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« The Newspaper Boy | Main | The Evolution of Frame Design, Part III: Clinging to Traditions »
Friday
Oct162009

The Higginson Twins: Update

On May 1st this year, I wrote an article titled “The Higginson Twins: A Pedaling Phenomenon.”

I wrote about an event held on March 23rd, 1952; the Calleva 25 mile time trial, an event restricted to a single gear of 72 inches. (48 x 18)

This event would go down in history when the first three riders would complete the distance in less than one hour.

The first time the magic one hour had been broken for 25 miles on a 72 inch gear.

Stan Higginson was the winner with a time of 59min. 20sec. Stan’s twin brother Bernard Higginson was second in 59min. 48sec. Dave Keeler took third place with a time of 59min. 58sec. Les Inman was fourth in 1hr. 0min. 52sec.

As a result of my writing this piece, Stan Higginson contacted me. A recent picture (Above right.) shows a still fit looking Stan, now 78 years young. His brother Bernard is also well; they live some fifteen miles apart, in Worcestershire, England.

Stan also sent some pictures from that era, including one taken right after the Calleva 25 at the moment history had been made. The picture is below.

From left to right is Les Inman (4th.) Stan Higginson (1st.) Bernard Higginson (2nd.) Dave Keeler (3rd.) Extreme right is Ken Sparks who was the 3rd member of the winning Halesowen C&AC team. Stan and Bernard were the 1st and 2nd Halesowen club members. Sparks time was 1hr. 3min. 10sec. and gave the Halesowen Team a total winning time of 3-2-18

Stan also gave me some interesting tid bits of information. He and Bernard normally raced on a single fixed gear of 84.4 inches. (50 x 16) He said it suited their slight build of 5’ 9 1/2” (176.5cm.) weighing 129 lb. (58.5kg.) and their very low profile positions.

Throughout the winter they trained on 62 inch gear. (46 x 20) This no doubt gave the twins their fast pedaling abilities.

Between 1952 and 1955 they won seven British National 25 Mile Championship Medals. 3 firsts, 2 seconds, and a third. Stan Higginson broke competition record 3 times. Their team. Halesowen C&AC won 3 National Championships, and broke competition record 4 times.

Stan’s fastest 25 was 56min. 21sec. and Bernard’s fastest time was 57min. 05sec.

The caption under this 1953 picture (Above) reads: The fastest of the brilliant cycling twins now serving in the Royal Air Force, S. F. Higginson has won the 25 miles championship of the Road Time Trials Council for the past two years, and is the current record holder with a time of 56 min. 29 sec. In July this year (1953) he became the first rider to beat 57 minutes at the distance.

Picture above: Stan Higginson turning in the North Lancashire 25 (1955)

Picture above: Stan riding a pursuit race at Herne Hill, London Track, Good Friday Meeting 1952

An interesting foot note. The person who put Stan in touch with me was Lewin Chalkley, who is the owner of Stan’s old Holdsworth frame. The frame below, recently restored, looks very much like the one in the picture above

 

Reader Comments (11)

Just found your blog and read for about an hour. Thoroughly enjoyed my short visit, and look forward to learning more about you and your ideas. Thank you for constructing this blog, and sharing. I like your writing style.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary Ares

Thanks Dave for the info on the Higginson twins, I raced many times against them in 1950-51 Then I went in the RAF for my two years, I could never compete with them EVEN if I shaved my legs and put Brylcream on my hair. My fastest time in 1951 was a 58+ min 25TT in a club event. I think in a 72"event best I ever did was a 1-5+ The twins where the best, In 1950 and 51 My club the Midland C&AC John Chance,Myself John Crump and the late John Bradbury DID beat the Halesowen club a few times and we did win the team in NCU centre champ 25 each year AGAINST HalesowenCC. I also used pretty much the same gears in those days, BUT I could never twiddle a 72" in a 25 at those speeds, AMAZING! John Crump NOW Parker, Co USA

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Interesting. Could you fudge tire size in these events to change the gearing slightly? Or was that locked in as well?

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Ong

Jeff,
To check gear a measured distance was marked on the road. Crank had to do at least one complete revolution when bike was wheeled between these two marks.
Dave

October 16, 2009 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Dave,

I noticed fender lugs on both thefront and rear dropouts of the track frame. I can understand on the fork but on a track rear dropout? Were these standard issue dropouts used on any fixed gear bike?

Tnx,
Jim

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Jim,
Yes that was pretty much the standard set up. People often had just one bike that they would ride to work on each day with fenders, then the fenders would come off at the weekends for a time-trial or even a track race.
Dave

October 17, 2009 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Speaking formyself and most of MY team mates, we could only afford ONE bike So MY bike had to do the lot, Track TTs grass racing cyclosross. and club rides for training,So you rode with mudguards(WONDER WHY) bag lights the whole kit, Attached the sprints with Cyclo levers (that I still have) and off to the races! arrived and strip down the machine and away you went After the race on went to lot a quick cuppa and back home, OR as I usually did off with the lads for a few more miles,

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

I was delighted to find this article about Stan and his brother , Bernard. What achievements they made! Incredible. I had the great fortune to be interviewed for a job by Stan late in 1989. He saw enough potential and faith in me to give me a chance. The job was life changing for me and I am proud to tell people about my former boss. A great man, gentleman and fine leader. I had listed "family cycling" under my hobbies and often wonder if this at least caught Stan's initial attention ! Thanks Stan ! I know that many of my former colleagues from Birmingham Office days, feel the same.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterduncan vickers

I was a member of Norion Roads Club for a few years in the early 50's, before and after National Service. I wasn't an under the hour man, but enjoyed time trialling immensely.
Racing was in an 86 gear training on a 64, all winter.
I've just seen Bradley Wiggin's Olympic time trial Gold Medal on TV, and it took me right back to those great days when we used the same bike for time trials, track, touring and club runs!
Like the Higginson twins, I commuted from Barnet to Hatfield daily, on my training gear. I did a bit and bit with a guy from Barnet roads Club, as he also worked at DeHavilland Aircraft Co., at Hatfield.
Back to Wiggy, what a great ride! 27 miles on the road in 50 mins 39 secs!
Without taking antthing from him for his wonderful achievement, I wonder how he would compare on the equipment and casual training that we had?
Go GB cyclists in the wonderful 2012 Olympics! Well done every one of them!.
ANY EX NORION ROAD CLUB Members out there? Quite a few still out there, I guess!

John Phipps

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Phipps

I was a member of the North Road Cycling club in the fifties and specialised in 25,30.and 50 miles and often bumped into the Higginsons but don't recall being in the same race as them . They were the days , proper bikes and none of this present day lark of starting mid day when traffic is heavy enabling riders to take advantage of the wind from vehicles passing in the same direction . We used to start at around 6.30AM and the whole thing was over by eight . I owned two bikes purchased from George and Peggy Brooks; an Ephgrave and a Claude Butler .both of which I rode to work .

Dress code was pretty standard and subdued . Present day riders wear comic opera attire and go fast helmets , preferable I suppose to de riguer black tights of yester year . I still have my stopwatch and padded leather crash hat . My frames I sold when I married . I still remember the faintly sick feeling when opening the envelope containing the Sundays start sheet , It is a few years now since I dreamed of the start of say a "25" and the 5,4,3,2,1 and " Good luck as you were given a good shove off ! .

A Southgate CC starter broke new and unexpected ground when instead of the customary shove he simply let go thus allowing the unsuspecting rider to fall off .

I recall taking part in a team pursuit at Herne Hill where, we were matched against a London club who , being on home ground thought a good ploy to keep us waiting trackside . After much tactical delay they finally took up their positions , the starters gun went and the leading rider of the opposing team lunged forward holding his handle bars which were no longer attached to the frame . He had concentrated so much on delay that he forgot to tighten the headlock !!

Halcyon days ! .

April 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark Withers

First I would like to thank you for this blog - I rode with the Wombwell Wheelers ( near Barnsley ) from 1949 to 1955. The Higginson twins were legends and I have often wondered where they are now, It was also good to see the photos - I still treasure the memories of those days, cycling up to 80 miles to ride a 25 mile event with a 6am start - then cycle home, I kept my Claude Butler Avant Courier bike for many years, I eventually gave it to one of my nephews and it was ``gone`` in less than a month - different times and different values I guess.

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry Ellis

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