Dr Colin Bradsworth
Dr Colin Charles Bradsworth (pic left – back row centre, Bradsworth in Spain) was a member of the once famous Clarion Cycling Club, which also hosted Clarion Vocal Unions, as well as a range of other additional activities. The CCC was formed after six young men met at the Labour Church in Constitution Hill, Birmingham in February 1894. Here they discussed how they might combine the pleasures of cycling with the propaganda of Socialism. They formed the Socialists’ Cycling Club, a name which at the second meeting was changed to the Clarion Cycling Club, after their favourite weekly paper. The Clarion tag came from Robert Blatchford’s socialist paper.
The Clarion cycling club that gave its name to today’s Clarion Singers, founded by Bradsworth
The Midlands CCC opened its first clubhouse in 1915 at Lyndon End, Yardley, Birmingham, with a dinner to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the founding of the first club. It is not clear at the point of writing that Bradsworth was a local man, or was even involved in this particular venture. But one Colin Charles Bradsworth appears, according to the service record of King Edward’s school in Birmingham listing the record of old boys, to have served in the military during the First World War; if so, it is likely that this marked him our for life as an advocate of peace. CCC moved its clubhouse to Wagon Lane, Sheldon, Birmingham in 1920, which was large enough to house dances, as well as containing sleeping accommodation, but it closed sometime in the early 1930s.
The decline of the Clarion movement after 1914 may have been a result of the massive social changes that arose in the post-war period but Blatchford’s support for British militarism must also have played a large part. The Communist-inspired British Workers Sports Federation rather overshadowed the Clarion movement, which began to fade in the 1930s. Although, as mostly apolitical racing cycling clubs, some are still around today. The Vocal Unions also remained popular into the 1930s but almost all of them collapsed, especially after the Clarion itself ceased publication finally in 1934. But Bradworth, a Communist Party member from the early days, would indirectly resurrect the name Clarion so that it still resonates in Birmingham by a circuitous route.
Bradsworth served for two years on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War. (see pic above right) As “Doc” Bradsworth, he was part of the medical team for the Canadian section of the International Brigades, the MacKenzie-Papineau battalion, during the Spanish Civil War. On his return to Britain, he was the founder of a Birmingham branch of the Socialist Medical Association, which was one of the most active in the country.
Then, late in 1939, Bradsworth announced that he wanted to start a workers� choir at a Daily Worker social dance at Bristol Street Schools. A large number of Communist Party members took him up on the offer and, in time the choir was named Clarion, in honour of Bradworth and his earlier associations; the rest is, as they say, history! (See Elsie Marshall entry for more on Clarion.)
Sources: Dennis Pye Fellowship is Life – the national Clarion Cycling Club 1895-1995; also Clarion Singers: http://www.clarionsingers.org.uk/home.html