Dukinfield Cyclists’ Club commonly known as ‘The Duks’ is one of the oldest established clubs in the country. It is likely that the club was born out of a cycling section of Dukinfield Harriers (now East Cheshire Harriers). John Norton White a surveyor from nearby Stalybridge gathered together 10 of his friends who had an interest in cycling for a meeting at the Astley Coffee Tavern in Dukinfield and on 17th March 1885 the club was born. The first President was Lord of the Manor Sir A. W. Nicholson of Arisaig with three other MP’s as Vice Presidents.
Originally members were encouraged to ride for Standard medals over specified distances and times but on September 14th 1889 the clubs first time trial miles was held over 25 miles on a course around Macclesfield, Monks Heath and Congleton. During this period it was not uncommon for events to be disrupted by police often on horseback and in 1890 in fear of a total ban of all cycling the National Cyclists Union banned racing on all UK public roads. In spite of this the event seems to have been run for a further five years until 1894.
It is not clear from the club archives what format these early time trials took but it has always been run as a handicap event and so company riding although not forbidden was unlikely to occur. Credit for the worlds first unpaced time trial as we know it is presently given to North Road Cycling Club for their 50 mile time trial on October 5th 1895 under the influence of F.T. Bidlake. But if this Dukinfield club event was unpaced then this may have been the world’s first time trial.
The winner of that first event in 1889 and no doubt depicted on the photograph was C.H. Morris in a time of 1.47.00. John Norton White himself won the event in 1890 and 1891 taking the event record down to 1.33.35 and it his his name which bears the name of the current trophy. John Norton White remained in the club until his death in 1939 during which time he served as President for 26 years and club delegate to the National Cyclists Union for 45 years. For a couple of years after 1894 the event was run as a track race and then discontinued but in 1921 just prior to the formation of the Road Racing Council the event was resurrected and held over the same roads as the original event. It has been held every year since then, still as a handicap event but now reduced to a 10 due to road alterations and the elimination of ‘dead turns’ in the road. Todays course uses part of that original along the now A34 between Congleton and Siddington and marks the 106th running of the event.
During the latter part of the 1920’s club members were competing in many open time trials and brothers Albert and Stan Livingston were winning many of them. With this in mind, in 1928 it was decided to hold a 50 mile open time trial. J Norton White was timekeeper for that first event which was won in a very quick (for the time) 2.14.42 by W. Ward of Stretford Wheelers which was a Manchester area record. The following years event was won by Stan Livingston from the Duks. The event continues to this day and is an acknowledged ‘classic’ in the time trial calendar. Next year will be its 92nd consecutive running making it the oldest continuously running 50 in the country. Traditionally this is always the opening 50 of the year in the Manchester area and is presently held in early May.
Past winners of the event read like a who’s who of British time trialling from Ernie Mills in 1939 to Doug Hartley from the Duks during the 1940’s, Bill Bradley also from the Duks and Peter Walthall in the 50’s, Vic Marcroft and Mick Potts the 60’s, Nick Copeman and Keith Boardman the 70’s, Dave Lloyd, Darryl Webster and Ian Cammish in the 80’s when the event was one of Cycling Weekly’s Holdsworth Classic League events. More recent winners include Andy Wilkinson, Mark Lovatt, Charles McCulloch, Dave Cook, Simon Bridge, Charles Taylor and this year Mark Turnbull. The most recent winner from the Duks was Jimmy Froggatt in 2002. The magnificent team shield goes back to that very first event.
The heyday of the Duks was undoubtedly during the 1930’s and 40’s with the most prominent rider being Doug Hartley who won close to 100 open events during the inter war years including the Bath RC 100 in 1942 and the Duks 50 in 1942 and 1943 and in 1944 along with Norman Howe and John Bell the Duks were the inaugural winners of the BBAR team competition.
In more recent times prominent riders have included Steve Butterworth, Jimmy Froggatt and Rob Nelson. Steve Butterworth holds club records over 50, 100 and 12 hours and Jimmy Froggatt who was placed 9th in the 2002 National 25 with 52.44 holds the 25 mile and 24 hour records with 412 miles. Rob Nelson was Manchester BAR from 2002-2004.
Over the last 10 years the club has been less prominent on the time trial scene but have branched out into Audax rides and sportives as well as trips abroad to watch the Tour. Rob Nelson and club captain Martin Gray have become notorious for their epic Summer tours riding all the big climbs in Europe. A midweek MTB section has also grown with regular trips to the Alps. With a current membership of around 40 the club is alive and well after 134 years.