Write up from Brighton and Hove Clarion
The 114th Clarion Easter Meet at Ramsbottom
Ian and Sue very kindly gave me a lift Up North. Ramsbottom is quite near Bury, where I was born and bred and where my sister and family still live. I was able to kill two birds with one stone: attend my first Easter Meet and see my family. Well, three really as Ramsbottom is a station on the East Lancs Railway and I’m passionate about steam trains! The social on Good Friday night was a good place to put faces to names: after a blues singer had knocked out some Stones favourites, Bury Section’s Peter Roscoe read from ‘The Lion and Albert’, and the Clarion’s fastest growing section West Lothian (with a high proportion of Junior members) performed their Club Song with ukulele accompaniment (two of them had cycled down from Scotland on fixed-wheel bikes!), I got a lift home with Donald Lever, the Membership Secretary, who’d been in the same class as me at school.
I missed the hill climb on Saturday morning as it started at the crack of dawn and was all over by breakfast. The Conference was rather longer and more technical than anticipated, with the added surprise at the end that our Section (aka Bob Harber) was to host next year’s meet – in Eastbourne! After this, I sloped off to Rawtenstall to seek out Britain’s last Temperance Bar and sample a sarsaparilla (80p), followed by the first of many rides on steam trains. Saturday night was an excellent buffet supper, and luckily I had to leave to catch my two buses home before the ceilidh band came on.
Sunday was the highlight of the weekend with a car trip to the Clarion House Cafe, the other side of Burnley. The weather was glorious and we were able to take our 50p pints of Clarion tea outside and enjoy magnificent views over the Pendle hills. Other more hardy lycra-clad Clarionettes had cycled there, a leisurely 40-mile excursion with plenty of challenging undulations. Afterwards, Ian and Sue joined me on a round trip of the ELR and were delighted to be pulled by a loco (80098) built at Brighton Works in 1954. After a drink in the pub next door (with its own bowling green half way up the hill) we repaired to the Annual Dinner. Unfortunately I had to leave before the speeches. No doubt Ian will fill us in.
Postscript: On Tuesday, on the recommendation of one of the Clarion officers, I went to view a fabulous exhibition of Walter Crane’s work at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester entitled ‘Art and Labour’s Cause is One’. A whole bay was devoted to the Clarion, with letters and artwork – and a photo of the Clarion ‘van’, including the National Clarion logo (not the ‘Fellowship is Life’ one, but the one with ‘Socialism: the Hope of the World’) and various versions of the popular poster ‘A Garland for May Day 1895’.