Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who was Doreen Middleton

Doreen Middleton and Navy Cycles

I look at so many women cycling on Beach Road and think of it as a modern phenomenon. When I started racing in 1963 (Gosh-50 years ago) I could not say I remember any women racing. I'm sure they were out there but we didn't take them seriously - it was a bloke's sport. I do remember racing in California in 79 and being in a Crit with Beth Heiden, sister to Eric Heiden. Both were speed skaters and later cyclists. Then there was Connie Carpenter but here in Australia, the movement of competitive female cyclists were still evolving in the 80s.

Back in the 30s there was one woman cyclist that gets a regular mention in my old and yellowing "Australian Cycling" magazines from that period.
"Er name's Doreen" (stolen from the Sentimental Bloke) Doreen Middleton. She was even a little bit controversial. The article below comes from an old Argus newspaper where her sponsor, Alby Sykes of Navy Cycles took exception to her not returning the machine that she used for a City to City record attempt. Compare that to today where our elite women cyclists are offered every opportunity to excel in their chosen sport.

Court Orders Return.
The record breaking bicycle ride from Melbourne to Adelaide and back by Miss Doreen Middleton, Nicholson street Essendon, in June was mentioned in the Fitzroy Court on Thursday when Albert Charles Sykes cycle manufacturer of Gertrude, Street, Fitzroy claimed from Doreen Middleton the return of a racing bicycle and two spare wheels valued at £19.10 which it was alleged had been detained or converted to their own use.  Albert Charles Middleton acted for the purposes of the court proceedings as guardian for his daughter, who being aged only 19 years is an infant in law.
Albert Charles Sykes said that in March, 1931 he met Doreen Middleton and lent her a cycle,  which she used until June when she said that she was about to attack the record to Adelaide in company with Dot Hodgson. Spare wheels a sweater, raincape and shoes were supplied but the attempt on the record failed. Later Doreen Middleton rode to Adelaide and back. He accompanied her in his motor car and records were broken on both journeys. The bicycle had not been returned.
To Mr W. D. Sykes (for Doreen Middleton) witness said that often bicycles were lent to    racing cyclists for advertisement. He had contributed to the expenses of the record rides which had cost him £50.
Mr. Sykes.—But you had a good holiday?  
Witness (sarcastically) — Wonderful I was  up every morning at 2 o'clock, and was working  hard driving until 8 o'clock at night.  
In answer to further questions Sykes admitted that his claim coincided with the fact that        Doreen Middleton had changed the make of bicycle she was riding.
Doreen Middleton said that on the day on which she returned from Adelaide Sykes, said that she "had well earned the machine." He also said that he was not able to give her anything  but the bicycle and subsequently he repeated that she had earned the machine." Later the bicycle was delivered to a friend who bought it to her home. On it was, printed Doreen's Record-breaking vest-pocket Model."  
Mrs. Mary Amelia Middleton, mother of Doreen Middleton, said that she heard Sykes give her daughter the bicycle and promise to have it  put into good repair.    

Mr. Clarke P.M. said that while he would not say that the witness for the defence had perjured themselves he thought that a mistake had been made about what Sykes had said regarding  the bicycle. He ordered that the bicycle, or its value, £19/10/, be returned to Sykes, and that Doreen Middleton pay £5/7/6/costs.

I remember as a young bloke in my mid teenage years at the Preston track, I met an older cyclist who looked good on the bike but maybe a little overweight on a fine track bike. I asked his name - he said he was Clive Middleton. I remembered his name from some of my earlier cycling magazines as a good Madison rider during the 60s. I wonder if he and Doreen were related. I bet they were!


Rhodesia said...

Interesting post and that looks quite a smart bicycle for the 30's. Have a good weekend. Diane

Leon and Sue Sims said...

We both had a great weekend Diane.
Is Nigel well, say hello from us.

Ken Trowell said...

Hi Leon, It's a long time since I heard that name! Back in 1950s at North Essendon. Board Track. I have just received the July 2013 Cycling Scrapbook you made, our son Gary sent it to us from Belgium, he is over there with Alan Peiper for the cycling classics that start the season. Well on to your scrapbook item - I am the daughter of Doreen Middleton, I married Ken Trowell who you may remember from those North Essendon Board Track days. Doreen was infact Clive Middleton's auntie, his father was one of her brothers. Clive also had a brother Gordon who also raced & a sister Barbara who married Ron Niewand also of the old Board track days,
We got quiet a surprise to see somebody put Mum's name up like that, as some 83years have gone bye since her record ride, which was one of many records she held during her racing time. Our son Gary was also a racer, which meant that some 4 generations had been involved with this great sport.
I hope you find the results of your blog interesting, Regards, Dawn Trowell