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Cycling at Brunel

With the Tour de France starting on Saturday, we thought we would take the opportunity to show some of the cycling photos we have in the University Archives.

The Saffron Walden College Archive contains our oldest photo of students cycling.

SWC Cycling 1905 cropped


This photo from 1905 shows six students with bicycles, looking like they are about to set off for a ride with bicycles designed for long skirts.

Cycling was important to early women’s rights activists and their quest for independence. Susan B Anthony (an American women’s rights activists who played a key role in women’s suffrage), in 1896, said, ‘I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.’


The oldest mention of cycling in our archives goes to Borough Road College and its student magazine, The B’s Hum. In Feb 1897, a student known only as E.O.T. published a poem called ‘The Three Cyclists’. The poem revels in the joy of cycling and men’s desire to cycle above all other considerations.

The Three Cyclists



Shoreditch Technical College has many references to a cycling club in its college magazine. The earliest found in our archives is in the Christmas 1927 issue. Although it refers to earlier mentions of the Cycling Club.

The Magazine East 1928 p 14 cropped


The Easter 1928 magazine mentions an active Cycling Club with moonlight runs and camping weekends, see above. The archives also show that the Cycling and Rambling club often went on adventures together.

My absolute favourite find in the archives is an article in a 1972 Soma Heo ( Shoreditch College student newsletter). In this newsletter there is an article by someone only known as D.S.S., where he describes an experience that is well known by anyone who has ridden a bicycle on the road.

Soma Heo 2 March 1972 clip of cycle article cropped

Items like these in the archives, show that many experiences last through time. The sketch below accompanied the article and contributed to the humorous nature of the piece.

Soma Heo 2 March 1972 cycle drawing


Cycling continues to be a popular student past time, especially with the launch of the Santander Cycles in March.

 Santander_Bikes_Brunel-04_10136 cropped


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For more information about the archives go to