01 December 2015

This Film Is Rated "T" (For Tweed)

Knickers.  Breeches. Knee socks.  Cardigans.  Blazers.  Rounded collars.  Pleated shorts.  Tweed! 

If you think that sounds like a sartorial portrait of a bunch of English men and women going on a bicycle tour in the country side circa 1955, well, your instincts are spot-on.  Those folks are indeed on their way to a jolly spin along the lanes that traverse  the moors and heaths, and front the castles and barns, in and around Rugby.

Apparently, the cycle-touring culture of London was still strong enough in the 1950s that British Transport commissioned a short film I've embedded here.  It chronicles a "Cyclists' Special" rail excursion from London to Rugby arranged by British Rail and the venerable Cyclists' Touring Club (C.T.C.)

It's interesting to hear discussions of "bonking" and the costliness of  good touring bikes with the then-newfangled ten-speed derailleur gears.  British cyclists only began to embrace derailleurs during the 1950's; until then, most cycle-tourists rode some version or another of Sturmey Archer's internally-geared hubs, even on frames custom-built from Reynolds 531 tubing.

I also love seeing those old wooden rail cars with rubber hooks for bicycles and the cafeteria car.  And tweed!  And some of those men are actually wearing ties.  Oh, my!


Cyclists Special, a short film about cycle touring in the UK, 1955 from Morgan Fletcher on Vimeo.


  1. Woah! A wormhole through time and space! That was the world I was born into, Warwick castle was my first long expedition before I even started dreaming about gears for my bike. Bikes have not changed all that much but thank goodness the clothes have.

    Miss those quiet roads...

  2. Coline--Your first long expedition was to Warwick Castle? I'm envious!

    I, too, am glad the clothes have changed, although those old ones are fun to look at.