Ernie Clements, George Halls, Jim Jones and John Godding
Posted: Friday 21st August 2020
Here is a picture of me around 1956-7 with my first proper racing bike. I bought the Ernie Clements frame new from Fred Stanley’s cycle shop (now George Halls Cycles – see below) in Market Harborough. I thought Ernie Clements sounded a bit too “eee-by-gum” so I shortened it (badly) to Clement on the downtube, which seemed altogether more continental. How daft can you get!
My bike here had a Benelux gear, butchered Brooks B15 saddle, mandatory copy of Cycling magazine to wrap around the spare tub underneath the saddle (unless you managed to steal a Walls ice cream plastic poster from outside a corner shop). Also Campag gear lever rubbers, the only Campag thing I could afford. When I left Market Harborough I ended up in what is now Telford in Shropshire where Ernie Clements and his brothers were the local legends of cycling, everything revolving around their father’s shop in Oakengates. I never met him, although I saw his brother Frank race as a pro in the highly successful Elswick Hopper team, and met brother Roy at the funeral of former national junior road and veteran national cyclo-cross champion Graham Bufton, who was helped cosiderably by Ernie over the years.
George Halls became a top road rider, winning the national Star Trophy and the best British performer in the world championships at least once. He rode as an independent/pro for Sid Mottram and later Bantel, who also used Mercian frames (one of which I still have, still with the original chrome). He also rode in the first Wembley six-day in the 1960s and became a consistent pro-race winner.
Here’s one of George Halls getting ready for a Tour of Britain in the early 1960s. His bike is an Ephgrave, the name had to be blanked out because the local paper wanted to use the photo and amateurs were not allowed to be pictured “advertising” their bikes for fear of being declared professional. It has a Brooks B17 saddle, Stronglight chainset, Campagnolo gears, pedals and hubs. Sprint wheels and tubulars (universal for racers then) and Mafac centrepull brakes. Note the collar and tie in the bike shed!
Jim Jones of Kettering, was a top 50-mile time trialist in the 1960s and is shown being congratulated by the chairman of Market Harborough urban council after winning the first ABC Road Race in the early 1960s, which was also the first race to be organised on the Naseby circuit, which passes through the civil war battlefield site.
Jim was a combative road racer with a deep hated of “idle bas***ds” who wouldn’t “go through a do a turn on the front”. Particularly “soft southerners” (anyone south of Bedford). Jim lived in Corby and rode every day to his job as a compositor on the Northants Evening Telegraph in Kettering over 10 miles away. Now, in retirement, he can still be seen piling in the miles round his favourite Northamptonshire training circuits. His frame then was a Cottingham with all the usual Campagnolo and Mafac goodies.
John Gooding was a top junior in the late 1950s and then came back from National Service to become a first category roadman for various clubs including Welland Valley Wheelers, Rugby Velo Club and Leicester Pegasus.
Here, in his junior days, he is on yet another Ephgrave, with Bartalli brake levers, Simplex gears and highly fashionable (for a mercifully short time) South of France handlebars. He still makes an annual pilgrimage to see the Tour of Flanders in Belgium, and is still known in Market Harborough as “John Godding the cyclist”.