Rex Coley & Peter Knottley – their Cape Wrath Fellowship and New Forest Cycling Week legacies

‘Cycling’ magazine columnists.

Rex Coley aka ‘Ragged Staff’ and Peter Knottley were at one time regular columnist in the Cycling magazine.   Rex had a wealth of humorous anecdotes to tell. Peter for his part had a vast knowledge of cycletouring in the UK and abroad . Through their articles and books, many benefited from their vast experience of cycle touring in this country and abroad.

Rex Coley aka Ragged Staff

As a one time editor of the former magazine The Bicycle, the late Rex Coley has the honour being including in the roll call of Cycling icons on the Pedal Club website.

Cape Wrath Fellowship.

As a regular columnist for Cycling magazine Rex’s zany stories of cycling a’wheel were popular fortnightly treats for its readers.  In the late 1940s in response to many correspondents sharing their experiences tackling Cape Wrath, Rex set up the Fellowship.  This awarded a certificate to anyone who could provide evidence of having successfully completed a cycle ride to this exposed tip of the Scottish coastline

Upon Rex’s sad demise in 1985 Peter took responsibility for issuing the certificates until his retirement ten years later,.  The certificates are now issued by CyclingUK.

New Forest Cycling Week.

It was whilst cycling in the New Forest in the 1970s that Peter Knottley chanced upon a senior administrator of the forest that led to the setting up of the first cycling week based on the Roundhill site  Not the best for lightweight camping. it was once used by the WW2 military.   Remnants of concrete are still to be found under the turf surfacing, frustrating many a tent peg no doubt..   The annual event has now moved to another site,details of which can be seen on the CyclingUK website

Peter Knottley

A keen advocate of adequate storage space for cycles on trains, Peter later became an advocate of Moulton folding bicycles for ease of storage and developed a keen interest in railways.  An excellent obituary is to be found on the Locomotive and Carriage Institution website.

Similarly Rex Coley’s simple formula for the  CAPE WRATH FELLOWSHIP has remained a ‘must do’ for many cyclists who seek out the wild places.    Share some of the spirit of adventure in this short film of Cape Wrath.

The writer and his family were among those that attended the first New Forest Week, and have not been surprised by its enduring popularity.

And around 1960 Rex, a popular guest speaker around the UK cycling club circuit, gave a most entertaining talk to the Liverpool CTC  DA.  He assured the audience that contrary to the belief of some no doubt, all his adventures were based on real events and not unduly leavened with a slavering of poets license.  Of his book ‘Cycling Is Such Fun’ this arose from a talk he gave to school children when he told them he had yet to decide on the title of his latest book.  A little girl sprang to her feet to say that cycling really was so much fun.  And so Coley decided it could not have been better named..

The later years of Rex and Peter.

Sadly neither Rex nor Peter enjoyed good health in their later years.  Peter spent time in a nursing home and apparently to the end still expected to depart riding his bike. Rex for his part mentioned trouble with his prostate when he visited Liverpool and perhaps that played a part in his final years. This photo was generously provided by a relative who had little knowledge of Rex’s fame, and was unable to identify the lady in the picture on the sideboard.  Could this have been his wife Ann who featured much in his adventures?

Related:-      Rough Stuff Fellowship guide to Cape Wrath