Arthur Wood wins a Gold Medal in Wivenhoe's first ever cycle race in 1897
Marrtin Beckett, grandson of Arthur Wood, presents the medal to the Wivenhoe Chapel Museum
Written by Peter Hill
Martin Beckett contacted the Wivenhoe History Group in August 2023 to say that he and his sister, Melissa Boyde, wanted to come to Wivenhoe at the end of September to see where his grandfather, Arthur Wood, was born and grew up. He told us it was here that his grandfather had won a gold medal in a cycling race.
Armed with little more information than that, super-sleuths, John Foster and Michael Smither, managed between them to compile a family tree, identify where three members of the family were buried in Wivenhoe’s Old & New Cemeteries and send Martin an account of the cycle race.
The Wivenhoe Cycling Club and Arthur Wood
Dick Barton, in his book WIVENHOE – Its Attractions, Pleasures and Eccentric Natives (published 1975) recorded:
They started the Wivenhoe Cycling Club in February 1896 at a meeting in the Park Hotel. The Rev J. R. Sinclair Carolin was appointed president (although he later opted for a bicycle with a motor) and joiner Jack Nicolle became club captain. Both Jack and his brother Watty, were crazy about cycling.
With ten others on July 7, 1897, Jack lined up for a 20-mile road race from Park Farm, Wivenhoe, to the Black Boy, Weeley and back again. A Mr Arthur Wood came home first, completing the course in one hour, sevn minutes and 50 seconds. For his trouble he was given a gold medal, presented to the cycling club by Mr Arthur Goodwin, managing director of the Tom-Tit cycle company of Birmingham.”
A fortnight later some 40 cyclists took part in an event in Wivenhoe. Clearly, cycling was taking off at that time and Arthur Wood was in its vanguard.
Martin presents the Gold Medal to the Chapel Museum
Martin and his sister generously decided that the medal should stay in Wivenhoe even though Arthur George Wood left Wivenhoe some time after winning the cycling race to work for a firm on the Isle of Grain, in Kent, before retiring to Colchester where he ended his days. He died in 1964 and was buried in Colchester Cemetery.
They visited Wivenhoe on 30th September 2023 and met with John Foster and a few other members of the History Group. At that meeting they presented John Foster with the medal which Martin’s grandfather had won in Wivenhoe’s first ever cycle race on 7th July, 1897.
John afterwards showed them the Chapel Museum and took them around the old and new cemeteries in search of the graves of the three members of the Wood’s family who are buried in Wivenhoe.