mile record which stood since 1981.The record is now 1.54.50.

  • 2019 Philippa Jenkins improved the Club’s Ladies 25 mile record to 55.31 in the RTTC National 25m TT Championships.

  • 2019 Philippa Jenkins has improved the Clubs 24 hour record for both men and ladies.  The Ladies record had stood since 1984 and Pip recorded a distance of 463.80

  • 2019 Neil Harris has improved the S&DW course record for the Tonbridge by Pass.  This now stands at 19.37

  • 2019 Neil Harris has improved the Club’s 10 mile TT record to 19.03, an improvement of 31 seconds.

  • 2019 At the Kent Cycling Association Luncheon, Southborough were presented with the Rootes Trophy for the most points in the KCA Reliability Ride.This is the second time the Club have won this Trophy.

  • 2019 SDW host a London Cyclo Cross event for the second time at Somerhill School in Tonbridge in December.

  • 2020 For the first time in it's history the SDW New Years Day 10m TT is moved from from Q10/10 at Bethersden to the Q10/1 at Ham Street due to roads works.

  • 2020 Coronavirus outbreak affected cycling with all events being cancelled from March until further notice

  • 2020 Amidst Covid-19 lockdowns, the SDWasps online cycling community is formed with over 100 active riders contributing to  winning the inaugural BCSE InterClub Challenge.

  • 2020 On 16th July, club Time Trials begin again under strict Covid-19 regulations using the Sleeches Cross/Mayfield course

  • 2020 On 5th September, Neil Harris (The Man In Black), improves the Club's 10 mile Time Trial record to 18:47 on the Q10/19 A21 Tonbridge Bypass course, an improvement of 16 seconds.

  • 2020 Keith Henderson wins the inaugural SDW Online Cycling Club Championships which was hosted on Zwift and broadcast on YouTube

  • 2021 SDW host their first Online Race Series on RGT attracting over 270 riders from over 20 different countries. While on Zwift, SDW win the London Lockdown Club Competition against over 50 South East clubs.

  • 2021  Julian Fussell and Simon Miller are shortlisted in the British Cycling South East Volunteer of the Year awards with Simon winning the Innovation award for the club's online cycling community engagement.

  • 2021 On April 15th, SDW begin post lockdown Club Time Trials again with Neil Harris taking a club course record of 24:43 on the Sleeches Cross/Mayfield course in cold conditions.

  • 2021on June 6th in the Kent CA 100, Pip Jenkins, Simon Miller and Julian Fussell won the Team Prize in a time of 13hours, 27mins and 34secs

  • 2021 on Saturday 19th June,  Chase the Sun South – from Sheerness to Burnham on Sea.  Start time 04.30 a.m.  A record 17 Wheelers took part in this successful cross the country in a day with our lead group finishing in the top 10 across the line.

  • 2021 from 4th to 11 July, four Southborough Wheelers took part in the Pan Celtic Race.  This started in Maker Heights, Cornwall, goes right round Cornwall, north Devon, over to Wales up the west coast and finished at Llandudno.  830 miles and 64,123ft elevation.  Matt Kuwertz and Neil Couchman finished in 5 days, 7hrs and 30mins on 9th July.  Paul Greer and Matt Evans finished in 7 days, 1hour and 45mins.  Matt and Neil were winners of their race. Paul and Matt came 3rd.

  • 2021 on 18th July  Neil Harris improved the Tonbridge by Pass course record to 18.45

  • 2021 on 28 August, a two day event 2/3 Stage Race at Cyclopark over four stages -  Torin Henderson, Nick Hart and Christian Neal took part, winning the Team Time Trial stage, but overall Torin Henderson came 1st, Nick Hart 5th and Christian Neal 21st.

  • 2021 on 4th Septemebr, Neil Harris improved the S&DW 10 mile Club record for this course to 18.42 on the Tonbridge by Pass (Q10/19)

  • 2021 in October, Ben Neal improved the Kidds Hill Climb by 13 seconds.  The record now stands at 4.09.98

  • 2021 on October 17th, Southborough Wheelers hosted their 3rd Cyclo Cross race at Somerhill School at Tonbridge featuring "The Tron" CX maze.   A dry day and a very successful event.

  • 2021 on October 31st, the KCA Reliability Ride organised by Julian Fussell and one other, took place when it was pouring with rain yet 155 riders represented 7 clubs with SDW taking the Rootes Trophy.

  • 2021 on November 6th, Rory Barrett won the Henderson Cup Online Cycling Club Championships which can be viewed here

  • 2021 in December at the Club’s A.G.M, Bill MacNay stood down as Chairman having been in the chair since 2011.

  • 2022 on 3rd April, for the first time since 2016, the Don Robb Trophy for Juveniles (3 x 10 miles) will be awarded to Augustus Harris at the Club Dinner.  He can still improve his times until the Dinner.

  • 2022 on 5th April, Simon Miller visited Southborough's Twin Town Lambersaart to present the Mayor and the President of the Cyclo Club de Lambersaart with SDW 90th anniversary gifts. 

  • 2022 on 7th May, Neil Harris improves the Mens 25 mile Club record on the F2A/25 in a time of 48.24

  • 2022 on 8th May, Henry Weaver completed 2 x 10 miles and 2 x 25 miles for the President’s Trophy, presented by Major Eric Ruffell. This Trophy was last presented in 2001

  • 2022 on 22 May, David Rumm improved the Club’s 30 mile record to 1.01.54 on the P8848/30.  He improved upon his own record for this distance back in 2017

  • 2022 on 11th June, Southborough & District Wheelers celebrated their 90th Anniversary with organisation of the Tunbridge Wells Cycling festival in Calverley Park in collaboration with the council other local clubs and bike retailers, attracting a great crowd for what was a very successful event.

  • 2022 on 28th June,  Chris Parsons Green improved the record for the Winchet Hill 10 circuit by one second (23.30)  Previously held by Matt Kuwertz , 23.31, in 2018

  • 2022 in July, Matt Kuertz, Neil Couchman and Paul Greer completed the PanCeltic 2022 race with Neil and Matt winning the short route pairs competition.

  • 2022 on 10th July, new SDW rider, Sam Fuller improved the Mens 50 mile TT record on the P8811/50 to 1.43.52.  Previously held by Peter Crofts back in 1993

  • 2022 on 7th August,  Sam Fuller improved the Mens 100 mile TT record on the G100/861 to 3.52.50.  Again another record previously held by Peter Crofts in 1993

  • 2022 in August, two S&DW riders, Nick Plimmer and Olly Stevens took part in the London to Edinburgh to London event both completing the 1,500 kms in under the required 125 hours - fully self-supported. 

  • 2022,  3rd September,   On the Club’s Tonbridge by Pass course, 4 records were broken.
    Neil Harris improved the S&DW 10 mile Club record  to 18.34.  The Mens 10 Team was improved to 59.26  (Neil Harris  18.34;  Sam Fuller 19.12; and Gary Sinclair 21.40) Twice, the Mens Vets 10 Team record was broken  First +17.14   (Julian Fussell  21.43  +4.58;  Gary Sinclair  21.40  +4.39;  and Neil Harris  18.34  +7.36)    =  +17.14
    Then Simon Baker rode, which improved it by one second to +17.13  (Julian Fussell  21.43  +4.58;  Simon Baker  21.43  +4.40;  and Neil Harris  18.34  +7.36)  =  +17.13

  • 2022, October 15th, Don Robb who supported Juniors to Cycle and Time Trial, died at a Care Home in Rusthall.  Don was the Club Secretary for a number of years, and donated the perpetual Don Robb Trophy for Juvenile performances. 
  • 2022 December, Doug Finch also retired as Time Trial Secretary after 22 years in the position. Jo Watson also retired as the Club’s Recorder of Time Trials, Road Races, Audax, Cyclo Cross, On-line racing, Track racing, mountain biking, some long distances races. Reliability Rides and anything else connected with racing.  Jo had been in the job for over 30 years 
  • 2023 March, Les Hayman celebrated his 90th Birthday and in his honour, the Club has named the Reliability Ride after him.  It will now be known as the Les Hayman Reliability Ride
  • 2023, June - The Lewes Wanderers Crits took place over Three Thursday nights and glorious weather.    Southborough have not had a winner of the series since Chris Howard won it in 2004.  This year Chris Parsons Green was the winner of the 3 evenings
  • 2023, June - Neil Harris improved the Sleeches Cross to Mayfield and back record.  It is now 23.53. Neil also  improved the Club’s 50 mile record to 1.38.43  on the F2/50.   This was previously held by Sam Fuller in a time of 1.43.26
  • 2023, October Southborough Wheelers organised their 4th Cyclo Cross meeting at Somerhill School at Tonbridge on Sunday 16 October.    A dry and very successful day, with lots of Southborough riders of all ages. This was shortly followed by hosting our very first round of the National Cyclo Cross Series at Cyclopark under Bruce Sandell's leadership. 
  • At the A.G.M in December 2022, Ian Turner retired as Chairman.  Bruce Sandell was elected the new Chairman


Clubnight with Warwick Dunford, standing and Lou Bathurst to his left, 1955

History through the decades by Les Hayman


The club was created in 1932 in Southborough. It consisted almost entirely of young people mainly men. Like the many new cycling clubs being created at the time it concentrated on the all day Sunday club run and tea at the end of it at a cafe or a specialist cycling caterer. One such was the room behind “Hillcott” at Speldhurst where Mr & Mrs Chambers supplied tea, sandwiches and cake for dozens of visiting clubs. It was here that Southborough Wheelers made their headquarters with one evening a week as clubnight.

Their racing activities were principally time trialling and track. They did have a very strong cycle polo team in the mid 1930s. The war took most of the membership in 1939 and unlike other clubs Southborough Wheelers folded completely.


Unlike many other cycling clubs, nobody from Southborough Wheelers made any effort to maintain evidence of their existence. It was not until 1947 that John Fuller, a pre-war member of considerable time trialling ability, met Les Horsefieldat their workplace in Tonbridge. Les had ridden pre-war with a London club, Velma C.C. Together, with Les’s administrative ability and John’s riding enthusiasm they scoured the area for members and records of the old club. Very few people wished to re-join and only a few books, trophies etc, could be retrieved.

Clubruns recommenced and long weekend tours were introduced at all the bank holidays. In 1949 Geoff Abraham and Ron Hayward (both still active in 2013) joined along with many other new riders. Most were still young people. Among them was “Lou” Bathurst who went on to dominate club organisation for over 25 years.


This decade was a boom for cyclists nationally. The club rode on a high with clubruns still dominating. Weekend YHA runs were introduced every few weeks. Time trialling was still the main racing activity and the club began promoting events – firstly a medium gear 25 whcih were held on Sunday mornings then many years of a hilly time trial, a 50 for a short while and then back to a 25 which continued at least until 2014. Ten mile TT's were not run.

Open events for our club were mainly in Kent, as travelling was not easy. We extended our horizons to the Crawley courses as you could ride out to them and in 1957 we affiliated to the East Sussex C.A

Tony West, Ron Hayward, Colin Gibb – 1951-2

Lou introduced a club touring competition in addition to the reliability rides already in existence. Southborough affiliated to the Kent and East Sussex Cycling Associations which dealt with time trialling. They also competed in Surrey events organised by the Southern Counties Cycling Union.

Warwick Dunford (“Spider”) and Les Hayman joined in the early years of the decade. Many ladies also came to ride and to race during these years.

Lou Bathurst time trialling in the 1950s. Catford Hill Climb TT left

Club ride, 1954. Warwick Dunford is second from right


Despite affordable motor cars attracting more people away from cycling and numbers generally decreasing, Southborough Wheelers bucked the trend and became the dominant social club in the area. The clubroom was still at Hillcot, Speldhurst where summer clubnights were alive with ballgames and indoor activities. Clubruns visited many places of interest and often took “off road” tracks. They produced a wealth of unusual events. Almost every run had some story to tell. Mike Daniels and Geoff Hayman were club captains (run leaders) during most of the time.

Club members often toured abroad, arranging their own trips and visits were made to most countries in Europe and Ireland.

On the racing side time trialling was still the main activity, concentrating on all distances to 12 hours. Road racing was just beginning but with very few events locally and car ownership still rare, Southborough had few enthusiasts.

Wheelers post club ride relaxation in Speldhurst, c.1960


This was a bad time for cyclists. The rise of the motor car and decline of riders led to cyclists being almost pushed off the roads. The club was no exception. Support for clubruns and racing declined in the first half of the decade. We vacated the Speldhurst clubroom when Mr & Mrs Chambers became too old. After a few temporary homes we built our own wooden clubroom on Council land in Powdermill Lane, Southborough. This was in 1973. In the same year Lou Bathurst died of a heart attack after 25 years of loyal service to the club and cycling generally. Warwick Dunford took over most of Lou’s duties.

Club numbers were swelled when many riders from South East London moved into the area. One was Alf Obbard who controlled and contributed to the clubroom construction. The work was carried out almost exclusively by club members. Another to join, was Pete Crofts who’s cycling record, before and since, has been remarkable. He began to lead clubruns and hostel trips at home and abroad. His encouragement of youngsters led to a great upturn in club fortunes. The club even played an annual football match against San Fairy Ann at the clubroom field.

This letter was written to Les Hayman in 1976 by Bill Underhill and explains the early years in the club's history.


Finally an upturn in cycling participation. The club developed a large and very fast time trial section with both men and women doing well, largely under Pete Croft’s guidance. The rising popularity of mountain bikes directed people towards off road riding, road racing was more common and Audax riding was a welcome form of clubrun.

Southborough Wheelers had always promoted open Time Trials and for many years one road race. The prestigious Kent C.A 12 hour time trial had been organised by a Southborough Wheelers almost e very year since 1968. This position was now transferred from Barbara Leyland to Esther Carpenter.  Esther has continued to do this job for over 30 years.

The Clubroom had been under attack from vandals since it was built and in July 1989, they finally succeeded in burning it down. Club members, led by Pete Holland, removed and buried its remains

Ian Silvester, Paul Abraham, Dave Harding, Andy Verrall, Dave Abraham & Matt Miles.

Photo taken by Peter Crofts just along from Sandown Court School - part of a club photo shoot in the early 80s 


A new decade and a new beginning. Club headquarters was a weekly clubnight at the Borderers sports pavilion in Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells. It attracted many new members at a time when cycling was proving popular nationally. The Watson family joined at the end of the eighties. They were joined by the MacNays, Nightingales, Peter Fox and Doug Finch.

In 1992, the Club held a Sports Day at The White Rock, Underriver, which included many sports on bicycles for the Club’s 60th Birthday celebrations.

Amongst all the usual club time trials, open time trials, road races etc. the club held a Biathlon against the Tunbridge Wells Runners. From 1994 to 1997, a Kent CA Roller Racing competition was held. Five clubs took part, Medway Velo, Dartford Wheelers, San Fairy Ann CC, Wigmore CC and Southborough. Competition was fierce over 500m and 1500m and proved very popular.

The massed rides of cyclo-sportives attracted Southborough riders in greater numbers as the years passed. Support for club evening time trials grew. The “Wednesday Wobblers” rides (a countrywide weekly cycling get-together) had a club contingent. The Abrahams and the Smiths being early supporters.

Peter and David Watson, and also Jimmy George took part in the National GHS 10 mile Juvenile Championships and the National Junior 25 mile Championships in this decade.


Neil Quarmby did much for Southborough. He helped with racing administration and produced the club magazine. This was a publication that dates back to 1949, with continuous publication since, sometimes monthly, but latterly quarterly. It had often been edited by lady members.

Martin Yardley and Alan Oakley started much needed encouragement for young cyclists through the National “Go-Ride” Scheme.

Some long standing activities included the promotion of a 10 mile time trial in the Bethersden area on New Years day. This race was first run in the early 1970’s when 1st January first became a Public Holiday. Another ride for club members closer to home, was the festive Boxing Day ride. This and the annual Reliability Ride have continued since 1950.


The death of Warwick Dunford in 2012 was a great loss for the club. His tireless work, included controlling the entire time trial programme, officiating at every club function, time keeping and acting as Chairman. He held the keys for the clubroom and worked for Kent and the National cycling bodies.

Club time trials and cyclo sportive events continue to be the best supported competitive activities.

With new club kit designed by Paul Hiscock, the club has reached out to more members.


The 2020s started off with great promise with a strong and growing Youth section, an active club ride community and a thriving off-road section which included having hosted its first BC CycloCross events with much success. 

Sadly the 2020 and early 2021 club activity was mostly limited to online cycling with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions putting pay to the most racing, group ride and social activities. Amidst this, the club committee moved online, we kept each other engaged through social media and the SDWasps online cycling community was formed. This latter led to considerable e-racing success for the club and invaluable group ride activity and social banter to help people through some challenging times.


Peter Crofts, August 2013 – still going strong at 74 years old

Some further history written by Les Hayman

The clubrun was a pivot for members as it always included a tea stop at 5.0 pm and those not out all day would often cycle to tea to catch up on club news. A monthly magazine was produced by getting Mrs. Constable to type it and make copies for distribution (on a gestetner machine, Isuppose). She ran a typing school in Tonbridge. The first editor, Margaret Cavie, was the first of a long line of lady editors.

The clubroom was a large hut at the back of a bungalow, “Hillside” on the hill to Speldhurst. It is still there though due for demolition soon. It served both before the war and for about 20 years after. Run by Mr. and Mrs. Chambers, it was a mecca as a tea stop for cyclists from clubs all over the south east.

Through this period, club organisation was dominated by “Lou” Bathurst and Warwick Dunford. Clubruns were held every week without fail. They lasted all day often visiting places of interest like castles, windmills etc and usually covered 60 to 80 miles. Weekend trips to Youth Hostels were popular once a month and longer trips at Bank Holidays went to the Isle of Wight, camping at the Cuckmere Haven and “round London” (Hertfordshire, Essex etc)

Several members took their annual holidays together, cycling on the continent, to the Alps and the Pyrennes, and to Ireland.

Grass track racing took place in the early post-war years and Geoff Abraham rode these. The circuits were round Southborough common and once a year at the County cricket ground in Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells. These faded out about 1954 and time trialling was the only racing until Road Races (massed start then) began nearer to home in the early 1960s. The club were prominent in the Kent C.A Time Trial circles and did well at the distance events of 100 miles and 12 hour. Ron Hayward dominated the scene then and still rides (on a trike) today.

The decline in cycling generally through the 1970s was due to the roads being swamped by motor cars, making riding more dangerous. In the 1980’s, things began to change. Mountain bikes had arrived. Road Racing gained in popularity and people began to appreciate the healthier value of cycling. Several families moved out of the London area to settle in this part of Kent and Southborough Wheelers benefited. Alf Obbard (ex Bellingham Wheelers) was the prime mover in constructing the club’s own clubhouse in Powdermill Lane. Peter Baker also did much for the club. This was originally a superb looking building made from old builders huts, but vandals began to reduce its elegance. This is where we played football against San Fairy Ann for several years. One of our stars was John Harding (ex Eltham Paragon). We also played a cycle polo match at Croydon, where our star was Pete Wall (ex Norwood Paragon).

The greatest benefit to Southborough from the London overspill was Pete Crofts (ex East Surrey Road Club). He led many gentle clubruns, took Youth Hostel trips and led many tours for youngsters. Some trips took them to France. He was already a racing star on track, road racing and time trialling. He inspired our riders to reach great heights. In earlier years, Ron Hayward, Clive Ashby, the Orchard twins, Clive and Graham, and the Withers twins, Malcolm and Geoff had led the time triallists, but now Pete Crofts encouraged Paul and Dave Abraham, Dave Harding, Ian Silvester and Matthew Miles to faster times and club records. 

The ladies had a more sketchy history. Dawn Chivers (later Hayward) was the first successful racer, then Pam Wells (later Manser) joined the club briefly and set new records. Carole Gandy had a short stint with Southborough and broke all the records again. In the 1980s, we saw great competition from the ladies, Jean Smith, Hazel Whitehouse, Val Peachey and Maureen Wall, all vied for fastest times. The Club was on a high. 

Tonbridge by-pass had opened in 1971 and a fast 10 course was created. The 1970s and 1980s saw huge fields for open events. Some were promoted by the Club. Tony and Val Peachey were club members then and did a lot to see the success of so much time trialling.

Warwick continued to steer the club throughout this period with Ron Hayward, his wife Veronica and Robin Howard maintaining the clubroom. Ron and Veronica also did much catering for events both locally and at open time trials.

Change took place in 1989 when the vandals eventually managed to burn the clubroom to the ground. We moved once or twice and eventually settled on our present site at the Borderers clubroom. Phoenix had arisen from the ashes.

Les Hayman


History of the Club Trophies

ALAN BATHURST Memorial Trophy. (1974) “Lou” Club member 1949 to 1974. Superb administrator for club, county and national cycling bodies. Acted as club captain racing secretary, chairman and president at various times. Raced regularly.

Mens 10 Mile Championship (VAL PEACHEY–1982) Val Peachey cycled for many years, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, she was editor of our club magazine (the period of her Southborough membership). She raced often in time trials.

Mens 25 Mile Championship (G. ABRAHAM–1982) Geoff Abraham joined Southborough in 1948. After a period away (1955 –1975), he came back and has cycled ever since. He raced in his early days and has held several committee posts.

BRYAN Jubilee 50 Mile Trophy (1935)
A Surname, I presume. Neither Geoff Abraham, Ron Hayward or me (Les Hayman) know anything about him.

B. LEYLAND 100 mile Trophy (1935)
Father of Brian Leyland who was a club member for a few years about 1960. His father never cycled.

G. CHEESEMAN 12 hour Trophy (1971) George was a club member 1952 to 1993. Some racing and clubruns etc, but mainly a useful handyman. A carpenter by trade.

L. HORSEFIELD Senior BAR Trophy (1957) Club member 1947 to about 1960. Very energetic in restarting Southborough Wheelers after the war. Very competent administrator acting as secretary, treasurer, chairman and president. A pre-war cyclist with the Velma C.C (a London Club) and occasional potterer with Southborough.S&DW

Veterans Trophy (replacing the former ANN & DAVID JOYCE Trophy) Dave and Ann Joyce were club members when they lived in this area briefly in the 1970s.

W. JAY Ladies 10 mile Trophy (1953) W. Jay Club member 1930, 40s and 50s. Cycled pre-war and occasional potters with Southborough’s “Potterers” runs in the 1940s and 50s.

MAJOR RUFFELL Junior Championship Trophy (1932)
Major Ruffell was never a cyclist, but was a jeweller in Tunbridge Wells. His shop was near the Opera House (Wetherspoons) in the 1930s. He sponsored many sports organisations.

DON ROBB Boys Trophy (1971) Don Robb was an active cyclist with the club from about 1970 to 1993. He promoted some time trials.

A. HAYWARD Memorial Trophy (1958) Tony Hayward was the younger brother of Ron Hayward (long term member and president) Tony rode with the club for one year, but was killed by a hit-and-run driver on the Pembury Road, Tunbridge Wells. He was cycling home after visiting his sister.

E. MASKELL Merit Trophy (1950) “Eric” Maskell was never a cyclist. He was editor of the “Tonbridge Free Press”, a local paper for many years.

S&DW Road Race Trophy (P. BAKER-1974)
Peter Baker cycled regularly from the 1940s to at least 2012. Between 1970 and 1980, he was a Southborough member. He was secretary for many years and President for three. He was largely instrumental in the construction of the club hut in Powdermill Lane (1973 to 1989).

“Hythe” Cup (R&V HAYWARD–25 years of Time Trialling with Southborough 1975-1992) Scratch points winner (from 2002). Ron Hayward was an ace racing man from 1949 til 1978 when ill health reduced his activities. Despite multiple sclerosis, he continued to ride (on a tricycle) at least until 2012, when he was still a club member. With his wife, Veronica, he ran many, many tea and refreshment canteens for riders after events.

The SPEARTH Challenge. Lanterne Rouge (1994) Introduced for the slowest of the “old Boys” still racing, Maurice SPEAR and Graham SEATH were active in the club in the 1980s and 1990s. Graham had cycled with the club regularly in his young days (1960s) Both eventually moved away from the district, although we often see Graham at Doug Finch’s Open 10.

WARWICK DUNFORD Trophy (2012) “Spider” was a club member 1952 –2012, brilliant administrator, club captain, racing secretary, treasurer, chairman and president. Served in County and national posts on time trial matters. Raced occasionally.

There was an E. ROBBINS Tourist Trophy. Ernie Robbins did not cycle but ran a cycle shop in St. Johns throughout the 1950s

The Henderson Cup was added to the trophy collection in 2021 to recognise our Online Cycling Club Champions. Named after Keith Henderson -  our inaugral winner in 2020 and also in recognition of his multiple road and hill climb championships, committee member contributions and youth coach devotion. 

If any members or past members can provide any further detailed history of the club, particularly through the 1980s to the present day, then please send content to the Website contact on the Contact us page. Thanks.

Club history