Bill Higson was a well-liked and enthusiastic member of Reading Wheelers Cycling Club. The son of Wheelers chairman Stan Higson (who led the club through to 1974 when it amalgamated with the Bon Amis Cycling Club to become Reading Cycling Club), Bill was a good all-rounder with success on both road and track including wins in the Presidents ‘50’ (1960 & 61).
He always enjoyed the club cyclo-cross, called a ‘scramble’ in those days, and usually ended up in the pond at Burghfield Common, complete with bike, for a post-race ‘dip’.
Bill was tragically killed in a motorcycling accident in 1965. Since then the club’s annual cyclo-cross event has been held in his memory.
The original event is one of the oldest continuously-run cyclo-cross events in the south of England, having first been run in 1947.
Photo: Bill riding in the Reading Wheelers ‘Scramble’ in 1964 (photo by Graham Yates, originally published on Wessex Cyclo-Cross League website).
Bill Higson Memorial Cup
In 1965 Alan Jacob (a former Peace Race rider well-known ‘Independent’ rider in the 1960’s) was a guest at the Reading Wheelers club dinner and donated a trophy, which became the ‘Bill Higson Memorial Cup’ to be awarded to the winner of the club’s annual cyclo-cross.
Some fifty years after this generous donation, Alan Jacob provided the following update:
“I remember being invited to attend your club’s annual dinner…and learning that you had lost a valued member. It just happened that in the summer of 1960 I had won the Hull International Road Race, an event that had been promoted to showcase the selected British team for the Rome Olympics. They presented me with a trophy which, as I remember, had not been engraved. I think that I was supposed to arrange the engraving myself but as a young married man with a wife, one child, and a mortgage to support, there was not much spare cash available! It just seemed at that time, to be a much better idea to give that trophy to your club where it could be used to commemorate a valued club member.”
The cup is awarded annually to the winner of the men’s senior race. The first winner being Dave Wren in 1966. Former national cyclo-cross champion Keith Mernickle amassed ten victories between 1967 & 1979.
Bill Higson Women’s Cup
In 2017 a women’s cup was awarded for the first time. The first recipient was Helen Pattinson who was crowned UCI Masters Cyclo-Cross World Champion later that year.
The Event Today
The Bill Higson Memorial Cyclo-Cross is currently promoted by Reading Cycling Club as part of the Wessex Cyclo-Cross League. Since 2008 the event has taken place in Prospect Park, Reading. The course is one of the most popular and challenging in the league combining technical wooded sections, fast grassy straights and punchy climbs.
Previous venues include Burghfield Common, Wokefield Common and Newbury Showground.
The increasing popularity of cyclo-cross means over 400 entries are received. Races are currently held for Under-10’s, Under-12’s, Youths, Women, Veterans (40+), Veterans (50+) and Senior men.
|2019||Adrian Lansley||Lindy Brazier-Larkin||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2018||Callum Macleod||Katie Scott||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2017||Adrian Lansley||Helen Pattinson||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2016||Michael Cotty||Helen Pattinson||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2015||Adrian Lansley||Emily Wadsworth||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2014||Adrian Lansley||Tamina Oliver||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2013||Chris Minter||Tamina Oliver||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2012||Andy Hargroves||Tamina Oliver||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2011||Crispin Doyle||Tamina Oliver||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2010||Stuart Bowers||Hannah Bowers||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2009||Adrian Lansley||Claire Smith||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2008||Chris Ansell||Claire Smith||Prospect Park, Reading|
|2007||Tim Dunford||Claire Hall||Newbury Showground|
|2006||Phil Smith||Claire Hall||Newbury Showground|
|2005||Darren Atkins||Victoria Wilkinson||Newbury Showground|
|2004||Adrian Lansley||Catherine Pascoe||Newbury Showground|
|2003||Tim Dunford||Kate Bowers||Wokefield Common|
|2002||Stuart Bowers||Deana Dibnah||Wokefield Common|
|2001||Paul Lloyd||Liz Tier||Wokefield Common|
|2000||Paul Lloyd||Loretta Kirwan||TBC|
|1999||Mick Bell||Elaine Stockings||TBC|
|1995||Andrew Taylor||Wendy Cushing||Burghfield Common|
|1977||Ian Jewell||–||Burghfield Common|
|1976||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1975||Carlo Lafranchi (SUI)||–||Burghfield Common|
|1974||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1973||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1972||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1971||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1970||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1969||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1968||John Atkins||–||Burghfield Common|
|1967||Keith Mernickle||–||Burghfield Common|
|1966||Dave Wren||–||Burghfield Common
Crowley Park, Harpsden?