Laindon Bicycle Polo Team

By William Diment

The archive requests information in respect of Laindon Bicycle Polo Club. I was a member, although not in the photograph, but macular degeneration prevents me from identifying those who were.

Photo:Laindon Cycle Polo Team

Laindon Cycle Polo Team

The club was formed circa 1935 by Sid Hayden, the manager of the AMA Building Supplies. As it was over 75 years ago I can only remember some of the names of players. Chris Collings (Capt), Joe Oliver (England Goalkeeper), George Wellington, Reg & Ray Ferrer, Laurie Hatherall, Alan Mitchell, Wilf Simpson and Howard Hutchins.

Cycle Polo was a winter sport and no competitive league games were ever played in Laindon as they were all played on Sundays at the league ground at Roydon Milhouse, although highlights were sometimes shown at the Radion Cinema, by courtesy of Pathe Gazette and British Movietone News.

However in the summer we practised on the Laindon Hotel meadow and gave some light hearted exhibitions on carnival days, using ramshackle cycles to avoid damage to our match customised Claude Butler frames, supplied via Geo. Fuller Cycles of The Broadway, Laindon.

The club was very successful and in 1937 competed in the national finals at the elite Hurlingham Polo Club but were narrowly beaten by a south London club, Norwood Paragon.
The club ceased to exist with the outbreak of war. Cycle Polo was a serious game and not a carnival sideshow as some believe. I understand that it is still played but not in this part of the country.

This page was added by William Diment on 27/06/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

I think it is fantastic that Paul Brown, 20.04.14, has a genuine prewar Claude Butler polo cycle frame in new condition and hope it could be possible for a photo of this to be made available for the archives.

He states it has a label with an address of the original purchaser, would this be Geo.Fuller who was the local supplier or a person who had ordered direct.

As to the specs, the wheels were normal 26 x one and three quarter being slightly wider and better on wet and muddy surfaces, bearing in mind that this was a winter sport.  However, the cranks could be very difficult to find these days having a very small chain wheel, also a fixed wheel sprocket would be needed as the bikes had no brakes.

Initially in the early days of makeshift cycles people would use cut down handlebars, the progression to custom made frames had a wider handle bar similar to an inverted lauterwasser but slightly narrower and shallower. The saddle was similar to that of sports cycles but the saddle stem either had no horizontal projection or would be altered to have the projection facing to the rear to enable the saddle to be moved slightly further over the back wheel for the benefit of those with longer legs.

Finally would Paul care to say from whom he obtained the cycle, was it a member of the club whose name may not have been previously posted?

By W.H.Diment
On 21/04/2014

Hi.  Many years ago a friend gave me a Claude Butler polo frame complete with chain set and spare set of forks.  I still have it.  It has never been built up and retains some of the original packing including the wooden spacer between the rear ends.

It also has the name and address of the person who ordered the frame on a label tied to it.  Can anybody advise on the overall spec for the wheels bars, stem and saddle as I am considering building it up.

Thanks in advance.

By Paul Brown
On 20/04/2014

Further to this page, are there any other surviving members apart from myself. 

For Elaine, one of her father's greatest assets was his power in striking the ball and on several occasions scored from 'goalkicks'. This was due to his ability to strike with the head of the mallet which was very difficult as it is set at an angle to the shaft to facilitate the "correct" shot with the side, although there was nothing illegal in doing so, but simply a much smaller striking surface, but would be frowned upon by the pony riding teams'.

Editor: I have added an additional article with photograph of the Laindon Bicycle Polo team click to see

By W.H.Diment
On 13/02/2013

Hi. I'm Joe Oliver's daughter and I am so thrilled to see him named here. I never realised he was Goalkeeper for England! Shows you how quiet he kept his successes!

What I do have are 2 medals of his. One is L.B.P.C.Eastern Counties Winners 1937-38 - the other National Championship 1938 3rd. 

Also, a photo of the team which I will try to scan on. Love this site!

By Elaine Elsey
On 12/02/2013

Responding to Evan Connon and his request in respect of bicycle polo frames; pre-war we used to obtain our frames from Messrs Claude Butler in London, this firm is still very much in business and will I suggest, be still able to produce these.

His comment in respect of these being in short supply explains why the Pathe film dated 1958 shows teams with the ordinary makeshift machines that we used to have in the earlier days of our existence.

I am surprised that teams today do not have these customised frames, as they were of a very short wheelbase, with the saddle down-tube curved to allow the rear wheel to slot between the riders legs and the saddle was position over the hub of the rear wheel, this allowed the rider to lift the front and spin round on the rear wheel to reverse direction, something that is only possible on some BMX cycles with foot rests fitted to the rear hubs.

Hopefully Evan will be able to obtain these which will greatly increase playing standards.

By W.H.Diment
On 20/05/2012

Hi Colin I have seen that film with bicycle polo in Dublin and we have some of the players like John Brooks and others that are in the film and other photos of bicycle polo. 

We are also glad to tell you that we have found the olimpic Meddles Ireland won in 1908 and the cup. We have also have found the first ever Bicycle polo meddles dated 1896 won by the Rathclaren Rovers who ware the first team to play the great sport of bicycle polo in the Scalp Co Wicklow. 

Bicycle polo Ireland website is visted 15,000 times each year and thats why we want to have all information on bicycle polo Clubs and the players. So any information and photots we would love and we are going to get a link for your page set up.

Editor: We are still in contact with a member of the Laindon Cycle Polo team and writer of the original article and I will ensure he is made aware of your interest.

By Evan Connon
On 19/05/2012

Hi Evan, You may find this link to British Pathe of interest; there are a number of short films about Bicycle Polo including one filmed in Dublin in 1938.

http://www.britishpathe.com/search/query/bicycle+polo/originalquery/bycycle+polo

By Colin Humphrey
On 18/05/2012

Hello, Bicycle Polo Ireland here.  We are wondering if you had any old photos of any people playing bicycle polo and if you had any old stories as we would like to add them to our website. Do you know if any the polo bikes are still around?  If so, the Bicycle Polo Ireland would buy them off any person as they are very hard to come by.

Thanks again Evan Connon - Check out our web site www.bicyclepoloireland.com

By Evan Connon
On 18/05/2012

I remember my Dad (Reg Ferrier) going to practise with his brother Eric and Chris Collings. His bike used to be stored in our shed in Railway Approach.

By Colin Ferrier
On 22/09/2011

I believe the Laindon Bipol was formed circa 1934/5 by Sid Hayden who was the manager of the AMA Building Supplies who later opened his own business. I was a member from 1937 and others I can remember were Chris Collings (Capt), Joe Oliver (England international goalkeeper), George Wellington, Alan Mitchell, Laurie Hatheral, Reg and Ray Ferrier, Wilfred Simpson and others I cannot call to mind.

It was a winter sport and league games were all played at one large venue by the river Lea at Roydon Mill House although during the summer some exhibitions were played on carnival days and we did practice on summer evenings at the Laindon Hotel meadow. Laindon was a successful club and in 1937 featured in the national championship at the famous Hurlingham Polo Club, but were beaten by a south London club, Norwood Paragon.

The photo would seem to date back to the very early days of the club as Laindon had a very smart red and black strip and the match cycles were customised short wheel base specially made for sport by Claude Butler although ramshackle cycles as seen in the photo were used for practice and some exhibitions were audience participation was invited.

The last reminder I had of the club was two or three years age when I saw the obituary of Wilfred Simpson in the local paper.

By W.H. Diment
On 22/09/2011