Beryl Burton stage play is ‘the recognition Mum deserves’ says cyclist daughter

Yorkshire Festival will run alongside Tour de Yorkshire providing cultural entertainment

by Sarah Barth   April 20, 2014  

Beryl Burton and Graham Webb.jpg

A stage adaptation of a play about Beryl Burton, one of the greatest female cyclists in the world, will be ‘the recognition Mum deserves’, her daughter has said in the run up to the show, which stars Maxine Peake and will play during the Tour de Yorkshire this summer.

Burton, from Morley, won 122 national titles over five decades, and Maxine Peake is paying tribute to her in a stage adaptation of her BBC Radio 4 production Beryl. The play will be put on at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Burton dominated women’s cycling in the UK throughout the 60s and into the 70s, winning seven world titles in that time.

In 1967 Burton set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles - a record that even men couldn't beat for another two years.

In 1964 she was awarded an MBE and in 1968 an OBE.

Denise Burton-Cole, the cyclist’s daughter, who also competed in the 1972 World Championships told the Yorkshire Post: “Mum’s getting the recognition she deserves, it’s lovely and heartening that people are so interested, I realise now just how outstanding she was.

“She died about 17 years ago, and the years before that she wasn’t the best in the country. So the years that she was the best were a long time ago – her first medal was in 1959.”

“We were just ordinary folk. Everything that was done was done out of their own pockets,” Denise said.

“My dad worked full-time with an evening job at one point as well and mum worked part-time on a farm. He was a massive part of mum’s cycling, she wouldn’t have done what she achieved without him for as long – he was driver, mechanic and child minder.”

“It was very much done on a shoe string. She managed to get women’s cycling recognised – all the sports writers knew about it,” Denise said. “Women were a back seat to the men in cycling.”

She added that in the run up to the Tour de Yorkshire: “Mum would have been out there riding her bike up to Buttertubs and out to the Yorkshire Dales and watched them at a high vantage point. She would have been thrilled to see it come here.”

The Beryl stage show will run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds from June 30 to July 19. For more information click here.

Written by the actress Maxine Peake, the idea for the original radio play, Beryl: a Love Story on Two Wheels, came as soon as she heard about Burton.

She said: “I just sort of stumbled across her really. My boyfriend, who's obsessed with building old racing bikes, bought me her book for a birthday present and there was a note inside, get your hair in a curly perm and there's a part in here for you. 

"I read it and thought, why don't I know about this woman? I cycle and enjoy it, but a sportswoman of this calibre who was at the top of her game for so long, why hadn't Beryl filtered through to the mainstream?”

For more information about the Yorkshire Festival, check out our guide to the events.

2 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The length of Beryl's career was absolutely astounding.

Truly unique and all done before any national structures, sponsors etc., all done on her own with just the support of clubs and family.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [794 posts]
20th April 2014 - 11:32

19 Likes

The Radio 4 play was absolutely outstanding so if that's anything to go by, Peake on the stage should be great. Hope it gets packed out with Charlie Burton guest of honour on the opening night.

posted by nick_rearden [862 posts]
21st April 2014 - 22:15

1 Like