The Bicycling Buglers

We found this photograph of a group of cyclists with their penny farthings. We can’t place the building behind them, does anyone recognise it?

The 1870s and 1880s were the great years of the cycling club with their uniforms and bugles; a national organisation, the Bicycling Club, was formed in 1878 and by 1886 the Cyclists Touring Club had over 22,000 members. These clubs were led by a ‘captain’ and one of the cyclists carried a bugle with which the captains instructions could be signalled in military fashion to all members of the group.

6 thoughts on “The Bicycling Buglers

    • The Stately Home forming the background to the group of young men perched precariously and uncomfortably upon their Penny Farthing Bycicles is Woodside Hall, which later became Cleveland School. It was located at the Eastern end of the Avenue, Eaglescliffe, and was my school from 1947 until 1952. This lovely old building was demolished around 1970 to make way for the Teesside High School. To my mind an act of vandalism, although some traces of the old building remain in the Clocktower and the none functioning Fountain with some of the entry steps upon which we would take our lunch on sunny days so long ago.


  1. Sorry to disagree Dave, but this can’t have been on the corner of Hartburn Lane/Yarm Road. The sloping ground, the large open area, the four story’s and the lack of space for the railway preclude it. Sadly I have no idea where it is though. What fascinates me it the mechanics behind this photo. Imagine, the chap with the glass slide camera (sorry can’t remember it’s correct name) would have had to set the scene, check that all were in view (upside down image), insert photographic glass plate, remove shutter plate and start counting-minimum 5 secs if the weather was bright. Meanwhile the cyclists , all with legs off the ground would have to sit perfectly still. I suspect that the reason for the slight curve of the ‘line’ and all holding hand was the only way that they could avoid falling uncerermoniously over into in a big heap!


  2. Howard is right, this photo was posted on Picture Stockton in April 2007. It was said to be a photo of Stockton Cycling Club taken in 1882. James Stark identified the building as Woodside Hall, Eaglescliffe, since demolished.

    This is a group of cyclists from the Stockton Amateur Bicycle Club, which was the forerunner of the Stockton Cycling Club, until the new name was adopted in 1890. Woodside Hall at that time was the home of Richard Henry Appleton (who built the Clevo Flour Mill, Thornaby). In 1891 Appleton was mayor of Stockton-on-Tees, so I wonder if the club had ridden out to Woodside Hall to greet him, as Appleton was a member of the Club. In 1885-86 Appleton served as President of the Club.

    Examination of the photo shows some interesting details.
    The cyclist on the extreme left is holding something to his lips. He was probably the club bugler who helped to coordinate the rides, one blast from his bugle and everybody mounted their cycle, two blasts and they dismounted. The riders appear to be in their club uniform, brown with a gold monogram badge.
    The rider on the extreme right appears to be wearing three such badges, he may have been the club Captain who always led the ride.
    The above information is taken from the website ‘History of Cycling in Stockton on Tees’ by Bob Hutchinson and Susan McLaurin.


  3. Has this picture been up before? I remember discussion of the location. I don’t remember the answer – didn’t suppose that I needed to! A purist would say ‘penny farthings’ = Ordinary bicycles.


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