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

Profile: Tom Fiddimore - (Nov/Dec 2004)

I was born November 1932 in Sutton in my home at Cavendish Cottage situated on the corner of Cavendish Road, off the Brighton Road. My parents introduced me to cycling at an early age when they bought for me what was a common choice in those days, a Triang Tricycle with a useful carrier box. Then I progressed to bigger two-wheelers.

In the 1940's the family moved to Thicket Crescent in Sutton. This is just up the road from the Broadway where Willingales cycle shop was conveniently positioned in Lind Road - quite close to where I live now. The Surrey Road Cycling Club used to meet there and I persuaded Dad to buy me a proper bike with dropped handlebars. It was a Norman which many may remember with its red finish with distinctive black and gold transfers representing the Norman invaders - the model was called 'The Invader'. Now, with this fine new bike I could tag along with the boys in the area on their Sunday rides. I later joined the Surrey Road Cycling Club in 1946 and have been happily associated with them since then.

I did lots of racing at most distances and we also used to do 'Blanket Tours' using a blanket folded in half and sewn up the side and bottom to sleep in as we didn't have such things as sleeping bags. We would set off on Friday nights and do about 30 or 40 miles and sleep in old barns or just in fields or woods. We couldn't do that today! We would usually do 150 to 200 miles in a weekend. Sometimes we would carry sprint wheels on special carriers fixed to the front spindle as we would be racing early on the Sunday morning.

In 1950 to 1955 I went into the RAF and continued to race at weekends if I could get time off. I also raced in Germany when posted there in 1953/4. I married in 1952, so lost a bit of keenness for cycling. I used to ride back and forwards to work however. My interest was rekindled when my son started to show interest in cycling. His main interest was in track racing so we spent a lot of time at Herne Hill Track, with him racing and me watching, thinking I could do that, so I did and that got me back into cycling. I raced and toured especially on Easter Weekends to the Isle of Wight. We would ride down on the Friday, go round the Island clockwise on Saturday and then anti-clockwise on Sunday with a ride home on the Monday which got everybody fit for the racing season. They were really good days.

Then, for a few years, I lost interest in cycling. I took up motor cycle racing and then car testing. It was all good fun. But I still had the bike on which I continued to ride to work. I worked at Mullards and Philips in the 1940's till the spell in the RAF and I returned to work there after demob. In the 1960's I made a career change and went into the GPO (or BT as it now is). I still had a bike and I still rode to my work. I stayed in BT until I retired in 1997 at which time I was still riding daily to work.

I thought I was too young to retire at age 60 so I got a job as a 'white van man' for three or four years and finally ended up working with my dad in Roy Smith Garage in Wallington. I decided at that time that I didn't want to cycle, it was too much like hard work, I began to think I was too old for cycling any more. Although I was still continuing to work I was beginning to have problems with my walking. So I went to my doctor for a check-up and was referred to hospital for tests. They found the problem was blocked arteries in my legs. The cause was due to the smoking which I started, as many did, whilst in the RAF during 1951 to 1955 - they must have been well and truly blocked!

The consultant said, you must do some exercises such as fast walking etc. I said, "I came here because I couldn't walk, but I used to be a keen cyclist". "Well try that", said the consultant. I still had the old bike. It was originally a fine Hetchins but was now unfit for use so I acquired a second-hand machine, a Walkling. I needed a guide for this new cycling activity so I got advice from my Surrey Road Club friend of old - David Aylett - who recommended the Saturday Beginners CTC Section as a suitably easy and pleasant group.

The first ride out from Nonsuch Park was to Fanny's Farm. I got as far as Banstead cross roads. I couldn't go any further and had to freewheel all the way back down to Sutton. But in the following weeks I persevered, suffering every week on a ride which seemed to take forever. When I next saw the consultant about my leg problem he gave me the most wonderful news. "I am amazed by the improvement in blood circulation. What you are doing is much better than anything I can do for you surgically. So do lots more cycling. You are curing yourself."

So basically, that is what I am doing every time I join the Beginners ride on Saturday. I am very pleased with my progress. I now lead rides and maintain riding on Tuesdays of up to 30 or 40 miles. Recently I even managed to ride one of Norman Goody's superb French Tours so I am quite proud and hope to do even more as I improve.

"In addition to the medical benefits which my joining the Beginners has provided, I have been very pleased with the good company and fun experiences which I have been able to enjoy. So well done the CTC. I have only been a member for four years but I have enjoyed every minute".

Postscript from David Aylett:
"Thank you Tom for helping to make the Saturday rides more enjoyable. Many newcomers have benefited from your help and guidance in bicycle and cycling matters. All your experience has been put to good use in your leading rides and expressing concern for beginners."
"For the record, Tom has attended 47 Saturday rides in the last twelve months, more than any other rider, volunteer or organiser."

 

Tom Fiddimore died November 2004, mere days after the original publication of this article

Portrait of Tom Fiddimore - click to enlarge Tom Fiddimore in the snow 20 years ago - click to enlarge