Classic cycling photos

This is another collection of classic time trial photos from the Bernard Thompson collection. I have already published some of these on my last cycling blog, but this is a new collection from the 280 images, and bigger sized (640px) than last blog. I hope you enjoy these insights into the ‘golden era’ of domestic British cycling and time trialling.

Thanks to Peter Whitfield for including this CD of copyright free images in his excellent cycling books – ’12 Champions’ and ‘History of Time trialling’

Beryl Burton start with crowds

Beryl Burton at the start with large crowd.



A familiar scene for early morning Sunday time trials. Time keeper and pusher-off.


A road with no markings, must have been relatively quiet.


A classic shot from the Catford CC hill climb – the oldest cycle race in the world.


At the start of the national 100.


Looks like this rider got a good push from the pusher off. Many people checking watches and looking on.

Time Trial Legends


The 1960s was the peak of the BAR competition with the best timetriallist competing with the best road men.


Alf Engers – the King of the short distance time trial

Alf Engers set a new competition record of 49.24 for 25 mile TT in 1978, before the advent of tri bars and disc wheels. It was the first sub 50 25 mile TT. He had a habit of annoying the establishment, but he was a class act on the bike. Engers was national 25 mile TT champion in 1969 and 1972-1976.


Beryl Burton

The achievements of Beryl Burton are so impressive it is hard to know where to start. 25 times consecutive BBAR holder. Once held both men and women’s 12 hour time trial record with 276 miles.


Ian Cammish

Ian Cammish was a supreme 50 and 100 mile time triallist. Dominating the BBAR in the 1980s. Ian Cammish won national 100 mile title 1980 – 83 and 1985-89.


Glen Longland one of the few who could compete with Ian Cammish. National 50 and national 100 champion.


arthur-metcalfe during 1966 12 hour BBAR


martyn-roach won BBAR in 1968, Also national 50 and national 100 mile Champion



John Woodburn won the national 25 mile championship in 1961. He went on to be the first Veteran to win the BBAR in 1978. He also set a new Land’s End to John ‘O Groats record



Sean Yates began his cycling career doing domestic time trials, winning the National 25 mile TT in 1980. He went onto be a Tour de France star, becoming first British rider to win a time trial in the Tour de France and wearing the yellow jersey.



Despite being a top roadman, Phil Griffiths won the BBAR 5 times in the 1970s.

Interesting shots


Who needs a fancy HQ. A ‘made do and mend’ changing room.


The loneliness of a long distance time triallist.


A companion for the ride.


It’s hungry work this time trialling.


The ‘dead’ U-turn in the middle of the road. Presumably before the days of traffic counts.upturned-bars

No points for style, but plenty for effort.


Ian Dow (national 24 hour competition record holder), doing a turn.


Oops! A turn which went wrong.


Jon Baylis passing the chaps having a nice cup of tea. The sedate world of time trialling.


Wake me up when it’s time to race.


The strength of a lion.marshall

Marshalls showing the way to go. Before ‘health and safety’ dished out the high vis vests.


Have they escaped from a Monty Python Sketch?


Notice the excellent socks and the massage by the side of the road. Sometimes things don’t  always change for the better.


Shillingford Bridge. This may well have been during the famous Bath Road 100 mile TT.


More cyclists pass Shillingford Bridge.


Time stops for no man, esepcially the cyclists who is riding ‘contra la monde’


A symmetry of triangles.

24 Hour Time trials


John Woodburn riding at night.


The famous Norman Maggs smoking a pipe as he begins the Mersey 24 hour time trial.


Night time in the 24 hour. Nice jumper, more style than the marginal gains of Team Sky’s see-through skinsuit. (Rider is Eric Mathews.)


Arthur Metcalfe. BBAR Champion 1966


Taking a bottle at night.

The Hill Climbers


Granville Sydney (Huddersfield Star Wheelers) 6 times national hill climb champion. Note he never shaved his legs.


The hill climb agony.


The long drag.horseshoe-pass

The horseshoe pass in Wales


Come on, Mister!


Nick ‘o Pendle


Ralph Wilson


How to finish a hill climb.



More shots


A tricycle on the way to Barrow.


Who says time trialling isn’t a spectator sport?


Morning papers?


Tom Simpson on the right at Crystal Palace.


London to Holyhead was an important one day race.



All over black was once the regulations for time

Early marginal gains.


dig in.drink-chris-munford

Looks like a bell on his bike.peter-smith-finish-pangbourne-lane

Finish in Pangbourne Lane, a popular road for the flatish A4 courses.


Taking a drink on the move.


Early season snow.


Through the trees.finish-tk

Old fashioned time keeping.


Daryl Webster on Horseshoe pass.


The celebrated author Les Wilmot


Winter gritrolling-lanes

A rolling coursetricycle-puddle

Tricycle through water.


Early morning

Photographs by Bernard Thompson. Thompson was born in Southfields, West London in 1924 he was a freelance photographer, particularly interested in time trials.


You can buy a CD (there are over 280 pictures) from:

Peter Whitfield
Wychwood Publishing
Tachbrook House
Oxfordshire OX7 3PS

for £10.

If you like this, post, you will like Peter Whitfields books

  • The History of Time trialling – Time, Speed and Truth
  • 12 Champions – featuring B.Burton, I.Cammish, R.Booty, M.Roach

Note on CD: In commemoration of Bernard Thompson’s lifetime’s work as a cycling photographer, these images are presented copyright free for the use of any individuals or institutions furthering the interests of cycling.


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17 Responses to Classic cycling photos

  1. Thomas Guest January 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Great photos. Thanks!

  2. georgie January 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Lovely pics – how great everything was back then before millions of cars.
    Scrolled through wondering if my dad might be on any shots, alas not. But have these two great pics of him

    • tejvan January 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      nice, what was your dad’s name?

      • georgie January 9, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

        John Ormrod – he would have been in Nelson Star Cycling Club in Pendle in the 50s & 60s. Alas by the time I was here, his cycling days were long behind him & I didnt start cycling as an adult until after he passed away.
        My uncle says he has unearthed some of his time trial certificates, so I need to pick them up :-) Wish we had more photos like these kicking about.

  3. JEAN RAMSDALE January 13, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    Cliff Smith – winner of 18 ’24’ hour time trials and past holder of the Edinburgh to London place to place record. What a lovely surprise to see my dad in your classic photos of Bernard Thompson. I do hope that he is still remembered by some of your readers – he would have been 93 next month. Such a tragic shame that he died aged 71 after an accident whilst out training. He was still very fit and rode his bicycle daily and still rode in time trials.

    • Dave Binks June 11, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Cliff is the guy riding the hub geared bike in the “Old fashioned timekeeping” photo.
      This would probably have been taken on the finishing circuit of the North Road 24.

      • m Wilcox October 4, 2015 at 5:52 am #

        Hi Cliff Smith was my Grandad and I am very interested in any information or photos anyone may have of his cycling days .

  4. John Crump May 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Les Wilmott is still around but not riding anymore due to health reasons. I was a good mate of his in the late 40s early 50s. Did some pretty good time myself also. Still a member of the Midland C&AC

  5. Dave Binks June 11, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    The rider in the photo immediately above the comic triplet shot is Eric Tremaine of the Leicestershire Road Club.
    Eric was a terrific long distance rider, particularly on a trike. He broke the 24hrs trike record, for which he was awarded the Bidlake Plaque for that year. He later went on to break the Land’s End to John o’Groats trike record.
    Eric now lives in Canada.

    The tandem shot is myself Dave Binks, and my ex, Barbara, both members of the Leicestershire Road Club, in a tandem 30 near Cambridge in the late 1970s.

    The triangles camping shot is of Ethel Thompson, Bernard’s wife.

  6. Jack Hunt June 14, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    I always convince myself I’ll never be a good trials rider because of my broad shoulders and chest but looking at Sean Yates, he was as aerodynamic as a breeze block! Just pure power!

  7. Jack Hunt June 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

    Looking at these photos leads me to recall a quote by Enzo Ferrari

    “Aerodynamics are for car manufacturers who can’t build engines”

  8. les Street December 18, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Fantastic action photos of some real class riders.
    The bikes, many so streamlined and you can almost hear the tubs.
    Compared with some silly compact and triple chain wheels, early STI shifters and over sized head tube carbon frames and mini tool kits, what happened! All down to marketing?

    Interestingly the 62 ? Catford Hill Climb team event was won by Featherstone Road Club with Baz Lycett, now in Canada – Len Crayson and the Late Mike O’rourke who moved south in the early 80’s. Not bad day for a small mining village team coming 200 miles from Yorkshire to Catford.

  9. Martin Badham June 8, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Good afternoon, I have just heard of the passing of Norman Maggs. You have a photo of him starting the Mersey 24 under full steam. Please could I have permission to copy for the Tricycle association website announcement. Sadly I do not yet have more details than that he had recently been admitted to Hindley Hospice after a long illness.
    Thanking you in anticipation,
    Martin Badham

  10. David Raynes September 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    Great photos, thanks for putting them up.

    If you are inclined to name him, the 24 Hour rider with the jumper is Eric Mathews.

    I was part of his feeding team under Harold (H) Nelson. BEM

    Wonderful battles with Nim Carline at 12 and 24 hour.

    From memory Nim always started fast, Eric rode like a metronome, (with or without the jumper!).

  11. Dave Twitchett October 15, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    Wonderful images-Much appreciated even though I could never afford to race myself. Looked for one of my old clubmate George Bettis but without success. Thompson was a very fine photographer Sincerely Dave Twitchett

  12. Kit Harvey November 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Seeking Chris Munford..My Father John Harvey, British Champion in ’62 pal with Alf Engers, John Woodburn etall is seeking a way of contacting Chris, they were at school together, rode together in the same Team and Club.Please contact me at thanks…


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