RSF - The Off Road Cycling Club

The Adventure Starts Here

The Rough-Stuff Fellowship

60 years a-cycling - a commemorative special

On Whit Sunday 29th May 1955 about ‘Forty members who, in pursuit of their pastime, traverse the rougher and less beaten ways’ attended the inaugural meeting of the Rough-Stuff Fellowship held at the ‘Black Swan’, Leominster. Charlie Chadwick of Bolton took the chair by general approval. Right from the start, we learn from the minutes, there was some controversy about whether a minimum age of 16 should be set and after the considerable debate, this was approved. We’ve come a long way now sixty years later but who doesn’t recognize 'controversy’ and ‘debate’ at our AGMs at the Easter Meets!

It is interesting to know that the Easter Meet we still have was chosen in 1955 because at the first meet ‘it was obvious that those present felt that future meetings were essential and useful ... and after discussion and a vote, Easter was decided’. 60 years on and lots of things have changed, including bicycles and hairstyles, but we managed to hang on to Easter time to come together and socialise, join rides, enjoy the meals and have controversies and heated debates at the AGM.

Before it all really officially started at the Black Swan, the idea of setting up the RSF as a fellowship of cyclists traversing the rougher ways had been ripening in the minds of various riders. It took a while to work it out into something attractive but by the end of 1954 the first proposals, written down by W.H. (Bill) Paul for the founding of the RSF, appeared in the cycling press. 10 people reacted enthusiastically. They are, together with Bill Paul, indeed the founding members. A year later membership had reached 165 and over the years membership steadily increased to an all-time high of well over 1000 in the 1980s and now in 2015 more or less stable at around 600.

Diving into my personal and other members’ archives yielded a lot of information on how the RSF developed over the years and together with the material I received from other members I managed to compile the overview, with emphasis on the early years, you will find on the following pages. Enjoy.

Henk Francino,

General Secretary.