History of ABC Centreville

ABC Centreville was founded in the early 80’s by Gordon Perry, Bernard Waugh, Kevin Shackleton OBE, and Peter Deary as a breakaway club from Middleton CC. ‘Centreville’ is an approximation of Middleton in French. Along with Chris Hughes who was Secretary for the first 6 years of the club,  they became its first committee. Barry Jones (see link below) followed Chris as Secretary. Gordon and Margaret Perry organized the Birch Circuit TT (see article below) and Road race, while Bernard Waugh organized the Rochdale Town Centre Criterium, and Kevin Shackleton organized the Queens Park cyclocross in Heywood. Weekly Thursday social nights were held at Heywood Cricket Club, enabling members of all ages to attend.

By the time of its third AGM the club had grown to 200 members, with a thriving junior section. To help young riders the ’25 Club’ was started, whereby members would contribute 25p each at club nights, which could be used to help riders enter Star Trophy and national events. Nigel Bishop (GB international, rode in World Championship Road race and held Yellow Jersey in 1989 Milk Race), Neil Swithenbank (British Junior Champion and continental pro rider), Ian Perry, Steve Whittington, Steve Calland, and Jason Shackleton were some of the notable riders to benefit from this.

Women members have also achieved a lot. In 1982 Mandy Jones (now Bishop) won the women’s World Road Race Championship, later joining the club. She and her now husband Nigel Bishop are life members of Centreville. Mandy was national TT champion at 25 and 50 miles for Centreville. Janet Giveron broke the national mixed tandem record with ex Falcon Pro Ian Greenhaulgh, whileMargaret Perry put in a tremendous amount of organising and support work  for many years.

All clubs experience peaks and troughs, and in the ‘noughties’ the club gradually became smaller, with rides starting in Littleborough focusing on fast training. In 2014 with the launch of a new website and members forum, Centreville began again to broaden it’s appeal and look to grow, welcoming members new and old. In 2015 Louis Szymanski , then aged 23, achieved notable 1st 3 placings during the hill climb season and is working his way up in the road racing scene. In 2016 the group of riders usually riding from Littleborough, and those riding separately from Heywood are working together, and with the appointment of new officials after years of sterling service from Dave Grogan and Dave Lowe Centreville are entering an interesting new stage. Why not come and be part of it?

Can you add anything to this history? if so please use the contact form

In memory of Barry Jones, 1937-2014

A History Of Birch Time Trial

by John Burston

Birch time trial, (or Pilsworth if you prefer,) started around the formation of the ABC Centreville Club some time around 1985,although I have been told that it may have been running before this with other clubs organizing it, I am sure Gordon Perry will know the full details far better than I, as of course Gordon and Margaret were the ones who were running the show for years on the old circuit of 8 ¾ miles with the right hand turn just after the start (very dodgy that was,) the entry fee was 20p and if you were lucky you got a drink of orange included.

Later Rick Taylor, timed it for a while, and it was he who did me out of my only 21 min ride giving me 22 mins dead, when I made it 21 59, but Rick said he had to round the times up to the next figure, so hence 22 mins, something I have never forgotten, the sod !!!!After that came Mr Riley, and he did it for a season or two, then stopped after some kind of fall out over something or other, and with no one to run it ,and I was living about 2 miles from the course then, I took it on board, and after a couple of seasons on the old long course I decided that it was getting too dangerous with a right hand turn so I measured out another course ,minus that bit both ways ,and the result was a 8 mile course starting at the Gardeners arms pub, over two laps, and that was where it stayed for another 12 years.

The entry fee was by then 50p, and stayed that way, for years, making the club on average about £80 per year with no outlay whatsoever.It was still very popular, running through from the 2nd Tues in April until the 2nd Tues in September, with the Fastest times usually being ridden around the September period.

Riders from clubs all around Manchester and District and sometimes much further afield would turn up for a spin, and usually came back week after week.


Riders like World Champion Mandy Jones, British Vets Champion John Watchman, British Junior Champion Neil Swithenbank, and the odd Tour rider such as Jeremy,Hunt,making an appearance now and again. We have had Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Champions, track riders, ,cross riders ,mountain bikers ,and come and try it riders turn a wheel sometime all in the same evening.

Rick and Kath set the course record for tandems one year, but the evening that the senior solo record went was magic, with Neil Swithenbank turning up on a standard road bike with no tri bars etc, and as he passed the line for the end of the first lap I had to call another rider over to verify the time I was looking at it was 8 mins 45 secs,  unbelievable, and sure enough less than 9 mins later Neil crossed the line with a time of 17 mins 34 secs, it has never been approached since and was some fantastic ride.

There were many good rides done on that 8 mile circuit, but running the event for all those years, I never got to ride the 8 mile course in competition, as I could never find anyone to time it on the night with everyone wanting to ride.

In 2011, the CTT decided that we had to come under their wing for insurance purposes, this meant that also the course had to be signed, and the levy to CTT was £1 as the entry was still only 50p we decided that we would not make any money from the Birch event in that year to see how things went, charging just the £1 and passing all the money over to the CTT.

In 2012 the CTT put the fee up to £2, and numbers that had been dwindling over the past year or so went through the floor, and after 5 sessions , 3 of which no one attended, the day had finally come to sadly call it a day, and we stopped the event in May 2012, Memories are still there, and some photos, and I think that there are a lot of riders around the area who have fond memories of those Tuesday night sessions.