The “Club” was originally formed in 1935 by an amalgamation of Bream Cycling Club and some members of Ross Cycling Club who lived in the Forest of Dean. Obviously the war stopped most people from cycling very much and a lot of potential riders were “drafted away”.
The club, as we now know it, was reformed in 1949 using the Fountain Inn, Parkend as it’s headquarters. It has since moved several times, the first of which was in 1954 to the Globe Inn, Berry Hill close to Berry Hill Sports Ground where Reg Berrow organised annual grass track racing in conjunction with the local sports day. The last “grass track” was held in 1958 with John Hall of the Ross on Wye Club being the only rider to compete on that day and was still riding a bike up until 2008. The Club moved again in 1957 to the “tin hut” on the Sports Ground and stayed there until the club went into serious decline in the early 1960’s. In 1961 the Club held the Western Division Hill Climb on Worrall Hill.
The club was reformed in 1970 with Cyril Adams as President and Reg Berrow as Secretary and moved to Close Turf between Bream and St Briavel’s in 1972. Racing was organised both time trial and road racing; the Club had its own 10 mile Time Trial course which it still uses today from Lydbrook to Walford and back. The 25 mile course was from Monmouth down the A466 through Tintern to the top of the hill opposite the back entrance to Livox Quarry, this course was used from 1949 but had to be abandoned when traffic lights were put on Bigsweir Bridge. One Sunday in Tintern on a Club ’25’ a very stubborn policeman was doing a speed check inside the 30 mph limit coming down towards the Abbey. He stopped all riders who were over the speed limit and cautioned them, completely fouling up the race. A similar incident occurred in 2014 during the “new” Tintern 10 mile time trial when a posse of police motorcyclists training for the Tour de France in Yorkshire interrupted several riders race by getting them to either stop or pull over. Members also rode in road races in Somerset, Wiltshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire and members held their own Cinderford Road Races in 1956 – 1958 but this was never followed up.
What started as a challenge in 1953 became a regular 25 mile Time Trial between Redmon CC (Morden) near London, Newport Phoenix and the Forest Club. The trophy was a large tankard known as the Vintage Tankard.The event was based at The Vintage pub in Sutton Benger in Wiltshire, deemed to be central to the London — Newport axis. The course was the U80 used until the M4 caused road changes and the revised course was the U88 and was used until the 2003 when the Redmon club finally couldn’t find the necessary 6 riders to form a team. The race still takes place on the first Sunday in October; now raced annually/consecutively between Newport Phoenix, Ross on Wye CC and the Forest Club. In this era most other club time trial courses were any ‘open’ races in South Wales for 50 miles, 100 miles or 12 hour events. The Club’s own 50 mile course was an addition to the original 25 mile by going out to Abergavenny and back. This was doomed when the lights were put on the Bigsweir Bridge and also lights on Monmouth Bridge to link the A40.
Another “Challenge” course was one devised to follow on from the “Salmon Supper” donated by Friends of the Forest. Only people who attended the supper at Close Turf and agreed to race and drink could participate the drinking started at 8 pm and continued till 11.30 pm each drink was recorded by the marshal depending on the riders age.Next morning both age and consumption helped with the handicap. Some members “well oiled” by midnight were almost guaranteed a good ride in the morning. The course latterly was starting at the end of Bream on the Parkend Road turning left at the Parkend Pike then left at Coalway, left at Milkwall, left at Lambsquay, left down Bream Avenue and finishing at the Maypole Junction.
Annual Club Dinners were a regular event normally held on the first Saturday in November to “kick off” the social season. Tintern was the original venue but in 1961 after 171 people attended the Anchor Hotel we were asked not to return because the carpets got rather wet with beer. The Club has since been to the Feathers, Close Turf Club, The Fountain Inn, Victoria Hotel, Newnham , Beecenhurst Lodge, Miner’s Whitecroft. After a number of years when racing membership was low a resurgence happened in 1978 when it was decided to restart the 10 mile Time Trial as a season long championship and apply for a race on the Monmouth-Usk road in 1980. It was also decided at the AGM of 1979 that the Club restart the B.A.R (Best All Rounder) over 10 miles, 25 miles and 50 miles and U or R courses. Club racing vests in green and yellow were available for the first time. In 1980 we were asked to restart ‘road racing’ as Cinderford Town wanted a cycle race to be part of their Town Carnival, the first road race since 1961. It was a success and Bart Venner suggested that the Club held it’s own race in 1981. It was agreed that we start with a 3rd Category and Junior event on a Friday evening in July. The AGM in 1980 showed that we were in better shape having held our first 25, our first road race and won the Benger Vintage Tankard. The Club agreed to affiliate to the RTTC, BCF, Welsh CA and Western RTTA. We also said that the Club should create a new constitution and rules before the 1st of January 1981. Howard Baker also became Club President.
The racing season of 1981 was a great success for the club: running our first Open 25 on the R25/7; the Cinderford Carnival Road Race was bigger and better and this bode well for 1982. In 1983 it was known that the Club should hold a 2 day racing programme of 3rd Cats/Juniors on 25th June and lst/2nd Cats on 26th June with £300 sponsorship for prizes. We were again organising the Cinderford Carnival race in August. In 1984 the 2 race programme prizes had been increased to £340. The Open 25 mile Time Trial on the Usk-Monmouth road was proving very popular with the final one having 200 entries and the second one almost full by 11th June for a race in late July. The Club also agreed to hold a “Hilly 29 mile Time Trial” in the March of each year, the course based on the A4136 from Berry Hill to Huntley, joining the A40 to Lea and then around Bulls Hill, Cats Hill, Ruardean, Lydbrook and English Bicknor quite some challenge. In 1985 the road races were reduced to a 2nd/3rd Cat race on 22nd June using a new route Cinderford – Brierley – Edge End — Poolway — Broadwell – Speech House – Cinderford, reported to be the best we had organized! Once again the Cinderford Carnival event was held to great acclaim.
Not everything had happy outcomes however. In the winter of 1980 Bill Walton, a very likeable club member of 29th Wheelers, was killed on Bream Avenue he was hit from behind by a car travelling at very high speed. Bill was actually off the road on the offside by a good yard when the car just ploughed into him, killing him instantly. It was agreed that a 25 mile Trophy be purchased, engraved and raced for by Club members in his memory. Bill’s ashes were scattered by Club members near the Speech House. We also lost Chris Ball who died out on Plump Hill on a Club run.He had a massive heart attack. “Mouse” Carpenter an original club member died early in 1985.
One memorable record was created in the racing season of 1984. Gareth Williams road in the Welsh CA 12 hour and recorded over 253 miles; few members ride in 12 hour Time Trials. This fine record stood until 2010 when Andrew Jones broke the record in the same event achieving an impressive 254.7 miles made all the more remarkable as only the previous day he had returned from a week- long tour of France racking up 1000 miles plus in Glos Velo’s “Shed to the Med” Tour. It could be some time again before this mark is improved upon.
The Club was asked by the Western Division to hold the Junior and Senior Road Races in 1986 plus the Cinderford Carnival Road Race. The Senior Road Race was held over 6 laps of the Cinderford- Coleford circuit as listed previously. The courses in the Dean were used from 1980 through to the mid 1990’s. The Club had a Time Trial once along part of the A48 in Lydney for the Whitecross School Carnival starting at the Greyhound pub and finishing at the Town Hall. Because of time restrictions we had special dispensation to close the A48 for 20 minutes setting off 2 riders every 15 seconds, to agree to Highways and Police requirements. The Club also held a successful Criterium around the centre of Coleford once a year to correspond to their carnival together with a longer road race on the Sunday morning.
Mountain Bike Races organized by the Club started in 1990 with 184 entries through all the age categories on 26th February and the second event was held in October 1990. Andrew Jenkins was the driving force for these events in the Cannop area. He also promoted the Club’s Cyclo Cross races in the Yorkley area in 1990, 1991 and 1992. The 1990 Cinderford Carnival race had a full start sheet of 60 riders, another first, because the Club took 14 reserves in to fill for the “drop out” riders. The Club held the BCF Divisional Championships in 1991 which had to be 75 miles plus, so it was 7 laps of our long course and took from 0900 to 1330 for all the finishers to complete the race. The Club took great benefit and kudos from the successful road races starting with the Cinderford Carnival race in 1980. Bart Venner had organised all the races up to 1991 eventually handing over control to Andrew Jenkins. Road racing kept going until 1994 failing to continue largely because the Police would not help with traffic control. In the autumn of 1991 the Club had 400 riders for the All Terrain Bike racing event.
Time trialling continued as before but with not so many club members on the road however in 1992 the Club retained the “Vintage Tankard”. The Hilly 29 was also held on through and into the early 1990’s ceasing in 1995 this time due to traffic lights.
The Club folded again in 1996 due to lack of members. Bart Venner was asked in October 1997 to reform the club. He contacted the older members of the last known list of members and called a meeting on Friday 21st November in the Fountain Inn, Parkend. Present that evening was Reg Berrow, Ivan Walker, Don Gittings, Bob Ruck and Jim Riches. Bob Ruck became Treasurer, Jim Riches Secretary, Bart Venner Chairman. It was agreed that the initial meeting be held on the first Wednesday of January 1997 and follow on the same night each month thereafter. The AGM would be the first Wednesday in November and the Annual Dinner/Social Event to be the first Saturday in November. The first four months were difficult in getting old members to rejoin but we should persevere as our 50th Anniversary was due in July 1999 and we shouldn’t fold again. From that time the Club has totally reformed to its present position. Club members were shocked by the news of the sudden death of one of our founder members Ivan Walker died peacefully at home in July 1999. Ivan had lived long enough to see the club reach its 50th anniversary.
In 2003 the triangular event the “Vintage 25” was terminated in its original format at Sutton Benger because the Redmon Club had not “fielded” a proper team for years. The course the U88 had become a “rat run” on Sunday mornings especially if the M4 was very busy, making the minor roads of the event rather dangerous. The event is now held between Newport Phoenix, Ross on Wye and the Forest Club on a course in each locality annually in turn. Sadly, our last President and life-long cyclist, a founder member of the “Forest” and former member of the Bream Cycling Club in the 1930’s – Reg Berrow died in the Autumn of 2006.