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100 years of Kingston Wheelers

This year the club celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Kingston Wheelers was formed in 1924 when six cyclists, including founding member Bill Orpin, met in a cafe on the Portsmouth Road and the club was born. Fast forward to the present day and we are 500+ members strong, with a diverse range of rides, events and activities that underpin club life. 

Our Club President Derrek (Del) Griffiths says;

As President I take my role as an ambassador for the club seriously. I have been proud to represent the club in community groups such as the Safer Parks Police Panel in Richmond Park and Richmond Park Cyclists, which is supported by Kingston Wheelers. Each year I lay a wreath at the Peaslake remembrance ceremony on behalf of the club which is always a moving occasion. As an active committee member, I know how leadership and our brilliant volunteers have enabled the club to go from strength to strength and I thoroughly enjoy meeting our new members at the Presidents Ride each year. To be president in the club’s Centenary year is an absolute honour.

In our centenary year we are celebrating our club heritage, and what it means to be a Wheeler, through a special programme of activities that engage our membership and the local community.

Centenary Celebration

To kick off the Centenary year, the club is hosting a party in March at Malden Wanderers Cricket Club for an evening of commemoration, celebration, dining and dancing.

The evening will be hosted by Denny Gray (The Cycling Podcast) and we’ll be joined by special guest Joanna Rowsell MBE for a career conversation and Q&A. There will be a cycling quiz for a chance for members to flex their cycling knowledge and we’ll round out the evening with live music from The Landline who will be playing classics from the 90’s. It’s set to be an unforgettable evening.

Tickets have now sold out but please speak to Jo Reynolds if you’d like to be added to the waiting list. 

Refreshed club history

The Centenary provides an opportunity to celebrate our rich history over the last 100 years. Our club historian Gafyn MacMillan has been tirelessly researching the Wheelers by delving into old newspaper articles, studying old club publications, making contact with the families of our original founder and former presidents, as well as conducting multiple interviews with members past and present to build a comprehensive portrait of club life.  Through this he is creating an archive for the club, so that other members and future generations can dive in.

Gafyn says;

Kingston Wheelers CC has a fascinating history, full of incredible feats and of stories to make you laugh, and to make you cry. Tales embedded in community, in camaraderie, in family. Our club has a real heritage of individuals devoting so much of their lives in forming, leading and growing the club with real passion. Our history is what has brought us to this point, our centenary.

We’ll be creating an online experience with a much more detailed account of our club’s history, an updated history of the club jersey design, and tribute articles on the people most influential in running and shaping the club during its first 80 years. All pulling together memories that give an insight into the culture and makeup of the club through each of its decades.

There are also plans to create a special edition magazine which brings the history to life in written form, as well as a temporary exhibition in a Kingston venue where there will be artefacts such as trophies and medals on display.

Centenary kit with Le Col

We have launched a special edition jersey with Le Col, which pays homage to our early club jersey designs particularly the 1960 and 1985 editions. It was designed in-house by Neil Grunshaw who worked with our club historian Gafyn MacMillan. 

We asked Neil about the process; “I took details from some of those jerseys from the 60s, 70s and 80s using photos from the club archive, expertly maintained by Gafyn. I smashed some of these together and created an ‘imagined’ club kit from decades past – so the centenary kit is an old school club kit that never really existed. I think it looks authentic enough for one to imagine that it did exist whilst rolling through sun-dappled lanes on a vintage Colnago.”

The kit features the Coronation Stone on a roundel design, an icon which has been associated with the club jersey design over the years. The Coronation Stone is a sarsen stone block, which is believed to have been the site of the coronation of seven Anglo-Saxon kings and now on display by the Guildhall in Kingston.

Alongside the jersey we have produced a pair of black bib shorts with the iconic KWCC logo. Look out for our members showing off the ‘special edition’ design on the roads of Surrey in the coming months.

Centenary Pale Ale with The Park Brewery

The Park Brewery have been big supporters of the club over the last 10 years, helping us with prizes for events and the now-traditional keg of beer at the end of our audax rides. Therefore it felt like a no-brainer to partner up to create a special edition beer for the Centenary.

The recipe will be based on one of The Park Brewery’s existing lines with a special Wheelers twist. Co-founder Frankie says;

Craft beer and cycling are perfect partners, throw into the mix the Kingston connection and everyone’s a winner! We’re really grateful for the support we’ve had from the Wheelers over the years and are delighted to bring you this special Centenary-inspired Pale Ale.

There will be a competition for members to come up with the name of the beer as well as a brewing and canning day at the brewery. We’ll be launching the beer early summer with a taproom party and it may even be available on tap at a couple of local pubs. Cheers to that!

Centenary Audax: The Hundred of Kingston

The Hundred of Kingston or Kingston Hundred was an ancient hundred in the county of Surrey. It is also the name of a 100 mile randonnée to commemorate 100 years of the club.

As well as a celebration of the club this is a classic route down towards the coast taking in many of the most iconic roads and climbs in the South of England. It is also an ideal introduction to audax rides as although at 100 miles it is shorter than the usual 200km (120 miles), it is run in exactly the same manner with a specified route and controls at set distances

Starting from the Alpkit Store (who are providing beverages) in Kingston’s Anglo Saxon centre you will enjoy some of the best roads where you will gather steam toward the South Downs, stopping at the first control which is a catered brunch stop at the Bluebell Railway (entry price includes a breakfast bap and a drink plus a platform ticket). 

You will then take in the legendary Ditchling Beacon and Devils Dyke climbs in the South Downs before a short break at the Wildflour Cafe at Saddlescombe Farm NT. 

Once refreshed there is a straight run back up to the North Downs with controls at Shere and Ripley using some of the current and historic Kingston Wheelers club run routes. Arrivée at the Park Brewery tap room where you will be provided with refreshment.

For more information about Audax and to enter the event click here.

Kingston Junior Cycle Club

Formed in 2012, Kingston Junior Cycle Club provides an amazing opportunity for young people to develop their passion for cycling and provides pathways into racing and club cycling. Many of our members are actively involved with the running of the club and children of Wheelers enjoy the weekly training sessions at the Hawker Centre.

In our Centenary year we are looking to strengthen the bond between the two clubs and give support to KJCC, so that they continue to provide qualified coaching and equipment for future cyclists in the Kingston area.

Official Merch

To enable you to signal to friends and family your love for all things Wheelers, we will be producing a range of limited edition Centenary merchandise. 

We’ll be producing iron-on patches in two designs including the Coronation Stone and a gravel-inspired motif. These will be gifted to riders taking part in The Hundred of Kingston audax and Centenary Ale gravel ride, as well as via the Club Shop. In need of new bidons? We’ve got you with our Centenary branded custom bottles  available in both 500ml & 750ml sizes. For brews off the bike we’ve made some lovely mugs. And there will be a brand new t-shirt design in a choice of white and blue.

Merch will be available to purchase from the club shop from March. Any surplus from sales will be donated to our charity partners.

Charity & Community Partners

Supporting the local community through charity fundraising is a key pillar of the club, and the Centenary is a great opportunity for the club to raise awareness of important projects in the community. We will be working with the following charities & community projects in the Kingston area and will be aiming to support fundraising initiatives throughout the year. 

Full Cycle Community Bike Project

An important community-run project we are supporting this year, which aims to give people from all backgrounds access to affordable cycling by giving old bikes new life.

Kingston Hospital Charity

We have been working with the charity for hospital staff wellbeing and medical equipment since 2020, and are currently completing a new secure bike storage project together.

Wheels For All

Many of our members volunteer at this cycling project for children and adults with disabilities, which uses adapted cycles to assist in building confidence and independence in cycling. Simon Denton from Wheels for All says;

“The support both in terms of volunteering and fundraising by Kingston Wheelers has been really appreciated. We look forward to building the relationship and are so pleased to be a charity partner.”

And plenty more to come

Stay tuned for news and updates over the course of the year. If you have any ideas for events or wish to get involved, do get in touch with our committee or via the website contact form. A big shout out to all the volunteers from the club who have pulled this together. Here’s to the next 100 years of Kingston Wheelers Cycling Club.