The Gentle Art of Cycling: Kuklos and the Bradford Jackdaw

In the week of the Tour de Yorkshire, meet Kuklos, a Bradford writer who encouraged cyclists to enjoy our beautiful Yorkshire Dales.  We discovered his story this week when cataloguing The Bradford Jackdaw.

That Little Jackdaw

Edited and mostly written by Kuklos and Peter Eland, this little magazine was founded in 1904 and published weekly.

Local_BRA_JAC. The Bradford Jackdaw, 13 October 1904. Cover including mini portraits, woollen underwear, City of Bradford exhibition advertisements

The pair claimed to have dreamed up the idea on the “12.15 Sunday Down Dining train from Kings’s Cross” and took the magazine’s name from a line in the poem “The Jackdaw of Rheims”:

“In and out, through the motley rout
That little Jackdaw kept hopping about”

The Bradford Jackdaw aimed to offer “light local reading, to shoot local follies as they fly, to amuse, to interest, and to satirise”, but not to be cruel or vindictive.

The magazine did indeed hop about Bradford, poking gentle fun at local councillors, politicians, writers, the City of Bradford Exhibition, the weather, and pretentious or silly people.  It was illustrated with evocative cartoons and  advertisements for local businesses, and is a wonderful source for cricket, football, music hall, theatre, fashi0n, trams … and, above all, cycling.

The King’s Highway

Kuklos contributed a regular feature, “The King’s Highway”, about the joys of cycles, motor cycles, and motor cars. The feature offered practical help: choosing a machine, keeping it maintained and safe, finding suitable roads and coping with equine and other road-users.

Local_BRA-JAC. The Bradford Jackdaw. The  King's Highway, heading, vol.1., no.1

During the hot summer of 1904, Kuklos had many adventures on the roads of Yorkshire and the Lake District.  His motorcycle overheated one baking day by Windermere station; poorly maintained roads caused punctures and spills or turned to tracks when least expected; horses bolted and elderly ladies fell off their bicycles at the roar of his motor-car … In the winter Kuklos “retired to his cave” (the highways all being “buried deep” in snow), shared memories of summer, and looked forward to the next summer.

Fitzwater Wray and the Cycling Mania

So who was behind the Kuklos pen-name?  William Fitzwater Wray, who was born in Hitchin circa 1870.  His father being a Methodist minister, he was educated at clergy boarding schools, including Woodhouse Grove, near Bradford.  Wray (as the Jackdaw shows) was artistically talented and originally trained as a lithographer and engraver.  It was however his ability to share his growing enthusiasm for cycling that shaped his career.

Between 1894 and 1897 Britain went crazy for cycling.  New technologies (pneumatic tyres, safety bicycles) created safe, light, efficient machines.  Cycling offered personal mobility to all classes and new freedom especially to women.  Many Bradford people took up the pursuit and ventured into the stunning moor and dale scenery which surrounds the city.

Local BRA JAC Myers advertisement cycles Manningham Lane Bradford

The Bradford Observer saw an opportunity to sell newspapers and advertising to this exciting new market and commissioned young writer Wray to write a regular cycling column.   He knew his stuff: having bought his first bicycle in 1887, Wray had become a “keen and highly competent” cyclist, winning medals in time trials and risking long-distance rides.  Fittingly, he took the pen-name Kuklos: Greek for circle or wheel, which gives us “cycle” and thus bicycle, motor-cycle etc.

Flight of the Jackdaw and after

The Jackdaw only lasted a year.  As Eland put it, “This issue concludes the second volume of The Jackdaw and also its flight … our Mr Kuklos has secured a lucrative and promising position on the London Daily News wherein his lucubrations on the gentle art of cycling and motoring now fill up a column or two every Friday”.

It seems the magazine had run its course anyway.  The editors struggled to find enough advertisers to make it profitable. Describing the editorship as a “delightful but heavy task”, they clearly found it difficult to fill the magazine with high quality content every week.  We get the impression that Kuklos wished to spread his wings a little and that Eland was keen to return to the stage (he wrote plays and pantomimes).

William Fitzwater Wray (Kuklos) with his bicycle by a tree, taken from his Obituary in the CTC Gazette

William Fitzwater Wray (Kuklos) with his bicycle (from his obituary in the CTC Gazette)

Post-Jackdaw, Wray became a well-known and popular cycling journalist, remaining with the Daily News, which later merged with the Westminster Gazette to become the News Chronicle, until a dispute in 1935: “the paper refused to publish a column in which he suggested that motorists were as guilty as cyclists of ignoring rules of the road from time to time”.

While evidently respectful of other road-users, he was an advocate for cyclists via the Cyclists’ Touring Club.  Wray published several books, and travelled widely in Europe with his wife Klossie.  The photographs he took on these tours became popular lantern slide lectures during the 1920s and 30s.  After Wray’s death, on 16 December 1938 under anaesthetic for an operation, G. Herbert Stancer wrote that “Cyclists [have] lost one of their truest friends and perhaps their doughtiest champion”.

And what about Wray’s Jackdaw co-editor Peter Eland?  We don’t know much about him – yet.  We hope to research his story in the future.

Sources and credits

For the biographical material, we are grateful to cycling-books.com for making available the obituary, William Fitzwater Wray, by G. Herbert Stancer (The C.T.C. Gazette, January 1939, page 3) and an article, William Fitzwater Wray (Kuklos) – some biographical notes, by Tim Dawson.  Dawson cites several archival and reference sources which can be followed up by interested parties. The above quotations are from these documents or from pieces in the Jackdaw.

Enjoy Wray’s lantern slides thanks to Warwick University, who hold the National Cycle Archive.  Follow his routes across France, Andorra, Germany, Ireland and Scotland.

Many books and articles have been written about cycling in the 1890s and 1900s.  I recommend as a short and accessible introduction “Cycling in the 1890s”, by David Rubinstein, Victorian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1  (Autumn 1977), pp. 47-71.  Those with JSTOR access can find the article online here.

Thanks above all to Tony Yablon, amongst whose fantastic collection of Bradford books we discovered the Jackdaw!

Who put the B. in J.B.?

We’re often asked about J.B. Priestley’s middle initial, so we thought we’d share our knowledge.

B is for BOYNTON!

Priestley, JB Chapman of Rhymes tp cr 2

Young John Priestley, known as Jack to his friends and family, adopted the B and the Boynton in his teens, growing up in Bradford before the First World War.  J. Boynton Priestley, 5 Saltburn Place, Bradford, Yorks was “added hopefully” to his juvenilia: scribbling books of closely-written poems, stories and essays and neat typescripts typed up for him by kind girls.

PRI7_6_10juvenilia3So why did Jack decide to use this extra name?  Partly to distinguish himself from other John Priestleys (not an unusual name in his family or the region.  His grandfather was John, his father,  Jonathan).   The addition also gave him a more suitable, interesting, distinctive name for a writer.

So why did he choose “Boynton”?  We don’t actually know.  There is a village of that name in the East Riding of Yorkshire, near Bridlington.  Could Jack have seen the village on a family holiday to that popular seaside resort?  However he came by the name, B for Boynton served Jack Priestley rather well as a pen-name and he was to be J.B. Priestley for the rest of his literary career …

B1253_between_Bridlington_and_Boynton_-_Geograph_-_301466

The road to Boynton … (the B1253 between Bridlington and Boynton, by James Exon, licence CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sources and credits:

I am indebted to James Ogden for the suggestion that Jack found Boynton on a family holiday in Bridlington (“The name Boynton” p. 27-28, J.B. Priestley Society Newsletter, no. 24, Autumn 2011).

The road image is from the SABRE website, a vast compendium of images of Britain’s roads – the Roader’s Digest.

Priestley wrote about the juvenilia in the Swan Arcadian section of his memoir, Margin Released.  He gently mocked the literary pretensions of his teenage self, including the pompous pen-name, comparing J. Boynton to an “eighty years old retired clergyman” and sarcastically observing that “J. Boynton makes a bold frontal attack on his subject.”  Other than the hint of pretentiousness, he doesn’t actually explain the purpose or origin of the name.

The two reasons listed above come from an interview with Jacquetta Hawkes  cited in Vincent Brome’s biography of Priestley (Hamish Hamilton, 1988).  Jacquetta, J.B.’s third wife, would be likely to know and the reasons make perfect sense to me.

“Boynton” though awaits further explanation!

 

Brontes, Bollywood and JB: welcome to the Lit Fest!

Did you know Bradford has its own Literature Festival?  Over a hundred events celebrating the written and spoken word, from 15 to 24 May 2015, in a host of venues around the city.

The Festival has a distinctively Bradfordian flavour:

7015044601_a35090975d_z

Bradford Reflections, by Tim Green – licence CC BY 2.0

  • Venture into the Undercliffe necropolis – at twilight …
  • Rediscover famous Bradfordians Humbert Wolfe and William Rothenstein and the city’s forgotten Jewish heritage
  • Explore the incredible textiles of India and the riches of Urdu poetry
  • Find out how Bollywood films portray male (often shirtless) beauty and style

Not to mention colleagues from Peace Studies at the University sharing their fascinating research: Dr Munro Price on Napoleon‘s downfall and Professor Paul Rogers discussing the rise of ISIS.

For venues, prices, tickets etc and many more events, check out the full programme on the Festival website.

Bright Days and Cream Teas: the Joy of Waiting

The Joy of Waiting, a new album by Manchester musician and writer Sara Lowes, features songs inspired by J.B. Priestley, and in particular his interest in time.  The titles?  “Bright Day“, “The Chapman of Rhymes” and “J.B. Priestley”!

Sara Lowes Joy of Waiting

Sara’s music is difficult to categorise – you will have to hear her for yourself – but this description from Q Magazine will give you an inkling of her style:

“A voice somewhere between Alison Goldfrapp and Joni Mitchell, and songs that veer between folk, Brill Building pop and Dexys Midnight Runners-esque soul”.

J.B. Priestley Society members get a treat at the Society’s AGM on 11 April as Sara is to be our very special guest.   Not to mention a luxury afternoon tea.  Bliss!

Check out Sara’s website to hear her songs and find out more.

Robert Dell, Our Man in Geneva

Originally posted on The Eleventh Hour:

Here in Special Collections we are always telling students that the power of archives comes from the fact that they were generally not produced with any consideration for how they would be seen in the future. Rather, they were working records produced at a given moment in history for contemporary purposes. I came across a letter recently that reminded me of the truth of that.

NAF 3-3-1-20-18 Letter from Dell, SignatureRobert Dell wrote to Winifred Gordon Fraser in 1935 from Geneva discussing Nazi Germany and the difficulties facing German refugees. The letter is a prime example of how archival sources put us back in the shoes of those living through the historical events we study, and how they can put a human face on world affairs.

Dell was a journalist, then working as a Foreign Correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, but intriguingly his career had already included co-editing The Burlington Magazine and being an art…

View original 256 more words

Jacquetta updates!

Originally posted on Celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes:

Coming along to our fantastic free event exploring Jacquetta’s Mount Carmel experience on 18 March?  All welcome and there is still room!  Register and find out more here.

Yesterday Dr Christine Finn was interviewed on BBC Radio Jersey: she discussed Jacquetta’s Jersey archae0logy and some exciting news about her authorised biography – you can listen to the interview on the iplayer (up till 10 April).  Christine’s piece is about an hour into the broadcast.

View original

Happy International Women’s Day!

Originally posted on The Eleventh Hour:

We’re a day late, but by a lovely coincidence I stumbled across some files relating to feminism yesterday in the Mitrinović Archive and it seems too good an opportunity to miss! In the 1940s some of the women in Mitrinović’s circles set up their own sub-group, Anthropo-Femina of the New Atlantis. They met for discussions and organised public lectures with a variety of invited speakers. They also seem to have joined in the celebrations for International Women’s Day, if the presence of this pamphlet in their files is anything to go by.

NAF 3-2-2-6-3 International Women's Day programme, 1946

I hadn’t realised that International Women’s Day had such a long history, nor that Mitrinović’s associates Winifred Gordon Fraser, Violet MacDermot, Louise Hughes and others not only considered themselves to be feminists in the 1940s, but established a group to study subjects and issues that they thought were of particular interest to women. I’m still cataloguing these…

View original 67 more words