A unique art project is helping to throw the spotlight on ‘Clarion Sunday’ – a historic annual cycling event dating to the late 1890s.
This year, the artist, photographer and devotee of cycling culture, Alan J Ward, will take formal portraits of each rider to celebrate these socialist roots.
A call has been put out to all Clarion cyclists to gather on Sunday 19 September 2021 at Pendle’s Clarion House – the last surviving Clarion House in the UK – as part of continued efforts to resurrect the historic annual event.
The Clarion Cycling Club formed in 1895 as part of the socialist movement, taking its name from Robert Blatchford’s socialist newspaper. In the days before the working class could afford cars, bikes offered freedom and fellowship, and in the 1900s the club thrived with over 8,000 members.
For over 125 years, cyclists from Clarion cycling clubs across the North of England converged on Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge, to listen to speeches by leading Socialists.
Alan Ward said: “This artistic project aims to reflect and celebrate the communal cultural heritage of Clarion Cycling. It promises to be a remarkable day as its hosted at the last remaining Clarion House in the UK.”
The Clarion House in Pendle was built in 1912 for the Nelson Independent Labour Party. Clarion houses provided a place in the countryside for people to enjoy fresh air and comradeship, a tradition that continues to this day in Pendle.
The project has been commissioned by the Pendle Radicals, a research and creative project led by Mid Pennine Arts, that explores the stories of Pendle Hill’s radical thinkers and nonconformists.
Nick Hunt, Creative Director at Mid Pennine Arts, said: “The chief objective of Clarion Cycling Clubs was to promote democracy and socialism, and oppose any form of inequality. It empowered the working classes to literally get on their bike, and be politically active. We want to celebrate the remarkable working-class history in Pendle and its legacy. As a movement, it’s arguably just as needed, and relevant, today.”
Today, the Clarion Cycling Club remains one of the biggest cycling clubs in the country, with around 2,000 members. Hundreds of cyclists are expected to take part from Clarion chapters around the north, including Blackpool, Saddleworth and Barnoldswick, as well as a contingent from London Clarion.
For media enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org 0753 194 8014
To follow the project, go to: #I_Am_Clarion
All images by Alan Ward.