History of Cycling in Lewisham

Cycling has a long history in the Lewisham borough area, from the first velocipede races held at Crystal Palace in 1869 to the Tour de France in 2007.

Formal cycling clubs began in 1885 with the creation of Lewisham Cycling Club and St Peter's of Brockley. Catford Cycling Club was formed in 1886 but survived longest. By 1894 there were 6 cycling clubs in the borough.

In 1895 Catford CC built its famous cycling track at Sportsbank Street, Catford. It was described at "the best cycle track in Europe" as well as the largest, and was the first to be constructed in England with banking. It covered 9 acres with seating for 1,000 spectators.

Catford was selected as the location for the famous Simpson Chain Matches in 1896. Simpson challenged the best cyclists of the day to prove his bicycle chain was the best. The Gladiator pacing team came over from France to participate accompanied by Toulouse Lautrec, an avid cycling fan, who used the event to make sketches for his Le Chaine Simpson posters.

By 1897 Catford CC was the foremost track racing club in Britain with branches in Paris, Bristol, Cardiff and Nottingham and 434 members.

Catford CC produced 4 world champions and 2 members made the 1912 Olympics team. The club is still active today with a programme of trialling and road and track racing.

Cycling in Lewisham Timeline

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