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George Edwards – The Scot who was BLRC British Champion in 1946

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George Edwards? The name might not mean much to you but along with Brian Smith, Robert Millar and David Miller he’s one of few Scotsmen who have won the British National Road Race Championship – in his case the BLRC version in 1946.

In that post-war period there were two governing bodies, the NCU (National Cyclists’ Union) and the BLRC (British League of Racing Cyclists), bitter rivals with the latter the flamboyant ‘new boys’ who wanted things to be like they were on the Continent whilst the NCU were much more conservative in their ideas.

We thought we should find out more about this man who played an important part in Scottish cycle sport history.

George passed away in 1992 at the age of 68 but Harry Tweed connected us with George’s son who shares the same Christian name and now lives in the Netherlands.

Here’s what George had to say to VeloVeritas, recently.

George Edwards
George Edwards. Photo©supplied

What took you to the Netherlands and how big is the sport there currently, George?

“Initially I came to work a three month contract and I am still here 20 years later. Cycling is obviously the national pastime of the Dutch. The cycle tracks are fantastic and cyclists have always right of way.

“Not being involved in the racing scene, I can’t really comment on that side of things. I began cycling on a race bike at 50 years old, three years ago and am now a member of a sportive club.

“Each weekend there are numerous sportives to choose from mostly 100km to 250km, costing on average four euros for club events to 20 euros for larger organised events.

“The most famous being the Amstel Gold sportive and Elfsteden tocht, the latter a cycle run of 235km around 11 cities in the province of Friesland. It’s limited to 15,000 people and receives twice as many applications. Start cards for both the events are put into a lottery.”

Checking the palmarès sites, in 1945 we see your dad won:

  • Scottish Road Race and Time Trial Champion 1945
  • The Trossachs Road Race
  • The Star Road Race
  • The Clees Road Race
  • The Glasgow-Edinburgh and back Road Race.

“Yes and also he rode the year’s fastest 25 mile TT in 1h 2m 25s and the fastest 50 mile TT in 2h 8m 47s.

“He considered his best performance that year was finishing seventh in the Brighton to Glasgow stage race (First Scotsman to reach Glasgow).”

George Edwards
George jnr.’s favourite bedtime story and without a doubt his father’s favourite race and one of Alex Hendry’s too. George and Alex Hendry demolishing the top English riders including Percy Stallard and Ernie Clements in their own playground – The Circuit of the Clees, Wolverhampton 1945. Photo©supplied

You have a nice anecdote about that Clees Race, I think?

“Being around 18 year old and serving an engineering apprenticeship I wasn’t so interested in cycling but loved building things. My friend owned a bike shop so I decided to build a bike.

“I thought dad would be really chuffed. On presenting my new project he became quite agitated before moaning, why did you buy an Ernie Clements frame? He then proceeded to tell me this story.

“Dad and Alex Hendry cycled down to Wolverhampton to complete in the Circuit of the Clees road race.

“They went into Percy Stallard’s bike shop and were teased by a number of local riders including Ernie Clements about wasting their time cycling all the way from Scotland as they never stood a chance.

“They never replied but on leaving the shop Dad turned to Alex Hendry and said; ‘it’s either me or you who’s going to be first across that line tomorrow.’

“They finished together with dad getting the win by half a wheel.

“In the 1946 Brighton to Glasgow program Alex said his best performance so far was being second to Dad in the Circuit of the Clees; their way of replying to the gents in Percy Stallard’s shop.”

George Edwards
George at the end of 1945 Victory race. Photo©supplied

And in 1946?

“In the Brighton To Glasgow six day stage race he was second to Alex Hendry On the Bradford – Newcastle Stage; winner on Edinburgh to Glasgow Stage and 12th overall.

“Scottish Road Race Champion, BLRC Championship, and in 1947 (I think? dates not on newspaper clipping) he was British 50 mile time trial champion.

[VeloVeritas isn’t sure on this one, the RTTC ‘50’ Champion that year was George Fleming but perhaps the NCU/BLRC had their own event, we’d welcome any information, ed.]

“And 1947 or 48 he was winner of the Cumbrae Road Race.”

Did he get a jersey for the BLRC win?

“Not that I know off, he did receive a sash with his name and BLRC Champion on it.”

George Edwards
George was in the cycling press a lot in the mid-40’s. Photo©supplied

What about palmarès pre 1945?

“He was the winner of the Scottish Novice Track Championship in 1940.

“He started cycling on the track when 16, I believe he was quite successful and rode for the Glasgow Nightingale club.

“However I think there were not so many big events during the war.

“He was also involved in secret TT events around the streets of Glasgow donning a balaclava and dressing in black so as not to be recognized by the local bobby.”

Tell us about his ride in Paris-London in 1947…

“There’s not much info on this race, apart from a photo with him and Ernie Clements leading a stage Paris to Sens.

“He made an impression as he has a mention in the book ‘Olympic Gangster: The Legend of José Beyaert.’
Dad was credited to assisting the eventual winner George Fleming and was fifth Brit to finish.

“What was interesting was the two stages in France were mass start, however the war between the BLRC an