November is a time for remembrance, Men and women, transported from everyday life to serve their country and to fight in theatres of conflict hundreds and thousands of miles away in foreign fields.
Remembrance day was borne out of the massive loss of life in Europe and the massive outpouring of grief from families back on the home front. Many of the men who went over to fight were formed into ‘Pals Regiments’ , the idea behind these been that it would encourage friends, neighbours, brothers, fathers, sons to all sign up together. This had a devastating effect on communities meaning that huge numbers of the population were taken away to fight, some never to return.
So I guess you’re thinking how does this link into cycling? At the start of WW1 Britain was reaping the benefits of the industrial revolution and was booming. Advances in technology and manufacturing processes meant that new affordable products to make everyday life easier were appearing. There was also another major (and possibly more important) development, the design and accessibility of the Bicycle. By 1885 Joseph Kemp Starley had perfected the design and usability of the ‘Rover Safety’ Bicycle, a design that has been the skeleton for cycle design since. So, design, sorted; production / affordability, sorted; a population with a passion to try new innovations and ride on the wave of progress, sorted.
Ride together, fight together, live and die together
Cycling is a massive part of my life and the social side of it is an important factor. I have made may friends through cycling, my regular Thursday night ride mates have been riding together for over 20 years, riding all over the UK and abroad in the Alps and Dolomites. We have shared some amazing times, and a camaraderie exists that means entertaining banter and inspiring riding. If we were around at the turn of WW1 I am quite sure a few of us would have been drawn in by the fervor around the pals regiments. Many of the young men who would have signed up to fight on the front line in 1914 would have been as passionate cyclists as we are, enjoying riding on the crest of the growing popularity of the sport we love and also relishing the camaraderie similar to what we enjoy on our group rides today.
Many new clubs and groups were set up to fuel this passion and to bring like minded individuals together, as a band of brothers (and sisters). Sheffield was no exception, and two of the Sheffield’s oldest clubs, Sharrow CC (founded in 1887) and Rutland CC (founded in 1905) would have been welcoming riders, some of who may have bought their bikes from Sheffield’s oldest cycle shop, Langsett Cycles (founded 1890). There would have been lots more cycle shops to choose from in the city too, many have now disappeared into the mists of time, the only thing remaining in some cases is a faded image of the proud shop owners standing outside their shop. The roads would have been more like the graded bridleways. By the 1910s cars would have been becoming a fairly common site in the city and surrounding ‘roads’, as would horse drawn trams (and the pungent smell of fresh horse manure). So to escape the hustle and bustle cyclists would take part in club rides and social rides to escape work and everyday troubles, every pedal stroke getting closer to the green fringes of what would have been Sheffield’s roaring and echoing industrial heart, ultimately heading for the Peaks and beyond. A striking similarity as to why we ride today, with Sheffield’s ‘green corridors’ taking riders out to explore ‘The Outdoor City’.
The Bicycle on the front line
At the outbreak of WW1 the bicycle was a technological marvel. The army saw the potential of the bicycle as a way to quickly mobilise troops and maintain lines of communication. This was not just the case on for the Allied Forces, but for other armies too. The Italian troops were the proud owners of a folding Bianchi bike, this allowed them to mobilise through the Dolomites efficiently. The British Army had many ‘Cyclist Companies’ at the start of the war, however as the harsh reality of the mechanised slaughter of troops crept in, many of these were disbanded or merged into infantry or engineer battalions.
Sheffield at war – points of interest
Riding around Sheffield there is still evidence of the impact the war had on the homefront. Aside from the social and emotional impact, the war also had an impact on some of the areas we regard as now peaceful. To commemorate remembrance day Sheffield Urban CX has put together a route that takes riders through some of these areas, past ghostly outlines of practice trenches and the foundations of a prisoner of war camp are a few of the points of interest on this route that takes in Road and off road tracks, these are rideable on a CX / Gravel Bike, MTB or even a hybrid. Due to the loose surfaces on some of the trails we would advise that the full carbon road bike is left at home. The route starts in Sheffield City centre and heads out up Ecclesall Rd, the through the green corridor out of the city into the Peak District.
Our friends at Routey have mapped out the Sheffield Urban CX Remembrance rando route and marked points of interest
Routey was set up by Julian Cole and Andrew Whiteley from Sheffield (which is where most of the routes currently are), avid outdoors-ers in response to their frustration about a lack of a super-simple way to find routes without trawling through a whole lot of nonsense.
Distance : 43k
Ascent : 2838ft (this is Sheffield!)
Time taken – 3-5hrs
Surface: Road – tarmac – gravel surfaced Bridleway
Here is a bit more background
We hope you enjoy the route and it would be great to read your comments. Below are a few of the key points of Interest on the route.
Sheffield Cenotaph and Women of Steel statue.
Our route starts in the city centre at Barkers Pool. This is the location of the Sheffield Cenotaph. It is also the location of a recent addition to commemorate the role played by Sheffield women in the war. The ‘Women of Steel’ statue represents two female steel workers. With a high percentage of the male population away fighting, these ladies stepped up to fill the places in the many factories and steel mills of Sheffield, where output was vital to the war effort.
‘Mi Amigo’ B-17 Crash site memorial
Feb 22nd 1944, the crew of the US airforce B-17 Mi Amigo were returning from a bombing mission in Germany. Speculation is the stricken plane and its crew went off course, being based on the East Coast its thought that the Mi Amigo sustained damage to it’s navigation instruments, which put her too far north. Damage sustained from the tenacious german fighter cover as they left the Danish coast for home and lack of fuel meant the plane had to crash land. It was @17:00hrs, Captain John Kriegshauser navigated the plane over the rows of houses that edge Endcliffe Park and headed for the open parkland, pulling up enough to avoid children who were playing football. The Mi Amigo crashed where the memorial is now.
More information about the Mi Amigo can be found on the following links
WW1 Training Camp
WW1 Zeppelin lookout post / gun emplacement
WW1 Prisoner of war camp
WW2 German and Italian Prisoner of War Camp
The area surrounding the site of the Prisoner of War Camp at Redmires was originally used as a racecourse in the 1870s, however, this fell at the first hurdle (sorry) as the ground is marshy and the wind blows across the moors. The site was used for artillery practice by a Sheffield Battalion in WWI. In 1914 a camp was built for the Sheffield Battalion, who subsequently were destined to fight in the horrific Somme offensive. The site was then used to house German Prisoners of War between 1917 and 1919. Between the wars it was used as a smallpox hospital and as an extension to the Lodge Moor hospital, which stood further down the hill, towards Sheffield.
This camp was demolished in the 1930s and in 1939 a new Prisoner of War camp was built in a slightly different position to the original. It housed German and Italian Prisoners of War between 1939 and 1947. The camp was subsequently burnt down and a woodland planted in the 1950s. Nature has since re-claimed the area, however the ghostly moss covered foundations of the camp can still be seen.
Head for the car park for the playing fields and there are some paths into the woods. Pop in for a lunch or drink stop at the Three Merry Lads or Sportsman pub and enjoy the views.
For more information on the WW1 Training camp
More information on the POW camps
The Camp also witnessed the murder of an inmate in 1945
Longshaw Lodge – Longshaw Estate
WW1 soldiers hospital
Taken from House and Heritage- Longshaw Lodge entry by David Poole
During World War 1 the house would play an important role. The Military Base Hospital, operated by the Territorial Force Medical Services in Sheffield, at the Teacher Training College on Ecclesall Road, was under immense pressure with an unremitting stream of sick and wounded soldiers. An appeal was made for overspill amenities and, in February 1915, the Duke of Rutland donated the use of the lodge for convalescing patients. Wounded men would arrive at Sheffield Station before being taken to the Base Hospital. As soon as their health allowed they were moved to Base Hospital Sections. Longshaw’s rural scenery provided a restful setting for those damaged by the war. In time over 60 soldiers, from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, would be accommodated. From here they were allowed to roam the moorland, sail boats on the lake and visit local houses, such as Haddon Hall and Eyam Hall.
Longshaw Lodge Sphagnum Moss was used to help treat soldiers wounds on the battle field. Volunteers harvested the moss during the war for it to be sent to the front line. Find out more here
Some fantastic images of soldiers at Longshaw can be found here
Weston Park Yorkshire and Lancashire WW1 and WW2 memorials
Weston Park Boer War Remembrance Gate
After the hustle and bustle of riding through Broomhill (A57), on your return to Sheffield Weston Park provides a welcome bit of peace. This is a worthy stop as the Yorkshire and Lancashire war memorial. The bronze sculptures representing the troops painstakingly detailed, and a worthy tribute to the fallen. There is also a plaque that stands to the side of the main memorial that commemorates the fallen in the Boer War back in the 1880s. The South African and Transval campaigns still racked up many British casualties,
In July 2016, to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme, Weston Park was dedicated as a Fields in Trust Centenary Field by Sheffield City Council because of its local heritage and significance. The York & Lancaster Memorial within the park commemorates the loss of more than 8,800 soldiers during the First World War, including the Sheffield Pals brigade