Reg Harris

by Crosshouses   July 7, 2014  

I was riding through Chelford this morning and stopped at the parish church to have a look a Reg Harris's grave. It's about 2 weeks since the anniversary of his death and I expected to see some indication that the occasion had been suitably marked.

Instead I found it rather neglected and felt sad that a great British cyclist has, apparently, been forgotten.

I know that Harris was not the ideal family man, but I did think that members of his club, Manchester Wheelers would have done something as a tribute to their former member, especially as they are not strangers to the area.

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I never knew Reg Harris was buried in Chelford. I cycle past this church every week, beginning in Bury, where Reg Harris came from. I'm planning to ride the Reg Harris sportive in August, so it would appear he is remembered and celebrated, in some quarters.
When I was a kid, growing up in the 70's, along with my friends we were all aware of Reg Harris, from our parents, who would refer to him as a world class cyclist, up there with Merckx, This coming Sunday as I pass the church I'll pass a nod in his direction.

TerryL

posted by El Tel [8 posts]
7th July 2014 - 21:46

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El Tel wrote:
I'm planning to ride the Reg Harris sportive in August, so it would appear he is remembered and celebrated, in some quarters.

Absolutely TerryL, I'm part of Bury Clarion and the Reg Harris ride in the summer is a key event for hundreds of local cyclists, and every year sees a fantastic turnout from both veterans and those new to cycling. Gone, but not forgotten, by any means.

YorkshireMike's picture

posted by YorkshireMike [92 posts]
8th July 2014 - 10:37

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There's a lovely big bronze statue of him at the National Cycling Centre. It's up above the track, on the exit of the second bend, looks like he's just preparing to swoop down the bank and outsprint everyone for the line.

Between that and the annual sportive I'd say he's far from forgotten and I'm not sure you could ask for two more fitting tributes to the man.

posted by Bhachgen [106 posts]
9th July 2014 - 12:44

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Bhachgen wrote:
There's a lovely big bronze statue of him at the National Cycling Centre. It's up above the track, on the exit of the second bend, looks like he's just preparing to swoop down the bank and outsprint everyone for the line.

Yep, a fantastic piece of work it is.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Environment/Pix/columnists/2012/8/23...

posted by farrell [1912 posts]
9th July 2014 - 12:57

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Thanks Crosshouses for bringing this to our attention and thanks to everyone who also made kind comments.
It’s true that Reg Harris was one of the most exalted members of a club which I have the great honour to be the vice-president.
There are still some of our members who rode with Reg and knew him well, but as you can imagine, due to age they are now very thin on the ground.
The great majority of our members are too young to appreciate what a star Reg was, but he is not forgotten, as every year we present the Reg Harris Trophy to the winner of our handicap championship.
I was born in the decade when Reg started to have an impact on European and World sprinting and I only met him on only a couple of occasions, furthermore I found him to be a perfect gentleman. This was when, in his mid 50s, he came out of retirement to compete in the UK professional championships, beating a man around half his age for the title.
I was just one of the many Wheelers’ members who went to Reg’s funeral in 1992 and on behalf of the club; I hope we will try to officially remember someone who was almost the David Beckham of his time. Unfortunately, although Reg did make his fortune, he did not attract anything like the wealth of that particular footballer.
I will confer with the other senior club officials in the hope we can ensure that in the future, Reg’s anniversary is marked in some way; if only by an announcement on our club forum.
It’s also true that the Manchester Wheelers’ Club are not strangers to the area of Reg’s final resting place. Apart from those members who must ride by St. Johns Church on a regular basis, we also hold our ‘club’ 10s on a course which crosses Chelford Island; just several hundred yards from the church. Perhaps we can do more to keep his grave in better order.

K Stand Ken

posted by K Stand Ken [55 posts]
9th July 2014 - 15:44

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Nice reply from Wheelers' Vice President.

Seems I can't get away from Reg today - this came into my email inbox this afternoon from the rather marvellous Museum of Science and Industry:

This summer we're celebrating cycling at MOSI, and we'd love you to join us.
From bone shaker bikes and Empire Games medals, to contemporary track bikes and hi-tech kit, our Pedal Power exhibition is a tribute to track cycling, technology and teamwork.

Take a trip around our mini reconstruction of the Manchester Velodrome, explore the science behind Team GB’s recent successes and pit yourself against Olympic greats on our time trial bike.

Discover the stories behind the city’s cycling legends, including Britain’s first cycling superstar Reg Harris and 1928 Olympic Silver medallist Jack Sibbit.

Pedal power is a free exhibition celebrating everything that is great on two wheels.

Open daily, 10am – 5pm

posted by Bhachgen [106 posts]
9th July 2014 - 17:17

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Thanks to the Wheelers VP for his gracious reply.

When I saw the grave the first thing to come into my mid was the Blind Lemon Jefferson song, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean".

When I was a boy in the 1950s Reg Harris was synonymous with cycling as Stirling Moss was with motor racing and Stanley Matthews with football - he was a huge star.

I'll be taking some flowers next time I'm riding that way.

Crosshouses's picture

posted by Crosshouses [264 posts]
9th July 2014 - 23:03

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Crosshouses wrote:
I'll be taking some flowers next time I'm riding that way.

Thanks for that, with any luck you'll see a much tidier grave and plenty of floral tributes to the great man.
The exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry was put on with much help from another Wheelers' member who is a lead archivist there. He and the curator were given access to our considerable archives to gather material for it.

K Stand Ken

posted by K Stand Ken [55 posts]
11th July 2014 - 17:21

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There's a biography about him too, that came out a few years ago.

posted by Kadenz [66 posts]
11th July 2014 - 20:50

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