South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Arthur Butcher

Profile: Arthur Butcher - (Jan/Feb 2000)

Ron Beams writes of Arthur Butcher: Arthur was born on the 2nd February 1913 and started cycling at the age of 13. This was to be the start of a life-long interest and which led to two events of extraordinary benefit to his fellow cyclists.

We all like to think in our later years that we can put something back into the pastime which has given us so much pleasure, but few can have done so as effectively as Arthur.

Firstly, Arthur with Alf Whiteway was co-founder in 1934 of the Clarence Wheelers, destined to be an active racing club in the South London area. It is still active and is remembered for its most famous member, Tony Doyle. Secondly, I first met Arthur at a CTC Triennial Veterans' Ride when he was about to retire and I invited him to join our Monday Group - a few disorganised riders who have now met for 26 years and are still going strong.

Our meeting places proved rather far out for Arthur so he soon said "no hard feelings, I'm leaving as I want to start a CTC section for retired folk within the South West London DA." This he did on 5th March 1980 with a few fellow members. It became the Midweek Wayfarers Section, meeting every Wednesday and grew under Arthur's indefatigable leadership as Secretary. To date, approaching 100 members are listed and around 30 regularly ride on Wednesday. Of the 14 members aged over 80, a few are still riding and it is good to see an influx of recent retirees maintaining what is now the largest Section in the DA. Earlier, Arthur rode with the Cheam & Morden Section and has been a life member of the CTC for 40 years.

Arthur was never a racing man but a keen tourist travelling all over the British Isles and is proud of his 1020 miles ride on the End to End tourist route. His favourite bike was a Freddie Grubb.

Those who have known him well have been greeted with a story and he is a master of the 'shaggy dog' type narrative which is typical of his sense of humour and ever optimistic outlook.

Arthur was a Territorial and called up in August 1939 for early service all over the country until posted to ill-fated Singapore where he was a Japanese Prisoner of War from February 1942 to August 1945. His humour and resilience resulted in his being declared Al after rehabilitation and, asked why so, he replied "It was my mother's rice puddings."

Back to civvy street, and Arthur worked for Shell and commuted by bicycle for 25 years. In 1954 his first wife died and Arthur then brought up three boys single-handed and all developed successful careers. Sadly, Arthur's second wife died this year. Arthur retired as Secretary of the Midweek Wayfarers in 1990 and has been ably followed by Geoff Avis and Steve Bott. Arthur is now President, is no longer actively riding but held in great regard so he will be guest of honour at the 1999 Christmas Lunch when a Presentation will be made to him.

The writer counts Arthur as one of his best friends but cannot resist relating a story of a certain AGM at Headley: Arthur and I pleaded for more consideration for we slower members who sometimes got 'dropped'. Arthur stayed behind to settle the bill and emerged to find all had left and he didn't even know the lunch venue!