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The London Clarion Cyclist Blog

Clarion Houses, also known as Clarion Clubhouses, originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of the Clarion movement. The Clarion Houses served as social centres and rest stops for cyclists, walkers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, promoting fellowship and socialist ideals. They provided affordable refreshments, literature, and a space for relaxation and camaraderie in rural settings. The ethos was to encourage healthy recreation and political discussion.

 

Clarion Houses typically featured simple, rustic structures located in scenic countryside areas, reflecting the movement's emphasis on nature and outdoor activities. These houses often included tea rooms, reading rooms, and spaces for meetings and social gatherings. Activities at Clarion Houses ranged from cycling and hiking to lectures and discussions on socialism and social justice. There were Clarion House spread across the country including in Handforth, Liverpool, Yorkshire and a London Clarion House in what is now in Nazeing, Essex.   

 

The last surviving Clarion House, located near Pendle in Lancashire. Situated in the picturesque area of Newchurch-in-Pendle, this Clarion House has been in continuous operation since 1912. It remains a symbol of the movement's historical impact and serves as a living museum to the ideals and lifestyle promoted by the Clarion movement.

 


Clarion House near Pendle, Clarion Sunday 2022


The Pendle Clarion House, also known as the Nelson ILP (Independent Labour Party) Clarion House, is nestled in the heart of the Pendle countryside, offering stunning views and a tranquil environment. It continues to function as a rest stop for walkers and cyclists, much like it did over a century ago. Visitors can enjoy a pint mug of tea, browse through historical displays, and soak in the rich heritage of the Clarion movement.

 

The building itself is a modest, single-story structure with a simple interior that reflects its historical roots. Inside, memorabilia and photographs adorn the walls, showcasing the history of the Clarion movement and the pivotal role played by these houses in promoting socialist values and community spirit.

 

Efforts to preserve the last Clarion House are driven by dedicated volunteers and local enthusiasts who recognize its historical and cultural significance. The house is maintained by the Nelson ILP Land Society, which ensures that it remains a vibrant part of the local community and a destination for those interested in the history of socialism in Britain.

 

In recent years, the Pendle Clarion House has gained recognition not only as a historical landmark but also as a cultural treasure, representing a bygone era of social activism and communal living. It continues to attract visitors from across the country and beyond, offering a unique glimpse into the past and an opportunity to connect with the enduring values of the Clarion movement.

 

The Clarion Houses played a crucial role in the social and political landscape of early 20th-century Britain, fostering a sense of community and promoting socialist ideals. The last Clarion House near Pendle stands as a proud reminder of this heritage, preserving the spirit of the movement and providing a historical sanctuary for visitors. Through the efforts of dedicated volunteers and the local community, this historic site continues to inspire and educate, ensuring that the legacy of the Clarion movement lives on.

 

Clarion Sunday the biggest gathering of Clarion Cyclists and Choirs is taking place on 22nd September this year.

 

Here is a photograph of a recently discovered handbook from the Yorkshire Clarion House dating back to c1910.



Yorkshire Clarion Clubhouse booklet part of the London Clarion Cycle Club archive

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Paris, renowned for its romantic ambiance, architectural marvels, and culinary delights, is also witnessing a silent revolution on its streets - the growing love affair with cycling. While the image of Paris may conjure up visions of quaint cafés and bustling boulevards, it's increasingly becoming synonymous with a different mode of transportation: the bicycle.

 

A Pedal-Powered Metropolis

 

In recent years, Paris has embraced cycling with intensity, evident in the proliferation of bike lanes, dedicated cycling infrastructure, and the rise of bike-sharing schemes. This transformation is not merely a passing trend but reflects a fundamental shift in urban mobility preferences, driven by environmental concerns, health consciousness, and a desire for convenience.

 

Environmental Imperatives

 

At the forefront of this cycling renaissance is a heightened awareness of environmental sustainability. As the world grapples with the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change, cities like Paris are prioritizing eco-friendly modes of transport. Cycling, being emission-free and energy-efficient, emerges as a compelling solution to mitigate pollution and congestion while promoting cleaner air and a healthier urban environment.

 


Eiffel Tower Paris France and two Brompton Bikes


Health and Wellness

 

Moreover, the allure of cycling extends beyond environmental considerations to encompass personal health and wellness. In an age where sedentary lifestyles and chronic diseases are rampant, Parisians are increasingly turning to cycling as a means to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. The benefits of cycling are many,  from improving cardiovascular health and boosting mental well-being to enhancing overall fitness levels. With an extensive network of cycling paths crisscrossing the city, Paris offers an inviting landscape for cyclists of all ages and abilities to pedal their way to better health.

 

Urban Accessibility

 

Another driving force behind the surge in cycling is the quest for urban accessibility and convenience. In a city notorious for its traffic congestion and limited parking spaces, cycling emerges as a practical alternative for navigating the bustling streets of Paris. With dedicated bike lanes and bike-sharing programs such as Vélib', which boasts thousands of bikes stationed at numerous locations across the city, commuting by bicycle has never been more accessible or appealing. Whether it's a leisurely ride along the Seine or a brisk pedal to work, cyclists in Paris enjoy the freedom and flexibility to traverse the cityscape at their own pace.

 

Cultural Shift

 

Beyond its practical advantages, the growing popularity of cycling in Paris also reflects a broader cultural shift towards sustainable and active lifestyles. As Parisians embrace the bicycle as a symbol of urban chic and sophistication, cycling culture is flourishing, characterized by cycling clubs, themed events, and a burgeoning community of enthusiasts. From fashion-forward cyclists sporting stylish attire to cafés catering to the two-wheeled crowd, cycling has become an integral part of Parisian identity, transcending mere transportation to embody a lifestyle choice.

 


London Clarion Cyclist at the Eiffel Tower, Paris London wearing London Clarion Jersey


Challenges and Opportunities

 

Despite its many benefits, the widespread adoption of cycling in Paris is not without its challenges. Issues such as road safety, inadequate cycling infrastructure, and the need for greater awareness and education remain key areas of concern. However, these challenges also present opportunities for innovation and collaboration, as city authorities, urban planners, and advocacy groups work together to create a more cyclist-friendly environment. London can learn a lot from the recent growth in Cycling in Paris and we hope that Sadiq Khan will continue to help support the further development of cycling across London in his new third term in office.

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For a relatively short time in the late 1930's and early 1940's the National Clarion Cycling Club London and Southern Counties Unions of Clarion Cycling Clubs published a newsletter called Boots!


It's now possible to read a few copies for free on our recently update Clarion Cycling Clubs archive. Boots! gives readers of today a facinating insight into the life of a cycling club at the time. In it you can read about the sad loss of Tom Oldershaw a London Clarion Cyclist and communist who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War.


Boots!gives a facinating insight to life in the late 1930's.











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