Where it all started...
The East Sussex Cycling Association was formed on 10th November 1946 at the Ash Tree Inn, Ashburnham. Born out of frustration at the lack of post war racing opportunities for clubs in the area, it was the inspiration of two men, Roy Humphrey of the now disbanded Uckfield and District CC and Bill Collins of Eastbourne Rovers CC. With a resurgent enthusiasm for cycling, following the Second World War, they were determined to improve the lot of the East Sussex racing cyclist.
At that inaugural meeting they were joined by representatives from four other clubs; Bexhill Wheelers, Hastings & St Leonards C & AC, Rye & District Wheelers and the Royal Tunbridge Wells Albion CC. Adopting the Ash Tree as its badge, the East Sussex Cycling Association took root, branched out and grew into what it is today.
Notable events include world champion Graeme Obree riding the ESCA 25 in June 1996, their 50th Anniversary year, to record a time of 48 minutes 55 seconds on the G25/89 – a time unbeaten to this day! Again, in June 2011, their 65th Anniversary year, ESCA were very proud to host the National 24 hour championship at which Andy Wilkinson set a new national 24 hour record of 541.17 miles on the rolling roads of Sussex; a national record that stands today.
Much has been written about the history of the Association with Michael Rabbetts’ 50 years of ESCA, published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary in 1996, widely regarded as the authoritative record of the times and tribulations of the East Sussex cyclist so long ago. But as times change and the years roll on, it is testament to the spirit of those confined to fond memory that the ethos of the East Sussex Cycling Association remains the same today as it always was – to provide racing in the east of the county with competition and camaraderie for its members.
The first ESCA handbook was produced by Roy Humphrey in 1949, in which he wrote:
“So far, the Association has served not only to provide adequate racing facilities but has brought together all members of clubs in East Sussex in such a way that individual members have got to know each other in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere, which can only bring out the best that can be found in the grand cycling game of ours.”
– and long may it continue!