A brief history of Pontypool Road Cycling Club
(by Geoff Rees - Club Historian)
There has been a cycling club in Pontypool since the 1880's and during the 1900's cycling in Britain really took off in popularity. South Wales was no different, in fact Wales had a World Champion in 1895 - Jimmy Michael of Aberaman C.C. setting a new World Hour Record in Paris. Because of this cycling clubs proliferated in most South Wales Valley towns.
The forerunner to the present club was Pontypool & District Cycle & Athletic Club, who rode in white jerseys with green bands. It's not known when this club began but between 1935 and 1941 the two factions of cycling and athletics split and Pontypool Road Cycling Club was formed, following a meeting at The Hanbury Hotel, Griffithstown. Club colours were Red jerseys with Black, White and Black bands, the same colours used to this day.
Records show that a club 25ml time trial on May 30th 1937 had 18 competitors with H Thomas fastest in 1hr 9min 38 secs. Race secretary was C.S. Vaughan and the course ran from the bottom of the Horse and Jockey pitch to near Caerleon and back, via Usk.
Although it was depleted in numbers the club continued through the 2nd World War - a club 25 tt on Sunday 12th October 1941 had 9 starters, H Thomas again the fastest but in a slower time of 1hr 14min 13 secs. The event was timed by the then club chairman E.J.Jenkins.
1946 saw Stan Morgan of Newbridge join the club and during that year he became the number one cyclist in South Wales. He came first in the South Wales 12hr and the Manchester 12 hr, where he beat Ron Kitching into second place and in the British Best All Rounder competition he came 10th. He also rode the Paris-London Road Race in 1948.
The club continued quite strongly into the 1950's, records for 1953 showing 31 members with John Powell setting a new club record for 10 miles - 24 mins 52 secs, not a slow time even today. 1954 saw Phil Waring being good enough to be selected to ride for Wales in The British Empire and Commonwealth Games at Vancouver, Canada and four years later in 1958 another clubman, Clive Rees, was selected to ride the track events in the Empire Games at Cardiff.
The end of the 'fifties' brought to a close what some say were cyclings' glory years and it also saw many older members drift away. But nevertheless an influx of youngsters carried the club into the 'sixties' and one stalwart of the 'fifties' who continued was Keith Harding, who made sure club traditions were maintained.
The late 'sixties' saw a young Wally Ham join the club. Under Keiths guidance Wally soon started making his presence felt on the time-trialing scene. Breaking most of the club's records, Wally went on to win and set records across South Wales and the West country. He was consistently one of the fastest riders at 10,25,50,100 miles and 12hrs. Winning the Welsh Best All Rounder Championship more than once, only the lack of transport restricted his area of competing.
Through the 'seventies' to the 'nineties' the club's fortunes yo-yo'd, at times just a couple of riders keeping the name going, at other times there'd be 30 on a club run.
Nevertheless here we are in the 21st century with the club still going as strong as ever, and with the recent upturn in cycling popularity the club has attracted new members once again, resulting in a strong and vibrant cyling club.