As the OVO Energy Women’s Cycle Tour of Great Britain visited Rushden on 14 June 2018, for the Rushden to Daventry stage of the Tour, I thought it appropriate to mention the first Cycle Parade in Rushden in 1899.  It was first proposed in September 1899 by the Beaumont Cycle Club with a view to raising money for local charities.  A Public Meeting was held in Messrs. Lilley and Skinner’s room, and it was thought that there would be plenty of support and that prizes might be donated by local tradesmen.  The chairman, Mr. S. Hirons, said he believed there were over 1,000 cyclists in Rushden so they should be able to carry out a parade in good style without outside help, but it was thought that cyclists from Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, Finedon, Kettering and Wellingborough would want to take part.  The Ambulance Corps offered their services as collectors.

The proposal was carried and it was decided to hold the parade on Saturday 4th November.  I don’t know why they chose November; they surely weren’t expecting a warm sunny day.  Maybe once they had decided that a parade was a good idea they wanted to get on with it and couldn’t wait until the spring.  However, a committee was appointed with Mr. J. W. Waite as secretary and Mr. Hirons as treasurer.

Unfortunately, when the day arrived the weather was bad. The Raunds, Finedon and Wellingborough clubs failed to turn up, and the Kettering clubs decided to attend an event elsewhere.   In spite of this, the parade was a big success with crowds of people lining the streets.  Mrs. Sartoris kindly allowed the grounds of Rushden Hall to be used, and the competitors assembled there in the afternoon for the judging.  The Beaumont Cycle Club won a cup value £2  2s., presented by the Osmond Cycle Co., for the largest number of decorated cycles and riders.
Police motor cyclists in Rushden Hall Grounds on 14 June 2018.
After the judging various streets of the town were paraded with the Temperance Band and the Station Road Mission Band taking part and playing some suitable music.  A public tea was held in the New Hall at 5 p.m., the tables being decorated with plants supplied by Mr. F. Betts.  Miss Sartoris presented the prizes to the successful competitors.

Later an illuminated parade took place, prizes being awarded to the best illuminated cycles.  The parade was headed by the Fire Brigade under Captain Fred Knight, with the manual drawn by two horses.  Each fireman carried a lighted torch.  The Temperance Band and the Station Road Mission Band played again.

A Balance Sheet was prepared which showed the total receipts at £41  11s.  6d.  After expenses had been taken out the committee had a sum of £25  10s.  9d. to dispose of.

£ S d
Temperance Band 1 11 6
Station Road Mission Band 1 1 6
Contributions to the police dinner fund 10 6
Northampton Infirmary 2 2 0
Rushden Ambulance Corps 20 4 0
Stamps and cheques 1 9
Total 25 10 9
Despite the bad weather the event was considered a great success and it was decided to make it an annual event.

The OVO Energy Women’s Cycle Tour of Great Britain is obviously a much bigger event, but there are similarities.  The Hall Park was used in both events, the Fire and Rescue were in attendance, several ambulances, and more police that we usually see in Rushden.  We were more fortunate with the weather, although rain threatened several times, but there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement in the town and a good crowd of people watching.  We also had our share of decorated cycles round the town, so I think this year’s event can also be considered a great success.

Cyclists leaving the Hall Park 14 June 2018

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