There was a time, way back before the Second World War, that the cycling Ashdown family of New Romney, were fierce rivals with members of the Rye Wheelers at grass track events around the area.
This all changed in 1955 when brothers Jonna, Dave and Edward Ashdown, the nephews of the prewar trackmen, joined forces with the Rye & District Wheelers and took on the cream of Kent and Sussex track riders at race meetings around both counties.
They were joined later by another Ashdown cousin, Michael and further close family relations, Richard Wall and Paul Rabson
Michael became the top sprinter in the area, winning the Sussex Track Sprint Championship at his second attempt (He had been second the first time around). He went on to beat the National Grass Half Mile Grass Champion at Danson Park and was at one point even thought of as a possible Olympic prospect.
The picture below is the Rye Wheelers team that won the coveted “Gasson Shield” at the Rye Meeting in 1966.
In the picture, from left to right, are Jonna Ashdown, Dave Ashdown, Jim Hollands, Rod Harrow, Richard Wall and Mike Ashdown.
Jonna, Jim, Rod and Michael, still ride with the Wheelers today and Richard is often out marshalling events.
Sadly Dave, who was the Captain of the Wheelers, passed on in 1994, but his spirit still remains with the club. The annual 10 Mile Club Championship has a perpetual shield in his memory and the event is one of the most keenly fought championships in the calendar.
Records and photographs of the prewar Ashowns and of local sports meetings are very hard to come by. If anyone out there has any photographs, memories, programmes or results of local sports meetings including cycle races “Hythe & Romney Life” would be very interested in seeing them.
From Hythe & Romney Life, October 2011
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