Cyclists are gearing up for a day of nostalgia to mark the 75th anniversary of Britain's first ever road race, which had its birthplace in Wolverhampton.

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And they will be remembering the City's world famous cycle racer and maker Percy Stallard, who organised and championed the historic 59 mile race.

Despite opposition at the time from the National Cyclists' Union, Percy organised the race for 40 cyclists who rode from Llangollen to Wolverhampton on 7 June, 1942.

To celebrate the landmark event which changed the face of British cycling, people are invited to a special event at Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies, in the restored Molineux Hotel building, on Saturday 3 June from 10am to 1pm.

Scores of restored Stallard bikes, a Sunbeam and other Wolverhampton-made bicycles will be on show alongside displays, photographs and memories about the ground-breaking race and Percy himself.

The Friends of the Archives will provide refreshments and Wolverhampton City Radio FM is broadcasting its regular Saturday Sport Report live from the event.

Percy, who died aged 92 in 2001, ran his cycle shop in Broad Street and made much sought-after bespoke cycles.

He became a member of the Wolverhampton Wheelers cycling club and regularly took part in races, competing for Great Britain internationally during the 1930s including in three consecutive World Championships in 1933, 1934 and 1935. He was also a successful cycling coach and team captain.

He came up against opposition for his planned road race because, until 1942, cycling in Britain was all track racing. Percy wanted a mass road race much like those held on the continent.

He recruited 40 riders to take part and got sponsorship from the Express & Star, offering any profits to the newspaper's Forces Comfort Fund.

Bike enthusiast and collector Luke Williams, 37, from Newbridge, works at Halfords in Wolverhampton and is helping organise the 75th anniversary celebrations.

He said: "Percy's own bikes are legendary and examples of them, along with other Wolverhampton makes, will be on show. It will be wonderful to see lots of cycling enthusiasts celebrate the city's cycling heritage and the anniversary of this historic event."

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, added: "Wolverhampton has many famous sons and Percy Stallard was certainly one of them. He was instrumental in changing the face of British cycling with this road race and so it is only right we mark its 75th anniversary."

  • released: Thursday 20 April, 2017