1962 British Cyclo Cross Championships

john atkins at Tingley in 1962

It’s currently the middle of the cyclo-cross season. Or, as i referred to it in the pub during the Ale Rave, ‘the cycling cross’. Cue much merriment from resident master of the rough stuff, Steve. Some time ago i posted a video of a cyclo-cross event from back in the day, when men were men and cyclo-cross was savagely brutal. That particular video went quite mainstream and can be seen in a variety of places.

I’ve recently stumbled across another one, filmed at the 1962 National Championship by members of the Morley CC ‘Film Unit’. It’s quite exciting that the Morley had a film unit. The half hour film features Beryl Burton winning the women’s race. The event takes place on open farmland at Tingley, near Wakefield.

utter filth

The men’s race features a battle between John Atkins and Harry Bond. Atkins was the pre-eminent cyclo-cross racer of the era, winning the title 12 times and the 3 Peaks three times. He came 2nd four times during his seventeen year career.

At Tingley most of the competitors seem to spend most of the race carrying their bikes. Some of the obstacles are almost insurmountable, and as the course cuts up the parcours become more and more treacherous.

a staggeringly high wall with a stranded and confused rider

All of this makes for excellent viewing and the healthy crowd are massed at the stream to watch the riders stumble and fall. Several of the competitors opt to jump across the gaps whilst shouldering their bikes; this is terrifying.

The full film is available to watch at the Yorkshire Film Archive.

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