Pickwick Bicycle Club
Group From 22/6/1870
The oldest surviving cycling club in the world was founded at Downs Hotel, during the craze for the newly evolving bicycle, just 2 weeks after Charles Dickens died. The founding members honoured him, as many other societies had done, by adopting the eponymous name from his first, and very successful novel, 'The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club'.
From Timeline (2020 link dead): "... Well, in 1870 six Hackney men had taken their shiny new bicycles out to the country for a ride. That evening, they sat in The Downs Hotel. As they chatted on about this new craze, they decided they would start up a bicycle club. There was a long talk about what they should call their new club.
Suddenly someone came up with the idea "The Pickwick Bicycle Club": Charles Dickens, the author of The Pickwick Papers, had just died and people were feeling very sad about that, so all six of the men agreed on the new name. They made a rule that all the members of the club would have a nickname chosen from Charles Dickens’ book - and that the club uniform would be "simply a white straw hat with a black and amber ribbon".
The Club was a huge success - they went on rides out to the countryside every weekend, enjoying their cycling long after the new inventions came in one by one (the car, the aeroplane, the motorbike .....).
Now, 137 years later, the Pickwick Bicycle Club is STILL going strong (men only - with a very long waiting list). The Club, started in Hackney all those years ago, is proud to be the oldest bicycle club in the whole world. They still keep to the same rules - wearing the hats and the nicknames from the book."
Book: 'History of the Pickwick Bicycle Club' by Walter E. Blake.
2020: Club still going strong.
2022: Ian Visits, reporting on an exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum, includes a photograph of the front cover of the Members Register of the Pickwick Bicycle Club, 1909 - 1926. This gives two addresses for their HQ: 9(?) Rathbone Place and 18 Eldon Street, suggesting that the club moved during the period that the register covers.