/  Centenary   /  Talking history: Pam Jessop

Talking history: Pam Jessop

In 1924, Bill Orpin formed Kingston Wheelers after taking out an ad in the Surrey Comet. Caroline and Gafyn recently went to visit his daughter Pam Jessop who recounted stories of her father and club life back in the day.

Before Christmas we tried to organise a women’s ride to visit Pam Jessop (daughter of club founder Bill Orpin) in her care home in Cobham. Unfortunately, she moved before our visit could take place. Gafyn (our club historian) was notified she was back temporarily before another move next week, so I joined him for a visit last Friday. We found Pam going through an old cigar box of photos and she happily told us about family and friends featuring in them and her early life growing up in a house on the Portsmouth Rd. As a great-grandmother herself, it was amazing to see photos of her great-grandmother.

She told us Bill worked his whole life for the Waterboard in Surbiton and how he was in the papers for cycling to every county in England. He built her first ever bike and did the mechanics for many of the Wheelers. She talked about riding on the back of his tandem as a child and laughed about putting her feet up while he did all the work. Also being terrified on the tandem when Bill rode between two buses in Trafalgar Square.

When old enough, she moved to Clarence Wheelers (out from under her dad’s gaze) and made the club teas. She married an ex-Marine and moved to High Street in West Molesey, where they had two children. Her main love came later in her second husband Arthur Jessop (no relation to Gil). He had been her first ever boyfriend when she spied him at Kingston Wheelers as a teenager – they reunited and married years later. She said they both helped sort racers’ wheels – 4 a night at 2 bob each.

From the cigar box, she pulled out more dinner-dance photos featuring Bill Orpin – the club shield was huge so I can’t imagine that being welcomed into many homes! Gafyn showed her photos he had on his iPad – she recognised many of the faces. Then it was to the main room for coffee where she introduced us to everyone and seemed well-liked by staff and residents. Pam walks with the support of a frame (with wheels), but she’s still active. She told us about how she loves ballroom dancing there on a Wednesday evening. I suspect she’s looking for husband number 3…

Next week she’s moving to St Augustine’s care home in Addlestone. If you’re passing, I’m sure she’d welcome a visit.