Paul Clohessey’s Tandem

Working at the Midland Velodrome is a quietly spoken middle-aged man named Paul Clohessey.

The name rang a bell so with the aid of Google and Wikipedia, I looked him up and subsequently sat down with him for a chat last month.  I was especially interested to find out if Paul was the young man in a picture provided by Mavis Jones taking delivery of a rather special racing bike outside the home she shared with her late husband, bike builder Milton Jones.

“Yep. That’s me. 1990 or 1991. I had it built for the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona.”

The bike is - and I’m pleased to say remains - a rather special fillet-brazed road racing tandem built out of Reynolds 531 tubing.  It was originally fitted with a Shimano 600 / Ultegra / DuraAce groupset and triple-spoked carbon fibre wheels and cost $6000.

Racing in the Vision Impaired classification, the tandem was initially piloted by Peter Stotzer in Barcelona and thereafter Eddy Hollands. The bike would go on to participate in two more Paralympic Games (Atlanta and Sydney) and two World Championships (Belgium and The Netherlands). 

“It was an incredible bike. So stiff.” 

At the 1998 Worlds in The Netherlands, Paul felt he and Eddy were good for a podium finish having surprised the opposition with a tandem track gold and broken the world record in the 4k pursuit the day before. From the outset they were marked men though, and the tactics of opposing teams would see them targeted and kept off the podium, finishing 4th overall.

In 1999 the bike was resprayed for the Sydney Olympics in which Paul and Eddy won gold in Sprint and bronze in the time trial. Paul retired from racing after the 2000 Olympics aged 30 years of age.

Paul won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals, broke numerous world records and was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). The frame now lives with Paul’s brother.
More details and photos can be found in the MHJones Register

Frank West

Stanisław Kudliński

Last October my wife and I were cycling in northern Austria. At the town of Mauthausen we turned up the valley and climbed some switchbacks in our lowest gear until the grade eased. Nestled into the broad grassed hill in front of us were the massive walls of the Mauthausen concentration camp, run as a business by the German SS during World War II.  They were a very enterprising bunch when it came to forced labour, starvation, death and worse.  We spent several hours taking in as much as we could cope with.

In the museum my eye was drawn to this old bicycle. It had been indelicately but lovingly repainted in green and gold, so it was irresistible to an Australian cyclist.  Its sweeping handle bar gave it a jaunty look but it had taken a hard hit on the left side. Foot pegs on the front forks suggested it had routinely carried someone on the handlebars. A handsome saddle sat above the simple drive train, which looked like it could go forever. The rear rack had survived somehow.

The bike belonged to Stanisław Kudliński, a polish survivor of the Mauthausen camp.  Probably 120,000 people were murdered in the camp complex (many records were destroyed and estimates range up to 200,000 according to Wikipedia).  But Stanisław survived and when he got out he didn't wait for his return home to be arranged.  He received this bicycle from nuns in nearby Linz and set off with two other survivors on a long journey through war-torn Europe, home to Poland.  He kept the bike throughout his 83 years, a powerful symbol of freedom.

We cleared our heads in the bright sun and climbed back on our own freedom machine. As we rode away from Mauthausen we couldn't feel what Stanisław felt, but we knew it felt good.

Robert Loughman

Swansea Cycles - Fremantle Legend exhibition opening

The WAHCC’s 2019 marque celebration of Swansea Cycles was opened by club Chairperson Robert Frith last Friday evening. The official opening followed an afternoon tea reunion of Swansea alumni; close to twenty of the company’s staff and riders were invited to an exclusive preview of the show. Among them were Les Baldwin’s right hand man for many years, Harold Durant, now 97, ex Freo MP Dr. John Troy and a slew of champion riders from the 50’s and 60’s including Rod Dhue, Bill Gilbride, Clarrie Minciullo, Graham Benthien, Mick O’Sullivan and Peter Buswell.

The following two days were a huge success with over 400 people seeing the exhibition, among them Chris, Celia and Rhiannon Baldwin, the son and granddaughters of Swansea founder and part owner Howard Baldwin. We also had visits from Ray Ellement, frame builder Merv Ellement’s son; Helen Jones, niece of Swansea accountant Ken Pettit; Terry, Roz and Nicole Stevenson, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter of legendary rider Dave Stevenson, later the Swansea factory manager.

A number of club members brought Swansea bikes from their collections for the show and, together with generous loans from members of the public, by Sunday lunchtime there were 34 Swanseas on display. They ranged from a humble delivery bike (Swansea’s own) to a pair of spectacularly restored road race bikes. The earliest bike on show, a verge pickup, dates to 1934 and the most recent a c. 1975 “bike boom” exercise in badge engineering.

Over the course of the weekend we added a dozen bikes to the Swansea Register and gave away 44 numbered tags to owners of registered bikes.

If you missed the show we’re sorry; it was fantastic! All is not lost though; the content that club members produced from interviews prior to the show is available here.

Harold Perry - A Brief Cycling History

Club member Harold Perry died last year after a short illness. Harold was born between the wars in Subiaco near Daglish Station. As a child he rode around Subiaco and to the river and beach, often on bikes that were far too big for him and consequently lasted for many years as he grew into them.

His older brother Charlie and brother in law Stan Cook were talented cyclists. Harold followed in their footsteps and joined the Subiaco Floreat Cycle Club. He particularly enjoyed criterium racing. He raced as a junior and continued until he was posted to Wyalcatchem by the bank he worked for.

On his return to Perth after stints around the wheatbelt he and Judy bought a house in Mt Pleasant and set it up for their young family. Harold was the original cycling commuter from the southern suburbs. He crossed the river at Canning Bridge and rode along tracks, down Melville Beach Parade past The Pagoda and Royal Perth Golf Club to the Old Mill and then across the Narrows and into the city where he worked. 

He rode and swam every day and on weekends would often spend many hours riding off in the wide blue yonder - along the beaches, up in the hills to his twin brother’s house in Kalamunda and out through the backroads of Jandakot and Baldivis to Jarrahdale and beyond. He often rode 28” wheels on gravel roads and tracks where mountain bikes are used today.

When his kids were young he started picking up frames and parts from the tip and made up bikes for the whole family. Kerbside pickups, especially in the infancy of the bulk rubbish days, were a gold mine and many of his 120 bikes were acquired this way.

Harold prided himself on his simple maintenance programme. He had a theory that if he shared the load between lots of bikes then they would never wear out. He didn’t want to see any cycling history lost to landfill. However, rather than restore one or two to pristine condition he preferred to coat the 120 bikes liberally with oil and locate them wherever possible around the yard.

Harold and Judy both enjoyed being members of the Historical Cycle Club, which they joined shortly after it’s inception in 2000. Harold recently served as club treasurer for 7 years. He particularly enjoyed the displays held in country towns.

Harold also rode for many years with the Over 55’s Cycling Club and passed his passion for riding to his two sons Greg and Adrian.

Harold was a lifelong prankster. From flattening pennies on the train tracks near his childhood home to the mischievous note hidden behind his otherwise very proper tie at club meetings he looked for the bright side of every situation.

With thanks to Adrian Perry

Harold introducing one his grandchildren to the joys of the road

Harold introducing one his grandchildren to the joys of the road

1925 Northam to Perth winner A.E. Golder

A piece of West Australian cycling history resurfaced recently when I invited Mal Barker - a multiple State-Champion in his time – for a coffee and a chat about another unrelated project he is currently working on.

Mal - well into his 80’s now - had mentioned in earlier phone conversations that he owned a bike that had been lying in bits under his son’s house in Gidgegannup for the past 20 years.

“It’s not in very good condition, but all the bits are there including the Brooks saddle and the wooden wheels.  A young bloke called Golder, he was about 18 or 19 years old, he won the Northam-to-Perth race on it in 1925. It came with copies of some news articles reporting the race and it’s got some pictures of him crossing the finishing line. If you’re interested, I could bring them down when we meet. I’m never going to get around to fixing it up and my son’s not interested”.

A little bit of research on Trove, an initiative by the National Library of Australia to digitise old newspapers, revealed a number of articles including pictures of the race that confirmed that an 18 year old A.E. Golder had indeed won the Northam to Perth race in September 1925.

The Northam to Perth was a very prestigious blue-ribbon event second only to the Beverley to Perth.

Collectively, the newspaper articles and photos provide a wonderful window back to simpler times between the two world wars. 

As fate would have it, the bike would end up very much forgotten under the Golder house for nearly 75 years. In 1998, Golder’s elderly son-in-law decided it was time to do something with the bike and he gave it to Mal.

To my surprise and delight, though the bike was in poor cosmetic condition, there on the head tube was the original brass badge – The West, Built by West Cycle Ltd of Hay St. The bike’s original components, some of the best available at the time and generally in very good condition included Chater Lea cranks and axle, BSA pedals & headset, Brooks Sprinter saddle and Major Taylor style adjustable head stem. The wooden front wheel was complete and the only missing component of note was the rear hub.  With regard to the frame, of note are the especially fine seat stays, 7/8” diameter top tube and ChaterLea bottom bracket shell. Three types of wooden rims of varying diameters came  with bike – small and large tubular rims and medium sized clinchers.

The bike has been cleaned, fish oiled and coated with conservation wax.  The plan is to leave the bike in very much “as found” condition and to build a rear wood rimmed wheel for display purposes and a set of steel Westwood wheels for the very occasional gentle outing.

The Trove newspaper articles are available here;

Frank West.

At the finish, Golder on his “The West” racer.

At the finish, Golder on his “The West” racer.

Unthanks You Valda Much

Valda Unthanks Amazing Ride Adelaide-Melbourne Record Shattered

H.O.Balfe in The Referee, Oct 27th 1938

When you read about a young woman who smashes a cycling record over hundreds of miles, what is your reaction?

Do you visualise a hard-bitten, brawny, knotty-muscled ‘he-female’ with a weather-tanned face on which you could strike matches? If you do, you’re wrong; Joyce Barry; glamour girl of Australian distance cycling,proved that months and months ago. Now Mrs. Valda Unthank, latest to smash an inter-capital record with her amazing dash last week from Adelaide to Melbourne, follows suit.

They’re both charming feminine types, who look as if around of golf would be their most strenuous pastime.

In the years that have passed, our athlectic sisters have progressed from the adventure of a five miles ‘tour’ on mud-guarded, low-geared ‘wheel’, to track and road racing on the ‘bikes’ their brothers once regarded as sacred to them alone.

Although it is with Valda Unthank and her Adelaide Melbourne record of last week that this story is concerned, in the main it wouldn’t be chivalrous to disregard the others.

Joyce Barry, we know. Like Valda Unthank, she is ‘tops’ at the moment. Vera Harding and Anna Keenin,respectively 23-year-old brunette and 20-year-old blonde, who reached Melbourne last Saturday afterhaving ‘tandemed’ from Perth (W.A.), are right in thelimelight.

Pretty Elsa Barbour; first woman to set an Adelaide Melbourne record, and Mrs Price of Launceston Hobart fame, really pioneered the business of longdistance riding against time by women.

We take off our hat to them all. It seems incredible that they should possess the stamina, endurance andcourage to do what they’ve done but, there it is.

Valda Tells The Story

Had you listened to Valda Unthank’s laconic replies to my questions last Saturday, you might well have imagined that the riding of more than 400 miles and the smashing of an important record was nothing in her young life.

She left the general post office Adelaide at 5 o’clock last Wednesday evening ... rode right through to Melbourne without sleep ... and arrived at the G.P.O. Melbourne at 2.43 a.m. on Friday.

‘Did you have a good ride, Valda’?

‘Oh, yes, very pleasant.’

‘Any trouble on the way?’

‘No, only a puncture.’

‘How were the roads?’

‘Pretty bad on the SouthAustralian side, but splendidin Victoria.’

‘Were you troubled by head winds at all?

‘Oh no, I didn’t notice any.’

‘I suppose loss of sleep must have affected you?’

‘No, as a matter of fact, it didn’t. I had prepared myself for that.’

‘How did you go about that?’

‘Well, l did some longriding in training, and I made up my mind Iwouldn’t be sleepy.’

What a woman! Imagine getting home late andthinking she’d be fast asleep!

‘And what now? I understand there’s a record in Tasmania you’re going to attack?’

‘Yes, I believe there is. But I don’t know when, I leave that to the organisers. I’m just the bike rider, you know.’

What a woman! God’s gift to organisers. They make the plans, Valda does the rest.

Valda trained to a plan. Her friends plotted a route from Adelaide to Melbourne via Bordertown, instead of Adelaide-Melbourne via the Coorong - the track

other record attempters have traversed, and she rode over it once to make its acquaintance.

And Now - How She Broke The Record

On the advice or her, husband and Jack Dalton, Valda took things easily at the start. They wanted herto ‘warm up’ first. In the early stages, until she had climbed the Mount Lofty ranges, she only averaged about 13 miles an hour;

Gradually, increasing her speed, she soon maintained an average of 18 miles, an hour. The first 50 miles were covered in 3 hours 12min; 100 miles in 7.5.20;

150 miles in 11.56; 200- miles in 16.19; 250 miles in 19.12; 300

miles in 22 15; 350 in 25.15; 400 miles in 28.20; 450 miles in 32.0; and the full distance, 475 miles, in

33 hours 13 minutes. Valda covered the last 16 miles in 50 minutes, and when she dismounted at Melbourne

G.P.O. was fresh, though very leg-weary.

In this case, the record is reckoned as from post office to post office.

When Elsa Barbour made her record she rode by way of the Coorong,

Warrnambool, and Geelong covering 507 miles as against Valda’s 475.1.

Elsa’s time, 71 hours 36 minutes undoubtedly was a very meritorious ride. What is more to the point, however, is that Valda’s time bettersby 13 hours 14 minutes the Adelaide

Melbourne record time for men, 46 hours57 minutes made by Ted Waterford in his

Melbourne-Adelaide-Melbourne recordin 1934. This is the official record for men

for the Adelaide Melbourne ride. It was made on a course of 543 miles.

Valda Unthank’s ride was checked officially by Mrs. N. Smith, who followed

throughout by car as representative ofthe Victorian Women’s Amateur Cycling

Association. Incidentally, Valda is hon. secretary of the Australian Women’s Amateur Cyclists’ Union, and also is an official of the Victorian Tourists’Association.

As capable a rider on the track as she is on the roadshe is holder of the following records; Victorian quarter mile (board track), 32 1/5th sec; Melbourne-Nyah (240 miles), 15.28.23: Sale-Bairnsdale (45 miles), 2.18; Melbourne-Wonthaggi (85 miles) 4.51.30; Melbourne- Wonthaggi-Melbourne (174 miles), 10.13; tandem, Sale-Bairnsdale, 2.7.31; one mile, tandem, 1.23.

After enjoying a short spell, Valda Unthank will go to Tasmania where she will attack major long-distance records and carry out official duties on behalf of theAustralian Union.

Screenshot 2018-09-20 21.50.09 c.png

Hector Thomas & Fleet Cycles

Hector Thomas was born in 1900. He joined the army when he was 15 years and 11 months old and went to England.  An accidental meeting with his father, who was also in the army, found him out and he was sent back to Perth.

He was determined and rejoined the army and was sent to Belgium and France. He was certainly one of the youngest to serve from WA. Hector was a signaller with the 13th Battalion. In the battle of Hamel he was wounded but stayed with his unit until the Armistice was signed.

After the First World War he returned from service and worked in the cycle industry from 1919 - 1940. He worked for Armstrong Cycle & Motor Company on Hay Street from 1925 to 1940.

The below reference is from Armstrong when Hector applied to work in a munitions factory. He didn’t end up working in the munitions factory but went off to the Second World War for another five and half years of service.

When he returned he started his own cycle shop, Fleet Cycles on Beaufort Street, Inglewood near 7th Avenue. He used to paint the bikes with enamel with the Fleet Cycles logo and then bake the enamel under lights. He also did bicycle repairs. Hector retired in 1968 when his arthritis became bad. His GP told him to stop working which he did immediately, closing the shop up and selling the property with everything intact.

The name Fleet Cycles was taken over by a bicycle shop owner in Morley for many years.

Hector Thomas lived at 22 Normanby Street, Inglewood.

Mark Powell (Hector's grandson)


Fred Buzza and Swift Cycles

This article is mainly recollections of Fred’s son John Buzza, with some additional detail provided by Allen Buzza. Fred’s Grandson Wes Buzza is keen to find out more about the history of Swift Cycles, please contact the club if you have any recollections to pass on.

My Dad, Alfred William Buzza (Fred to all that knew him), was born on 12th June 1901 in North Perth. His family moved to 2 Mint Street East Victoria Park in about 1902 or 1903. He was the youngest of four with a brother John (Jack) and 2 sisters, Vera and Olivia (Olive).

He attended the state school at Cargill Street Victoria Park and Perth Boys school in Perth. Jack was Killed in action in WW1 on the Western Front.

When Fred left school aged 14 he went into the rag trade and served his apprenticeship as a tailor’s presser. WW1 was in progress and while he was too young to fight he probably worked on military uniforms a lot of the time.

In about 1925 he started a garage business in what is now Rivervale at or near the corner of what is now Enfield Street and Kitchener Avenue. It was called Buzza’s Garage. Fred was hit pretty hard by the great depression of 1929-31and Buzza’s Garage was closed at some point. Ever resourceful Fred worked on stations around Yalgoo in shearing sheds and on farms for a time.

Around 1932 he went into a partnership with Phil someone and they started Sprint Cycles on the corner of Gresham Street in Victoria Park. This partnership dissolved in about 1934 and Fred moved to a shop at 471 Albany Highway; Swift Cycles. Dad used the Buzzalong name for the bicycles and tricycles he manufactured in-house and the Swift name on the bicycle stock he would purchase from the trade.

He married our mother on 10th March 1934, so there may have been a change in the structure of the business at that time. Mumwas a highly qualified nurse, no office wallah, and I think she would have exerted plenty of say in how the business was going to be run from then on. The house they lived in was built in 1928 by Mum’s parents and leftto her and her sister. (Sister Melva lived with them for many years until she married and went to live in Manjimup)

I didn’t come along until 1939,so all I ever knew during my childhood was that Dad had a bike shop and he made bikes. I spent a fair bit of time at the shop with Dad during the war years because Mum was in charge of a first aid post at the Cargill St school and attended there quite a bit. I saw Dad build the bikes from scratch. He used to buy all the components in; various tubing, lugs, rims, spokes, hubs, seats, handle, bars, bells, chains, sprockets, mudguards, ball bearings, brakes, brake rubbers and so on.

He had a forge and brazed the frames together with silver solder. During the war years he went to join up and was “manpowered” because he owned a small business which could be set up if required to manufacture for the war effort. It never came to that, although he was asked to make 2 samples of a small mechanism from a drawing supplied bythe Dept of War. It was top secret and at the time he didn’t know what it was. Years later, he recognised the chap who was from the DoW in the Broken Hill Hotel and was told the samples hemade were a part of a 303 rifle bolt mechanism.

As children, Allen (4 and a half years my junior) and I used to build wheels in front of the kitchen stove while we listened to the radio. We would have been about 6 & 10 by then. Dad was meticulous about the spokes being in the right place. I don’t know if it still the case but there were I think 32 spokes in the front wheel and 40 in the back. We could true the wheels and put the tyres and tubes on when we were quite young too. Dad used to do all his own painting; he had an oven for baking the enamel. He used some decal transfers but all the lining and fancywork he did himself. He had a set of lining brushes.

He also made tricycles to order for disabled and geriatric people. These were tricky as they were specially engineered frames and had to have a split rear axle to enable cornering. I was a test rider o these on more than one occasion. They were tricky to ride too because you didn’t need to try and balance them. They only had a front brake too.

The bikes he made to order were called Buzzalongs. The length of the seat pillar bar and inside leg measurement were critical. Racing bikes were a specialty. He had racing bike riders who used to ride for him in the big races like Beverley to Perth and Northam to Perth. The Northam to Perth came via Red Hill. I can remember going in the car early to Beverley. Mum would pack thermoses and sandwiches. Can’t remember breakfast but we must have had some. I think we went up Great Eastern Highway, branched off at the Lakes and went via York. Idon’t ever remember going via Brookton. It started outside theBeverley Town Hall.

We would then follow the riders down to the finish line in Maylands outside the Peninsular Hotel. As with Northam same thing startedat the town hall came via Toodyay and finished a the MaylandsPeninsular Hotel. They were exciting times.

His road racing activities was mainly sponsorship, although he did some road racing himself. I remember Lionel Felstead and Phil Kidd as two of the riders but I’m sure there were others.

Another scheme he had going was where you bought a book of 10 tickets and sold them for a pound each. That gave you 10 pounds to buy a new bike with. The people you sold the ticket to all came and got a book of tickets and so it went on. It would be illegal now as it is classed as a Ponzi Scheme. Back in those days it sold a lot of bikes.

In 1952 Dad sold the shop to Hi-way Cycles, owned by Les Andrews, whose brother had Swansea Cycles on the corner of Teddington Road and Albany Highway. Hi-way was a motor bike business as well. He had small bikes like BSA Triumph and Nortonbut I don’t think he had any Harleys or Indians.

The bike business was tough in those days. Starting from Hampshire Street in East Victoria Park there was Balmoral cycles, Sprint, Swift, Malvern Star, Swansea - I may have forgotten a couple.

Fred Buzza passed away at the age of 74.

Arthur Richardson

A born adventurer, among his many feats at the turn of the 20th century Arthur Richardson planned and executed the first solo circumcycling of Australia. Hugh Richardson, Arthur's grand nephew, has republished the famous and rare account of Arthur's trip "A Remarkable Ride". Hugh spoke at the January 2018 meeting. Copies of the book are available from Hugh's website


Richardson Reaches Katherine The West Australian Monday September 11th 1899

On Friday evening we received the following telegram from Arthur Richardson, who is engaged in an attempt to cycle round Australia, and who left Perth early in June last :

KATHERINE, September 8.
From Hall’s Creek, the last telegraph station on the West Austral- ian side, I rode across very rough, mountain- ous country to Flora Valley, then running the Regenda Creek down to Booty’s station. Here the bad country for blacks commenced with a rough piece of country to Ord River Station. I got through all right, and, spelling there for two days, I got a look at some maps of the country, for there are no roads or tracks from Ord River to the Katherine. I also got a good supply of our, beef, etc. I made a seven days’ stage “per boot” to Wave Hill, having a very rough time, running out of tucker, and living like a black- fellow. I struck Wave Hill Station all right. Mr. Cahill, the manager, made me very wel- come, and I had a good spell there.
Then, with the worst patch of country in Australia in front of me, I got a black boy to show me a short cut across the ranges to the Victoria River but he “reckoned plenty blackfel- lows all about,” and ran away, the rst night, leaving me “on my own.” I had a very rough time from constant exposure and several falls caused through travelling at night, and had very little sleep, for the blacks are very bad. I had no “ tucker“ but what I could catch, and I was fairly tired out by the time I struck the Victoria River about seven miles below the station. Here Mr. Watson, the manager, insisted on my having a good spell, absolutely refusing to let me go on.
Luckily, while I was there he had news from Wyndham that would take him to Port Darwin at once, so I travelled in with him. We were both glad of company for the blacks are bad all through here, and no one ever goes out mustering without a 9in.“colt” in his belt. The last two hundred and forty miles to the Katherine has not had any wheel traf c on it for four years, so that I could not travel much faster with my bike than Mr. Watson with the horses. We got in here this afternoon. My bike tyres are all right, and I am going strongly.