The F. T. Bidlake Memorial Trust

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News updated 1 April 2014

Bidlake Memorial Fund
     By George Moore 1889

 

 

Frederick Thomas Bidlake, affectionately known as ’Biddy’, was a dominant figure in the cycling world for almost two generations.  He was an outstanding competitor.  His achievements on the tricycle were sensational.  In two 24-hour races Bidlake proved the fastest tricyclist, finishing second to the redoubtable Frank Shorland riding a bicycle.  One of these contests was on the road and the other on the Herne Hill track – his tricycle record of 410 miles 1,110 yards set up in that famous Cuca Cup race still stood at the date of his death, 40 years later.  He broke countless road and path records.  At one time he held the whole sequence of tricycle road records from 50 miles to 24 hours, and among other records were the London to York (three times) and the 12 and 24 hours tandem-tricycle record with M. A. Holbein.  In total he broke 11 Road Records Association tricycle records. 

He was an outstanding administrator and represented cyclists on the Advisory Body of the Ministry of Transport when that body existed in the nineteen twenties.  At the time of his death he was President of the North Road C.C., Vice-President of the Cyclists’ Touring Club and President of the Road Records Association of which he was a founder member and a member of its committee for 43 years.  He was the father of time trial sport, the first chairman of the Road Racing Council – the predecessor of the Road Time Trials Council – and a founder of that Body.  It was Bidlake who thought of the Cyclists’ War Memorial, erected at Meridan near Coventry, and he was one of the five conservators. 

In addition to being a writer of distinction, Bidlake was a noted official timekeeper, timing innumerable Road Records Association records and time trials.  He was the first timekeeper to be appointed by the R.A.C.  In the late twenties and early thirties, he also timed the famous Schneider Trophy races for seaplanes.   

When it was announced that Bidlake would retire at the end of 1933 to his ancestral home, Great Bidlake in Devon, he was so respected that a testimonial fund was instituted for him.  

On Sunday, 27th August 1933, returning to his London home from one of his customary runs on the North Road he was knocked down by a motorcar as he descended Barnet Hill.  His bicycle was smashed but his injuries appeared superficial and he was able to proceed home without medical attention.  However, the accident had administered a shock to his nervous system and he rapidly developed alarming symptoms, sank into semi-consciousness and died on 17th September 1933.  The Testimonial Fund therefore became a Memorial Fund.  A small plot of land at Poplar Fork, Girtford Bridge, was purchased and E. A. Boyle of the Bath Road Club, a professional architect, designed a Memorial Garden.  

The Memorial Garden comprises a triangular plot.  On one side there is a wall built from local stone.  In the centre of the wall is a stone inscribed “This garden is dedicated to Frederick Thomas Bidlake, a great cyclist, a man of singular charm and character, an untiring worker for cyclists 1867-1933”.  In the centre of the plot is a sundial on the base of which is inscribed the words “He measured time”.  At the apex of the plot is a facsimile milestone engraved “F. T. B.  Few have known this road as he. London 48 - York 148”.   

On 23rd September 1934, the Sunday after the North Road C. C. ‘24’, before a crowd of more than 4,000, W. P. Cook, President of the Anfield Bicycle Club and the Road Records Association, performed the unveiling ceremony and the Rector of Sandy blessed the Memorial.   The balance of the Fund was invested and an award of a plaque is made annually for the most outstanding performance or contribution to the betterment of cycling in any sphere with emphasis on that year.  The Fund is also used for maintenance of the Memorial Garden.   

The Secretary occasionally receives requests for the scattering of ashes.   Such requests are dealt with sympathetically and a donation towards the upkeep of the Garden is greatly appreciated.  A recent bequest from North Roader Tim Dolphin has allowed the committee to replace the sundial, vandalised years ago.  For safety this is located with the Secretary and can usually be made available by arrangement.

Read Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Thomas_Bidlake

F.T.BIDLAKE
Road Records Association records bettered up during his career

1889 100 miles Tricycle
1889 London to York Tricycle
1890 24 hour Tricycle
1892 London to York Tricycle
1892 London to York Tricycle
1893 24 hour Tandem Tricycle with M Holbein
1894 50 Miles Tricycle
1894 12 hour Tricycle
1894 12 hour Tandem Tricycle with M. Holbein
1894 24 hour Tricycle
1895 100 miles Tricycle
6. 55.58
18. 28.00
289 miles
15. 28. 00
13. 19. 00
333 miles
2. 22. 55
194.5 miles
181.5 miles
356.5 miles
5. 15. 57

Member of the R.R.A, Committee, 1891 to 1933
President Road Records Association 1924 to 1933
First Chairman Road Racing Council 1922 to 1923
President North Road Cycling Club 1914 to 1933

EXPLANATION OF THE PLAQUE

F. T. BIDLAKE'S PORTRAIT
IN THE CENTRE

THE WINGED WHEEL
IN RECOGNITION OF HIS CYCLING RECORDS

THE STRAIGHT ROAD
REPRESENTS THE GREAT NORTH ROAD
WHERE HE CARRIED OUT MOST OF HIS CYCLING

THE POPLAR TREES
AT THE CORNER OF THE OLD
A1 & SHEFFORD LANE WHERE HE TIMED

THE HOUR GLASS
IN RECOGNITION OF HIS TIMEKEEPING ABILITIES

THE RISING SUN
REPRESENTING THE EARLY HOUR THAT CYCLING
TIME TRIALS TOOK PLACE

TWO PENS IN SALTIRE
RECOGNISING HIS JOURNALISTIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE ABILITY

THE "66" MILESTONE
HIS AGE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH

THE LOWER PLATE
FOR THE INSCRIPTION OF EACH YEARS WINNER
 


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