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.


39 thoughts on “Classic cycling photos”

      • 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.

        • that iz soo true georgie though you weren’t around at that time 50s 60s i was a 14 year old novice from manchester recently introduced to time trialling !!! bye the time i gave it away 8 years later the change that came about on our roads waz frightening i just didn’t wan’t to risk my life with crazy motorists any more !!! i am now 77 yrs old and still ride my bike on the local gold coast velodrome but those days i can honestly say were the happiest days of my life i loved club life club events i raced all over the british isles i wouldn’t have changed it for quids it was unfortunate you weren’t around then to appreciate the peace & quiet and safety on the roads how things have changed happy trails to you & your’e club mates yours j d p australia

  1. 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.

    • 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.

    • Dear Jean,
      I saw your comments about your father, Cliff Smith, and Mr Wilcox’s request for information about his grandfather, by sheer chance whilst attempting to research information about Cliff for a short article I am trying to write about your father for the Veteran Cyclists Club magazine , The Boneshaker. If there is some way I could get in touch with you, or you with me I’m sure I could present some new info about him other than that I have gleaned from the Internet.
      Harry Colledge Veteran Cycling Club, Cleveleys Road Club

      • Dear Harry,

        First of all my sincere apologies for not replying to you soon but I have only just read your comments. Yes, I would love to help you with your research (that is if its not too late by now) and would be more than willing for you to contact me.

        I was approached a while ago by a gentleman who was making a documentary for TV to be shown on BBC4 about the history of Raleigh, and of course anyone who had connections either by working at Raleigh or riding a Raleigh bicycle or had memories connected to Raleigh – I think it is due to be shown sometime in the New Year so keep a look out!

        Have you been on the website ‘I worked at’ – I had some input for that, and they used a lot of photos of Cliff and other racing cyclists that I have.

        Anyway, look forward to hearing from you and once again apologies for the delay.

        Best wishes,

        Jean Ramsdale

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!).

    • lovely to see my Dad, Eric Matthews, included on here. I love flicking through old photos of his racing days with newspaper articles including Carline, Cromack and Beryl Burton

  9. 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

    • Hi Dave

      I am sorry to tell you that George Betti’s passed away on the 5th December 2016. He was a great friend of mine.
      He was diagnosed with cancer 4 months ago

      He moved to Ashbourne in Derbyshire in 2000.
      Your name is familiar to me may be YHa days

      Regards Keith Smith

  10. 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…

  11. Great photos, the third one in the series is the start of the East Surrey Hardriders junior 15, I did it once in ’67 aged 15 I remember it was a very cold morning, indeed the photo above may have been taken on the day. My last rides were in 99 and was often thrashed by Alf Engers.

  12. Some identifications: Dead U-turn Frank Southall; Taking a bottle at night Arch Harding; Morning Papers Streatley on Thames (Bath Road course); Early marginal gains Dave Lloyd; Taking a drink on the move Dick Poole

  13. Cliff Smith one of the Greatest Cyclist ever would be a 100 years old today if he was here . Just want to wish him a Happy Birthday from your Grandson Mark Wilcox always in my thoughts your Famous Raleigh Record Ace lives with me on display.

    • Hi Mark
      Well done for honoring your grandad and his achievements, and preserving his RRA.
      I did not know Cliff but since acquiring one of his RRAs a couple of years ago I have researched his cycling career (as much as is available on the internet anyway) and I think I have found a photo of him on the actual bike.
      If you would like details of the bike that I have (dark green RRA with all chrome front forks) please email me at

      Best regards
      Tony Maile
      V-CC membership no 5640.

  14. Fabulous event photos. Some can’t be that old ( can they?) as I recall the riders and not from photos but “being there.”

  15. Have loved seeing these old photos .My Dad William Bowden rode time trials and I have all his diary’s and event programmes along with newspaper articles.My Dad was still cycling until he became ill in 2012 and now I am riding his bike with my best tutor Eric Watts and loving it .Sadly Bill died in 2013 and never new l would go on to ride and understand his passion for cycling . I have many vintage tops of his to wear too .I have a few time trial photos of him but seeing this photography has taken me into his past.


  16. Does any one have details of the photo captioned “Oops! A turn which went wrong” approx 25th from the top.
    I may recognise the rider but can’t be sure.

  17. I believe the grimacing young man captioned “No points for style etc.” might be my Former Abbotsford Park RC club-mate, Jim Timmons. He was a very good time trials rider who sadly, was lured away to join the sponsored, but short-lived CC Omega. I believe Jim went on to win the famous Yorkshire event, the Andy Wilson ’50.’ Jim’s father, Eddie, also of the Abbotsford Park, was part of the winning VTTA club team in the 1980 24 Hour Championship promoted by the Mersey Roads Club. My late father-in-law, Jack Brownhill led the Abbotsford team as the individual VTTA champion that year. He was mentioned in “The Times” newspaper for riding a 29 minute ’10’ when he was 92. Sadly, he passed away aged 95 whilst cherishing hopes of riding a 100 when he reached his century.

    • Sorry to disappoint Ken, this isn’t me – Jim Timmons – but some other poor sod. Thanks so muchfor remembering me and my Dad though. Eddie – my dad is still doing well, he’s 87 now and fit as a fiddle. I live in, Nicaragua with my wife of 20+ years and have done for the last 8 years. Good to hear from you, I still ride everyday. Cheers James

    • Hello Ken. I am Eddie Timmons, father of James. Sadly James died on 3rd of January 2024 from an embolism to his heart.
      I do not ride any more due to health probems but remember those cycling days with much fondness. All the best Eddie.

  18. hello all, my Dad is Eric Moody who competed in many races between 1960 & 1965 , did any of you know him or have any photos of him ? i believe he was pretty good by the number of medals he has, he is still alive, living in France and now aged 80 and living with the Parkinsons illness, if anyone knew of him it would be nice to hear from you.

    • Ingrid,
      I’ve just stumbled across yr msg. My name is Chris Munford which I,m sure yr Dad will remember. We rode together for a number of years ; in fact we rode together in the World Team Time Trial championships in 1963 in Belgium and we were both in the British Best Allrounder winning team of 1964. I’m sorry to hear of yr Dad’s illness, I hope it’s not to severe. I’m now 82 yrs of age, still working and seriously considering retiring. If I can be of any further help please let me know. Please give Eric my best regards

      • Hi Chris, thanks for the reply and sorry its taken so long to get back to you, I recall him having mention your name before, we are still in touch with Phil & Jackie Griffith.
        Dad was pretty poorly over xmas with a lung infection, hes better now but is now in a french nursing home due to the progression of the parkingson illness but he still has all his marbles, if you would like to visit and come and see dad that would be great and we have plenty of room for you to stay, we are in Brittany
        Kind Regards


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