Percy Thornley Stallard was born at his father's bicycle
shop premises at 30 Broad Street in about 1910. He eventually took the
shop over from his father and ran it until his retirement in the1990s.
Percy began competitive cycling at the age of 17 and rapidly made a name
for himself. He was a member of the Wolverhampton 'Wheelers' Cycling
Club and selected for the World Road Racing Championship at Monthlery,
France in 1933. He finished in 12th position and was selected for the
following year's event at Leipzig, Germany, finishing in 6th place. In
1935 the championship was held at Namur in Belgium and Percy finished in
12th place in front of a vast number of spectators.
Percy Stallard in action.
|Percy trained his own team of Wolverhampton cyclists,
and in 1938, one of the team, Ray Jones, won the silver medal in the
Empire Games. The Wolverhampton club entered many races and Percy became
well known for his racing successes. In 1939 he won a 62 mile race in a
time of 3 hours, 2minutes, 59 seconds and came in first in the last
cycle race to held at Brooklands. He also represented England in the
World Road Racing Championship in 1937 and became team captain in 1939.
Unfortunately the event for that year was cancelled due to the beginning
of the war.
|Percy brought cycle road racing to Britain. In the
1940s it was illegal to race on public roads and Percy
organised a massed-start race from Llangollen to
Wolverhampton, on June 7th, 1942. The event went ahead
in spite of vicious opposition from the national
governing body, the National Cyclists Union (N.C.U.).
There were 28 keen competitors and 27 of them would
complete the course. A fast pace was set from the start
and at Shrewsbury A. Dobson of the Royal Navy lead the
field in a time of 1 hour 18 minutes, a full 17 minutes
ahead of the expected time. In 2nd place was J. Beeston
of Birmingham followed by R. Jones of Wolverhampton.
With 7 miles to go at Summerhouse Hill, Albert Price and
Cecil Anslow, both of Wolverhampton, led the field and
Corporal J. Jones of the Royal Air Force followed close
behind. An outstanding effort considering that he had
been delayed with a broken chain. 2,000 spectators
awaited the outcome at West Park and they saw an amazing
finish with Albert Price winning by just two lengths
ahead of Cecil Anslow. J. Jones came in third and J.
Kremers finished in fourth place. The race had been a
great success and the Express & Star Comforts Fund
benefited by the sum of £105. Percy Stallard should have
felt proud of his achievement but all of those involved
were suspended by the N.C.U. and the R.T.T.C.
|The enthusiasts were undaunted by the expulsions and
formed the Midland League of Racing Cyclists.
similar organisations were formed and in November 1942
they came together to form the British League of Racing
Cyclists (B.L.R.C.) with Percy Stallard as event
organiser. This led to a bitter 17 year long conflict
with the N.C.U., during which all of the cycle clubs in
the country were forced to declare allegiance to one
body or the other. Percy was soon expelled from the
league for criticising its standard of race
organisation, but soon returned. In 1951, he organised
the first London to Holyhead race, which was the longest
race in Europe at the time.
An advert for the Stallard
|His influence led to the setting up of the Milk Race
and the Tour of Britain. In 1955 the first British team
took part in the Tour de France.
In 1959 the B.L.R.C.
and the N.C.U. merged and Percy, who was disillusioned,
quit the sport. He even sacked Ralph Jones, who was his
assistant in the cycle shop, because Ralph was the
B.L.R.C. delegate at an international meeting in Spain.
Percy's campaigning eventually paid off, as government
legislation was introduced on March 1st 1960, which made
road racing legal and paved the way for such events as
the Tour of Britain.
machine on display at the National Cycle
Collection at Llandrindod Wells.
||Percy was divorced in the 1960s, and had three
children, Michael, Yvonne and Olwen. He returned to
cycle race organisation, running events for veterans. In
1985 Percy organised the first age-related race in the
country which took place at Albrighton on 28th April.
Throughout the years he continued to sell parts at the
shop and would build machines to order.
In his later
years his main hobby was hill walking. He made many
visits to Snowdonia and the Lake District, and visited
Australia and the Grand Canyon.
|Sadly Percy died on 11th August 2001, aged 92. The
bicycle shop was taken over by his late son Michael, in
Broad Lane, who also had a successful racing career.