South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Tom Fish

Profile: Tom Fish - (Sep/Oct 1999)

At 85 years, Tom Fish must be one of the liveliest cyclists of his age. He was born on St Patrick's Day, 17th March, 1914 in Chelsea. Five years later the young Tom was cycling in the streets off the Kings Road. Those were the days when children could cycle safely in the Kings Road without the threats of today's motor traffic.

It was the start of a lifetime of cycling activity stretching over 80 years. The first bicycle used by Tom was a small roadster handed down from a cousin. When he left school at Easter 1928, Tom sought to use his experience of the previous two years delivering greengrocery in Chelsea and Gloucester Road on a bike or trike.

He applied for a job as a Telegraph Cycle Boy but was disappointed when he was turned down - "half inch too small on the chest" explains Tom. So he sat for an exam for the Gas Light & Coke Co., failed, and started in Art Metalwork. As this was a time of recession when unemployment was common, Tom turned his hand to a variety of jobs. At the start of the war he was working on aircraft production, which led to further work at Hawkers until he retired aged 66 years in 1980.

Club cycling has always been an important part of Tom's life. He has been a member of the CTC since joining as a Junior in September 1929. Riding with a club started with the Southwark CC, then the Morgan CC from 1930 to 1940. In the war years the family joined the CTC rides of the Kingston Section, then the Sunday and Family Sections of the South West London DA.

Retirement made it possible to ride with the new Midweek Wayfarers Section and he continues to ride with the Wayfarers today.

The days of riding with the Family Section hold special memories for Tom. This was the period when the Fish family was growing up - his wife Lilly, daughter Ann and son Robin. "The Family Section was always a good crowd when we met together. There was an assortment of machines, tandems and sidecar, solos and tandems with back seats, junior back tandem and triplets with trailers etc. It was a time of great fun."

60 years ago, Tom was racing in time trials with the Morgan CC and then the Kingston Phoenix Road Club. In VTTA events he has gained Standard Awards for events of 25 miles to 24 hours. His record on CTC Veterans Rides is quite remarkable. Tom has given me a chart showing that from 1965 when he was 51 years of age, he has ridden on every one of the 12 Triennial rides of 100 miles in 12 hours, each in a different area of the country. He aims to ride the next two CTC Triennials. This will be a great achievement in the year 2004 when he will be 90 years of age.

Tom enjoys all CTC activities. He says, "Age don't mean a thing. Keep riding the events". This last week a number of us have enjoyed Tom's company at the CTC Birthday Rides. At one evening social event, Tom stood up with his usual courage in a crowded concert hall to deliver an impromptu speech. He thanked the star guest performer for her emotional rendering of 'Danny Boy'. The song had evoked for Tom strong memories of his wife's singing career. When Tom told the audience of these memories he received loud applause, which almost rivalled that for the star singer!

He was again applauded when, at the ceremony of the cutting of the Birthday Cake it was announced by President, Phil Liggett, that Tom Fish was close to being the oldest member present amongst the 1,250 attending.

Many Happy Returns Tom and keep on riding!

 

Tom Fish died in March 2011.