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Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith

The Sandman 29 Mar 07 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,padgett 29 Mar 07 - 08:39 AM
The Sandman 29 Mar 07 - 09:49 AM
The Sandman 29 Mar 07 - 10:03 AM
Gazza2 29 Mar 07 - 12:15 PM
selby 27 Apr 12 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,Dave G 27 Apr 12 - 10:54 AM
r.padgett 27 Apr 12 - 11:18 AM
r.padgett 27 Apr 12 - 11:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Apr 12 - 01:29 PM
r.padgett 28 Apr 12 - 03:02 AM
r.padgett 29 Apr 12 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,scorpio 29 Apr 12 - 05:12 PM
The Sandman 18 Jan 13 - 02:57 AM
r.padgett 18 Jan 13 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 18 Jan 13 - 04:03 PM
r.padgett 19 Jan 13 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Ced 2 19 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM
r.padgett 20 Jan 13 - 04:21 AM
ced2 20 Jan 13 - 04:39 AM
The Sandman 20 Jan 13 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,HughM 21 Jan 13 - 08:18 AM
r.padgett 21 Jan 13 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,HughM 21 Jan 13 - 05:19 PM
r.padgett 22 Jan 13 - 10:48 AM
The Sandman 27 Dec 19 - 01:11 PM
r.padgett 28 Dec 19 - 12:16 PM
GUEST 15 Jan 23 - 03:05 PM
FreddyHeadey 15 Jan 23 - 08:17 PM
GeoffLawes 18 Jan 23 - 06:34 PM
r.padgett 19 Jan 23 - 02:08 AM
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Subject: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 08:08 AM

Iam sure in the sixties or seventies there was a folk singer called WalterGreaves,the singing blacksmith,Ibelieve he only had one arm,and cycled to his gigs,does anyone have old efdss year books. im sure he used to advertise,in the performers section.was he the same walter smith that made cycling records.

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Subject: RE: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 08:39 AM

We've done this one recently Dick!!

You are quite right!!

Not sure whuch thread its on but he was from Dewsbury etc


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Subject: RE: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:49 AM

He died in 1987 from parkinsons disease.
around about 1979 /1980,i had a discussion with the organiser of Mildenhall folk club[Suffolk],and he said to me your not going to believe this Dick,but last week we had a guest called Walter Greaves,he cycled here to the gig,and further more hes only got one arm.,he calls himself the singing Blacksmith,talk about a tough guy.

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Subject: RE: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:03 AM

AND I think he said, he cycled home after the gig,.
which reminds me of Trevor Crozier,he once walked from Ipswich TO Bury st edmunds,to do a gig.

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Subject: RE: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: Gazza2
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:15 PM

I seem to remember seeing him at Leeds folk club in 1974/75. He had a fair number of supporters who saw him off with a chorus of "Walter Greaves, Superstar!" after he sang a song which went:"Please take me where, the sweet River Aire, Bubbles and sparkles through Leeds".

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: selby
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 04:22 AM

if its the same song Sweet River Aire was written by a guy called John Gunning and there is a cd of John Gunning songs.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,Dave G
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 10:54 AM

I think this is on the Yorkshire Folk club thread. Walter was a regular at Bingley Folk club, in the Ferrands Arms. The club was run by Jon Rennard and Jim Wishart, so not a bad line up before you even started talking guests. Walter sang the song Lloyd George which was picked up by Tony Capstick who recorded it on one of his albums.
Walter was a real character who sang fine songs, was a blacksmith and held national long distance cycling records. Not bad for a man with one arm.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 11:18 AM

Yea his axploits have been the subject of a Barnsley Memories article not long ago!! tis true


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 11:22 AM

I have just google him and there is a wikipedia entry for him as Walter Greaves cyclist with one arm born 1936!!


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 01:29 PM

Not to be confused with a friend Mike Harding's who was a ringer-out for a one armed window cleaner about the same time

L in C#

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:02 AM

They were both larger than life characters!

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 03:02 AM


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,scorpio
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 05:12 PM

I remember Walter doing a monologue about the building of the pyramids . I would love to have the words. God sent the plagues, but what really made the pyramid workers down tools was the blight on the Egyptian Guinness. I can only recall one gem: Now Moses was driving a dumper, at the site of Pharoah's new tomb. He said, "They should have cremated the bugger, it wouldn't half have saved 'em some room!"

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 02:57 AM

n his folk singing incarnation, Walter wrote a great song about the granting of the old age pension, entitled "What Lloyd George Gave Me"
The chorus goes: He took me out of t'workhouse,
                            And he gave me life that's free,
                            Five shilling a week for cheatin' death,
                            That's what Lloyd George gave me.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 04:37 AM

Dick have a look at

Recorded Richard from Beverley singing this!

Ray Hearne uses the tune for one of his songs

The first pensions were paid to men over 70 at 5shillings a week

The Act was 1908 (tell RH!) the first payments made Jan 1st 1909

in Barnsley 286 at 5 shills, 8 at 4shills, 7 at 3shills, 5 at 2 shills pensioners over 70 (dunt know why the others paid less than 5 shillings, ? anyone know?)

Wombwell had 85, Darfield 26, Ardsley 97, Hoyland 102 pensioners over 70


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 04:03 PM

Get your facts reight GSS, Actually the song about Lloyd George was written by F.W. Mooreman NOT Walter Greaves. I do remember Walter, a great character, met him many times back in the 70's and he even came to classes at Batley Art College while I was there. I don't recall that he wrote anything he performed himself?

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 11:16 AM

Yes Bruce is right Walter didn't as far as I know write anything!

He would have known Tom Daniel and indeed sang some of his songs too!


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,Ced 2
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM

Oh but you are wrong Ray, He did write somethings and I don't just mean anti-Vietnam War slogans on bridges. Ced

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 04:21 AM

Hi Ced, glad of your input!

What is there that Walter wrote and are there any surviving recordings?

Certainly during CND years Britain lived in fear of War with USSR and atomic bombs and any return to War

He could also have written (as did others) funny songs and political songs of the era


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: ced2
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 04:39 AM

Doubt if there are recordings, and can't recall biting political satires such as those that Alex Glasgow wrote.
Walter NEVER lived in fear of the USSR! Ced

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 08:15 AM

GUEST BRUCE BAILLIE, if you feel strongly that about it i recommend you got to wikepedia and correct it, in the meantime please adopt some civility, i know exactly who you are.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 21 Jan 13 - 08:18 AM

I remember in the late 70s and early 80s he lived at Craven Forge, between Kildwick and Skipton, on the A650 and with the Leeds-Liverpool canal at the back. At one point the council threatened to evict him because they said the place was untidy. A petition was raised in his defence. I can't remember what the outcome was. I think he tidied the place up or was helped to do it.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 21 Jan 13 - 11:35 AM

He was helped to move from his home by folkies to make way for the M62 I think!


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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 21 Jan 13 - 05:19 PM

No, Craven Forge was nowhere near the M62.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 22 Jan 13 - 10:48 AM

O right!


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Subject: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Dec 19 - 01:11 PM

are there any recordings of his singing? here is some info on his cycling endurance feats.
Walter Greaves
The one-armed cycling phenomena
By Stuart Collins

I visited Bradford Industrial Museum for the first time for a while in 2003 . Of four bikes there, a Baines Flying Gate had grabbed most of my adoration; a rather tired looking yellow machine rather less so. The info board about the latter said "Little is known about this bike .....". It further claimed that it was the bike on which Walter Greaves had broken the World endurance record. A little trawling unearthed (on Ebay) a poster showing Walter having passed the British Record using the Three Spires bike. I informed the museum and they amended their info. The whole thing got me somewhat hooked but there was very little on the internet.
The extent of my research was published on this site in 2004. Subsequently there was a growing amount of Walter coverage. Some of it was my stuff (no matter with that). Thankfully, some new material unearthed new perspectives of the enigmatic Walter Greaves. One of the most interesting discoveries was a posting by Andrew Eatch which helps fill in the life story of that faded and lonely yellow cycle in the museum. I appreciated the help of staff at Bradford Library on a recent visit. The library has been condemned and there is a great risk of the material I looked at being lost for ever.

Walter William Greaves was born in 1907 in the Bierley district of Bradford. At the age of 14 his arm got so damaged in an accident that it had to be amputated just below the elbow. The nature of the accident is shrouded in mystery. One version has it that he was leaping from his drunken father's car, regarding this as a safer bet than staying put. A more prosaic, and less likely, version was that it was caused by dangling his arm out of a train window. A further reason, vouchsafed by a work colleague was that he had lost his arm after an incident involving a door and his drunkard of a market-stallholder father.

It seems that he was either reluctant (understandably) to say what had happened or, out of perversity, would tell enquirers a different story.

Walter said of his childhood in an interview, "I was a chip off the old block, I suppose, though a small chip". He talked about his grandfathers, who must have been somewhat larger chips. One of them was a publican. He reportedly carried under each arm a 22 stone sack for a distance of a mile. 22 stone is over 300 lb. For those who went with metrication 40 years ago, that is 140Kg. For those who are fans of rugby that is two very big second row forwards. The other grandfather, a blacksmith, perfomed standing jumps over an anvil and block (about 3ft / 1 metre or so high). He did this whilst carrying another anvil of weight 28lb (13Kg). So Walter may have thought that his "short ride" was nothing special.

Perhaps because of his father's excesses, Walter became teetotal. From 20 years of age he was a vegetarian. He has been said to have an "anti-establishment gene". Reputedly he tried to get most people he met to enrol with the Communist Party. He was a fearsome debator. He may have created the mould out of which Margaret Thatcher and Brian Clough emerged - he was always right! These characteristics had an impact on his employability as an engineer. His ultra-socialist political leanings may not have helped and he was ever badgering folk to sign up people for the party and / or turn vegetarian. He was, quite obviously, very keen on cycling. He was a member of Bradford Cycling Club in 1932. It seems he tried quite a few other clubs but somehow they weren't for him, or he wasn't right for them.

He got into lecture mode quite readily. "Walter says ..." was not always music to the ears of his fellow cyclists and workers. There was talk of him being on a "black-list" amongst would-be employers and during 1935 he obtained little work. He determined to get himself some sponsorship to do a short ride during 1936.

He then lived with his mum in the Undercliffe area of Bradford. It is believed he was "courting" (what a nice expression), though his plans for 1936 wouldn't be ideal for further concerted wooing.

For 1936 he decided to attempt the World endurance record i.e. riding the most miles in a (calendar) year. This record might be regarded as the preserve of mad dogs and Englishmen. In fact it was held by neither, but by an Australian called Ossie Nicholson. The contrast between Ossie and Walter could not have been starker. The former was professional, had a manager and a back-up team with vehicle, several bikes and a masseur. Much of his record was done on a track and enjoyed in the fine climate of Australia. On the other hand Walter did many of his miles in the Pennines and in much worse weather than usual, even for that part of the country!

Walter had been promised a Coventry Cycles Three Spires machine by Ron Kitchen (indeed, the one). Bike firms were quite keen on the idea of supporting these challenges. The notion of an indestructable bike being ridden by an indestructable human was good advertising and represented a year's-worth of publicity.

His machine was not a lightweight and had mudguards, rather fat tyres, carrier, saddlebag (full of food), battery lights and spare batteries. Both brakes were activated by one lever. It can be seen later in this webpage. The handlebars were chopped off at the stem on the left side. The 3-speed TriVelox gear was operated by a customised twist-grip device. The TriVelox was a much patented, copied, disputed over English rear- gear changer. The "Tri" bit was Triumph, but they seemed to have lost interest. Walter used the unique model 1a. It looked a little like modern deraillers but it was the cog cluster which moved laterally rather than the chain being shifted. The cogs (1) were dragged sideways along splines (2) by a cable and using a thin chain similar to Sturmey Archer 3 speeds (3). The sprung loaded hanger (4) kept the chain in line and tension with double jockey-wheels. It didn't move sideways. The claimed advantage of moving the cogs served the twin tenets of pedantic design. First benefit was a constant, perfect chain line - to reduce chain wear. Secondly, the design allowed the wheel bearings to be equidistant from the centre-line and be wider apart - reducing axle stress and breakage. Unfortunately the design necessitated a hollow axle and this would have weakened it. It was all said to be "friction-free" allowing "all the rider's efforts to go into propulsion". Incredible!

If you were sceptical about the design then, in practice, the TriVelox 1A proved most unsatisfactory to purchasers. The cogs, at best, were reluctant to slide along. At worst, when "cacked up", they simply wouldn't move. The chain was reluctant to jump cogs. The manual suggests "overthrowing" the lever then returning it to the indexed position. Attempts at exercising more force (with curses) would cause damage to the cable, the little chain or a mechanism in the center of the hub (and cause even more curses). Movement the other way involved spring-power and a wing and a prayer. The ratios offered gave, in theory, a good choice and range. In practice the ratios had to be close (+/- 2 teeth) if you wanted effective changes. In 1936 the design was new. It emerged after 6 years of patenting conflict, litigation and broken promises. In an advert of 1948 it says "He (Walter Greaves) came to us when preparing for his great ride and a TriVelox was fitted to his machine". It didn't quite say that he wanted one or that he didn't even have a machine by then!! Amazing really that 12 years on they were still milking Walter's achievement and saying it would "never be beaten" when it long since had been. Also surprising was that TriVelox was still pushing the model 1a after producing models 2 and 3 which at least had a chance of working. The blurb suggests that the TriVelox "should change easily" but if not, it would probably be due to "derangement". Quite!

The gear cost 22% of the whole bike. The TriVelox literature boasted that Walter only wore out two chains and two sets of cogs. Regarding the latter he rode ratios of 79", 71" and 59" and later to 78" , 73" and 65, as he got fitter!!! (but gear-wise, in truth, not much different)

Some time into his ride a special adaptation was made for him It involved a complete handlebar and a bit to engage with a prosthetic stump (perhaps as shown [right]). This must have helped his balance, comfort and posture but it wouldn't have enabled pulling-up whilst climbing. He carried a log-book which he got signed at departure and destination points. He got quite a few mayors to sign but it is not likely many publicans were asked. Cycling magazine served as a validation body, to ensure that his record claim would be accepted by all, and by the Guinness Book of Records people in particular.

Where he slept involved "pot luck", as he would have put it. That detail wasn't very important to him. Mr T.P.Fox, a famous walker, made many of the arrangements and this allowed Walter to do what he could do best. Ride his bike! The nice Mr Fox acted as his honorary manager throughout the ride. Increasing interest generated by Cycling magazine ensured offers were forthcoming, both for interviews and bednights. The Vegetarian Society was a very firm supporter, in every way. Whilst in Brighton he stayed at the Benares Food Reform Hotel. 14 days with a roof over his head, a readily obtained diet and some good South Downs riding did much for his mileage and morale.

His training regime was thorough, he says. He did many consecutive days of 50+ miles and some night riding. He targeted on maintaining 15mph in most conditions - reducing to 10mph in hilly terrain.

The other consideration was his diet. Not only was he vegetarian but he was a fussy one. He was asked what he ate so many times that his answers varied quite a bit. His daily comsumption was roughly as follows

    1½ lb of Brown / wholemeal bread
    ¾ lb of Butter
    1½ ib of tomatoes
    Several apples
    Up to 8 pints of (preferably warm) milk
    Additional drinks when available :- Ginger Beer, orange juice

He admitted that getting hold of the above was quite often a problem. He also stated, a little illogically, that such a diet was unsuitable for most people, but didn't say why. He was to carry quite a bit of food with him, plus emergency rations. In general he said that if he could get apples he would be reasonably contented.
The photo [right] shows Walter getting some stocks and goodwill on his famous ride. It only looks like two apples - not a good haul. Surely a "Picture taken with Walter Greaves" was worth more than that!

The Three Spires bike (shown above) wasn't delivered for the start of the year. It was a general view that Walter, though often commudgeonly, did not resort to foul language. However, one cannot imagine that Walter was sanguine about this delay. Nothing has been recorded about his demeanour - it is perhaps just as well. On the afternoon of the 5th of January the machine appeared.
The start - From Bradford Town hall - 6th Jan - 0 miles so far.
Before he pulled away from the Town Hall he was given a letter by the Mr Jonas Pearson, the Mayor of Bradford, addressed to the Mayor of York. I assume that this was a symbolic gesture and not an economy measure! Walter replied to an enquirer that he did have a "job" and this was a year's cycling holiday. He did indeed have a "job on".

From the start the weather was terrible, with much snow and ice. On Monday the 13th January he battled into an icy wind to register only 80 miles. He fell off repeatedly because of the hostile conditions. It must be born in mind that many roads had a loose surface and that tarmacadam was not in general use. Early on, he was tracked by the local Telegraph and Argus newspapers. He was jettisoned into road-side snow twice between Bradford and Leeds by bad drivers. In Leeds, he demonstrated to the following press his aptitude for calamity - and fell off once more. The incident involved his being unsighted by emissions from a steam-powered vehicle and coming to grief on the tram tracks. After 10 days of riding Walter was back in Bradford, having done his first 1000 miles. He had visited York, Beverley and the North Yorkshire Moors. It was gruelling work in such bad weather, and with few hours of daylight available. He had fallen off 19 times by the 24th January (some say in the first week). He had established a personal record of falling off 9 times in one day. He had covered 2223 miles by then so had improved remarkably upon his daily average of miles. He was getting saddle sore - it was kind of Coventry Cycles to provide him with a wonderful brand-new Brooks saddle!.

After 2 months of arctic weather he had got his overall riding-day average up to 120 miles. He got frostbitten ears in Doncaster; a place not noted for souveniers, nor frozen ears. He had to get some medical attention.
Into March - Weather changing - 1st March - 6300 miles completed
The severe cold gave way to gales and rain. With longer days and indomitable spirit he hoisted his schedule back towards its record breaking level (including compensating for his 5 inactive days). After doing journeys within the north he extended his range to Scotland, Brighton, Lincoln, Birmingham, London and many other places. What is clear was that he mostly planned routes he expected to enjoy. He proceeded with the spirit of a touring cyclist, rather than that of a record-breaker. He certainly didn't avoid hills, which he might have done. In any case any journey out of Bradford was uphill. Increasingly he seemed to be guided more by invitations, arranged for him by Mr Fox, and Cycling magazine readers. He was continually worried about the finances of his ride. It was noted that "his clothing looked like rags".

During the late spring he claims to have clocked 275 miles one day and on another occasion did 375 between sleeps. Even though the weather was still poor he must have felt that the worst was behind him. Upon enquiries as to how he felt his stock reply was "A1". This may have made people wonder if he had heard their question and thought it was an enquiry as to which road he would be going on next. It is said that whenever he was spotted by someone he would smile and nod, and probably would have liked to have waved. His affability surprised some. He certainly seemed to be into the spirit and didn't give the impression that record attempt was a burden. Very slowly he became news and some new sponsors signed up. (I'm not too sure that many would use Ellimans rub if they had to do what Walter had before they could use it). There were earlier reports of him looking very scruffy and dishevilled but improved support must have involved some new garments. He certainly looks rather smart in the [photo right, above] sporting his Vegetarian Society badge.
Into "Summer" - 1st June - Wet most days - c19000 miles completed
In Mid June he surpassed 21300 miles whilst in London. That meant he was nearly half way and still some days of June to rack up more miles. He did several laps of the Herne Hill Velodrome. I wonder if he met any Olympic-bound cyclists at that time? It does seem likely.

Much of the summer was merely "mostly wet". He came second best to a car on about July 2nd in Yarm, extreme North Yorkshire (Now Teeside). A lorry and a lamppost are also mentioned as collision objects. I assume he really knew which.
He rode on but a few days later was hospitalised for 2 weeks as a result of his injuries getting ulcerated. It is likely that his wounds weren't suitably treated and covered. The mileage chart I have produced shows a marked reduction during the 5 days before his unwanted residence in Bradford Infirmary.

Back on the road after hospital stay - c19000 miles completed
As soon as he was released he was dedicated to doing 160 mile days to get back onto his target. Dare I speculate that the weather wasn't quite as bad as at other times? After 5 weeks of the 160 regime he had nearly clawed his way back to World Record target. He had exceeded 30000 miles on September 1st.

On October 8th he surpassed the British Record. This occurred about 8 miles north of Newark at Dunham-on-Trent. He was met by some local cycling enthusiasts and they happily, and proudly, accompanied him to Lincoln. He had press waiting for him there, and the rare luxury of a four star hotel bed. He had done 36024 miles at this point and was on schedule to break the World Record. He was presented with a "horseshoe of flowers". I can imagine him having a photo taken with these but not him continuing his journey bedecked with "flora" made of cast iron.

Ron Kitchen arranged for Walter to be on display, literally, at the British Bike Show in Olympia from 10th to 15th of November [see poster left]. I wonder how he faired? Given his nature, and having done 130-odd miles to get there that day, I don't think he would have revelled in all the fawning and formality. I expect he felt like a dancing bear (about which, more, later). Patience, tactfulness, enjoying fuss - not Walter's scene. The open road and solitude of the following day would have been a relief.

Into Winter - Weather changing, but not better - Nearly 40000 on November 1st.
The November weather was characterised by being "mostly foggy" i.e. smog. No problem there then! But Walter was reported as saying that November was the worst month of all. He broke the world record on December 13th whilst again in London. He did a few celebratory laps of Hyde Park accompanied by hundreds of cyclists. He had by now captured the public's imagination. There was a great reception at the Grosvenor Hotel. On a stage he publicly rejected the offered Champagne, renouncing it as poison. Instead he ate a grapefruit he had been carrying. Next day he did a triumphant lap of honour round the Herne Hill track. His record was further bolstered by nearly 2400 miles, right up to his arrival at the door of Bradford Town Hall on the 31st of December. He had completed 45383.7 miles!! The rounded-down figure of 45383 was the new target. He passed to the Mayor a letter from his York counterpart - replying to his letter of a year ago. The Mayor had changed and was now Mr George Carter. That's what happens when you take so long to deliver it! I trust the Mayor of Bradford understood the reason for the delay. There was a huge and enthusiastic crowd there to meet him. A small female had to wait to get to see Walter as he was swamped by well-wishers. The newspapers abounded with rumours of Walter getting married. After being otherwise engaged for 1936 he probably couldn't come up with any more excuses. On her part she does seem to have been patient enough.

Walter remained amazingly affable right to the end of his ride. He smiled at everyone and was unerringly modest, as if to suggest "anyone could do this". His ride had been extremely heroic, an epic demonstration of overcoming every kind of adversity. Only earthquakes and pestulance were held in reserve!

The stats are as follows. Average speed 124 miles a day, but 130 to 160 when he actually rode from dawn to dusk. His normal speed was about 15mph, slowing to 10 mph on hilly terrain. It is likely that some verbal claims of progress were exaggerated slightly to generate hope and optimism amongst supporters and sponsors. He featured in quite a few adverts and got mentioned in the nationals. He was given £4 a week by Coventry Cycles, the Three Spears maker, but he claimed it only covered his costs. He had a few other sponsors who were only going to reward him when had actually finished. One of these is shown (right). I have to say I wouldn't use this rub if I had to do all those miles to earn it. He was promised a job with Coventry Cycles. I'm not certain of the reasons this offer wasn't taken up but I imagine the patient Irene had comething to say in the matter. He was a Bradford man through and through and with some more courtship to do, he needed to make up for lost time. Of course, he was greatly advantaged by it being a leap year! The following was given as the statistical summary of the year - it might differ from other stats elsewhere.
His longest day was 275 miles (or 224 or 274). He did 375 (or 274) miles between sleeps on one occasion. “Un-shippings” - 19 in five days. His day record was 8 in the North York Moors. Thereafter, he probably lost count. Rode on 358 days out of the year.

His efforts earned him an inclusion in the Cycling magazines' Golden Book of Cycling.

Within hours of 1937 three other cyclists were accumulating miles towards their record attempts.

[ Click on cover above to read the Walter Greaves entry (opens in a new window) ]

What happened next in the rarified world of Endurance Cycling?
The 1937 weather was much better. Englishman Bernard Bennett, went on to do 45801 miles and thus take the British Record. The margin was a mere 418 miles more. But record it was. Walter was with Bernard on part of his ride and publicly pledged to beat 60000 miles in 1938. He never did attempt it. In the event Ollie Nicholson pushed the World Record to over 62000 miles. This narrowly surpassed the 61000+ miles of 46 year old Frenchman, René Menzies. René had been the Chauffeur to President De Gaulle and had Scottish ancestry. He had done much riding in the UK but also ventured over the channel, in search of better weather. Walter also accompanied him for one day. Clearly there was great bonhommie between some of the riders, as if the foes were the distance, sacrifice and courage rather than putting one over another rider. Little of this fondness was extended towards Nicholson. He was deemed to be clinical, uncommunicative, professional and was a fair-weather cyclist. And, well, he was Australian! And Australia is a long way to go. It might even have been thought that Ossie was avenging the deeds of Harold Larwood, a few years earlier!

Tommy Godwin of Stoke pushed the record up beyond 75000 miles. He was managed, sponsored and cosetted. Ken Webb of Sussex claimed over 80000 miles in 1972. Guinness initially accepted this but there were protests. Godwin's team suggested there had been bad record-keeping, with some claiming the distance had been fiddled. Ken's supporters accused the Godwin effort of being over-organised, were bad losers and were unwilling to cede the record. Guinness renegued and the Webb record was erased by the next edition. It is a pity that such extra-ordinary and heroic "Boys Own" pursuits should end in such acrimony. René Menzies was to make another 12 month ride in 1952. He was determined to beat Nicholson's best. Aussie Ossie's deeds had plainly got under his skin! He wanted to ride the Tour de France course of that year but was discouraged from doing so. It was only at just after 10am on the last day that he proudly exceded Nicholson's 1937 record-breaking ride. He then did another 128 miles! He claimed it was all to celebrate his 63rd birthday. It didn't get him an official record but was still a monumental effort and a "vets-best". It was to be the last successful, ratified year-long ride. Sadly he was killed on his bike 19 years later, going round Hyde Park Corner.

It is still a little surprizing that Godwin's record still stands but who, really, would want to sacrifice a whole year of their life in such a way? The picture [right] shows Tommy Godwin on his record bid - getting Greaves-like weather.
(There will be a piece on Tommy Godwin on this website)
The table below has been titled "Record Holders". Bennett and Menzies would never have held the 1937 record, since Nicholson registered more miles than them in 31st December 1937, the day of judgement. However they beat the existing record and deserve a mention in my table. I do think it was important that they get a mention. There's noone left to protest! In my pedantry I'm calling the table "Record Beaters".
The World Endurance Record Beaters table
Year         Record Beater         Nationality         Distance (miles)         Distance (kms)
1911         Marcel Planes         France         34,666 miles         55,790 km
1932         Arthur Humbles         Great Britain         36,007 miles         57,948 km
1933         Ossie Nicholson         Australia         43,966 miles         70,756 km
1936         Walter Greaves         Great Britain         45,383 miles         73,037 km
1937         Bernard Bennett         England         45,801 miles         73,710 km
1937         René Menzies         France         61,561 miles         99,073 km
1937         Ossie Nicholson         Australia         62,657 miles         100,837 km
1939         Bernard Bennett         England         65,127 miles         104,812 km
1939         Tommy Godwin         England         75,065 miles         120,805 km
Stats of Walter Greaves's historic ride of 1936

I imagine that during 1936 Walter had a lot of thinking time. My report above tells of various interactions, meetings and events. But most of the time he would have been on his own, with his thoughts and plans for the future. He was, whatever else, a man of ideas and determination.

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Subject: RE: walter greaves singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 28 Dec 19 - 12:16 PM

I knew Walter Greaves and he sang mainly Tommy Daniels songs and one or two others like LLoyd George ~ his biography appeared in a Barnsley Historical mag highlights much of what you have stated ~he knew Swan Arcade also no idea why Barnsley he was Keighley really


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Subject: RE: walter greaves singing blacksmith
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 03:05 PM

I remember he did a gig at Milden hall, 1980? and the organiser told me, we had this old man last week, came from yorkshire-, when the gig was over, i said to him do you need somewhere to sleep, nay lad he said i have my bike
i will cycle back tonight, must have been 150 miles, furthermore HE ONLY HAD ONE ARM, not short on toughness and tenacity

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 08:17 PM

& a later thread

Good catch, Freddy. Threads combined. Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 18 Jan 23 - 06:34 PM This link is to the Yorkshire Garland Site where the late,lamented Richard Wastling sings "LLoyd George", which The Sandman tells us was one of the songs Walter Greaves sang. The song provenance given on the Yorkshire Garland Site says that it was from the singing of Walter Greaves.

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Subject: RE: Walter Greaves, singing blacksmith
From: r.padgett
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 02:08 AM

The suggestion is that Walter Greaves put the tune to Moorman's poem and was popularised by Walter Greaves and Tony Capstick


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