Billie Fleming Tribute Ride

Billie Fleming, who died in May 2014 aged 100, has a unique place in the history of cycling. In 1938, she cycled every day and set the women's world record for the greatest distance cycled in a single year.

Starting on 1st January 2015, women up and across the country attempted to ride the distance Billie Fleming cycled on that day in 1938, and so on, through every day of 2015 until 29,604 miles have been cycled over 365 days. Each day will be called a stage.

[taken from the 'Tribute to Billie' website]

In September Billie rode from Wellington (near Telford in Shropshire) to Chester, the next day riding to Liverpool.  So we looked after these two days in conjunction with Wellington CTC and Sara from Liverpool Breeze.  Here is our story.

We begin the story the day before our ride, as we had to get to our start point.  Amanda and I caught the 18:06 train from Chester to Wellington (change at Shrewsbury, not quite time to grab a coffee), and were met by Jane from Wellington CTC group, who directed us with clarity to The Telford Whitehouse Hotel.

On arrival, there was no acceptable or secure bike parking; but there was no problem with taking our bikes to our room, so we did!  Jane came and met us for a drink in the bar before our evening meal, and a relatively early night.

Day #271 (Tuesday 28th)  WELLINGTON to CHESTER:

This little town became part of Telford in the '60's, and it is hard to pinpoint the location of Mr H Sutch, Brookside Garage, Watling Street, Wellington (Salop), which is the place Billie visited.  
We guessed it was at the crossroads by The Cock Hotel, which was a good place to meet and ride from.  Stu and Catherine caught the morning train from Chester to join us, and Jane met us with her husband in tow (to meet again in Chester later)

Start up photo, early morning late Sept sunshine, and a busy but historical road

We set off to skirt the Northern edge of Telford, roads unfamiliar to Jane (our local guru!) and eventually left the suburbs, turning towards Lilleshall, picking up route 55 and a small climb over the village.

Duke of Sutherland Monument,
on Lilleshall Hill

We continued on route 55, across the main road and through Newport, then alongside Chetwynd Park, where we could glimpse the large lake over the brick wall.  

We paused at Cheswardine, although there was no cafe or even shop; we shared a few sweetie morsels to keep us going, and sat in the sunshine for a little break.

some autumn colours showing

We continued to Market Drayton, and stopped again in the Market Square, and the Buttercross.  There was a delightful deli, and we sampled some of the flavoured oils.


 The old town fire bell still hangs from the Buttercross to act in memorial to the fire that started in a local bakers shop in 1651 and almost destroyed the town

We paused as we left Market Drayton at this most splendid autumn tree, amazing colours, and the challenge was to take a photo without drawing attention to the public loos or purple buses!

We continued on route 55, through Norton Hales and crossing into Cheshire before arriving at the Shropshire Union Canal at the top of the Staircase Locks. I wanted to add this wonderful feature to the ride as I had not been here for a while and it is quite lovely.

We tried counting the locks as we cycled down the towpath, but couldn't agree, there are actually 15 locks down to the bottom, just past our lunch venue The Shroppie Fly.

I do love it when you can still sit outside for lunch even though it is nearly October!

We eventually left the pub, and continued up through Cheshire, stopping for afternoon cake at Bunbury, at one of our favourite cafes.  They were still filming for 'Home Fires' so we passed  the unusual sight of WW2 army trucks and an old bus.

We continued on, nearly home now, past the iconic Beeston Castle as the sun was lowering.

Passing Chester Town Hall,
journey's end

Harstons - as it is now

Billie visited a bike shop called Harstons (Chester) Ltd; which was at 31, Bridge Street, Chester.  This is now Patisserie Valerie, but it was shut when we arrived.

Day #272 (Wednesday 29th) CHESTER to LIVERPOOL:

Our second Billie tribute day saw me taking to wheels again, this time to join my friends from the Wednesday section, and be led around the Wirral.  We have no clue again of the route Billie may have taken; and how she crossed the Mersey.  So we opted for a mostly off road route following the Wirral Way and route 56.

I was running late and just arrived in time to muster a photo outside Eureka cafe, before we set off.  

We were blessed again with wonderful sunshine; and today I could just enjoy the company of some fab ladies, some Wirral Belles, and other friends old and new as we followed the old railway line (which Billie would not have done back in her day).

After pausing for coffee at Thurstaston, we were now following the coast across the top of the Wirral.  As we round the top, Liverpool comes into view, as we passed Meols Lighthouse and headed to New Brighton and lunch at the Pavilion.

I just had such a lovely day taking photos!

However, sadly I did not feel inclined to cross the water; although two of the gang did on the ferry.

Billie visited Bee Cycle & Motor Co Ltd, 17, Renshaw Street, Liverpool - but looking on Google streetview it is hard to identify where exactly it was; but nothing of note.

Featured in CTC online article January 2016


  1. I’ve done some digging on the Wellington part and found this -


    "SUTCH Harry, motor engnr, Brookside garage. Watling Street, (T.N. 156)
    & cycle agt. & dlr. 1 Dawley Road."

    That to me sounds like it is the building on the corner of Watling St and Dawley Road –

    Google street view as it is now,-2.505892,3a,75y,150.08h,89.3t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s3dwszJCm12OdAt1KvlwGyg!2e0

    Hope that helps!
    Cheers and happy cycling

    1. I realise this is an old post but thought I should mention that Harry Sutch was my great grandfather. He and his wife Gert lived in the building you identified on the corner and the shop was accessed on the 'cut' corner which faced a still working and used ancient brass and copper cash register right up to its closure in the late seventies (I was there). Brook side Garage was several doors back from the junction, same side of Watling St. He served petrol to Queen Mary there one time! Hope this is of interest. Colin

    2. Thanks! Great to have the personal touch and memories

  2. Thanks for sharing new stuff with me and also providing further information on the topics.