This article was written by Porky Johnson for the Derby Mercury 50th anniversary publication.
In 1936 their existed in Derby a youth group known as the CO-OPERATIVE YOUTH GROUP, open to all young people between the age of 16-25 years. The group was run by the local co-op Society, and held meetings in the Merchant hall ( now part of a shop in East Street) on Friday evenings The group had political leanings towards a certain party. In addition to the political meetings there was a leisure side and one of the activities was a cycle ride on Sunday. The ìturn outî was a motley crowd of people, some ìsit up and begsî and dropped handle bars, single speeds, fixed wheels and three speeds.
After a number of weeks it was noted that wherever we went another Derby group always arrived at the same tea place. Obviously we had a ìmoleî in our midst who informed them at work on Saturday morning of our decision the previous night. Factories worked on Saturday until 12 noon in those days. On one such visit to Robin Hood Stride near Winster, we stopped this group and asked them who they were. We were informed they were the Derby Technical College Cycling Club. As we all went to the Technical College and so were members of the Students Union, we were eligible to belong to the Cycling Club. We took the decision sitting on Robin Hood Stride to form forces with them, and before long we were having turn-outs of 40 people.
So far it had been an all male club; women were not so interested. One day two secretaries from Mackís Furniture Stores on thee corner of Leopold Street and Osmaston Road decided to turn out. There was a lot of opposition from the fast lads but the secretary pointed out that they were members of the students union and were entitled to come with us. So Joan and Nora were accepted. They proved very enthusiastic members never missing a meeting. When news circulated that ladies were cycling with us, two more ladies 'Bessie and Ivy' decide to join. They were from the Co-op youth group and did not go to the technical college. They too turned out to be enthusiastic and not missing a meeting. They were also very popular. After a while it came to the attention of the Principal of the Technical College that we had two lady members who were not members of the Students Union. He gave us an ultimatum, that we must eject these two members, or disband the club.
A meeting was called at the Arboretum Hotel on Osmaston Road and a unanimous decision was taken that the two members would not be ejected and that the club should be disbanded. Immediately afterwards, at the same meeting it was decided that we should form our own club to be known as the DERBY MERCURY RC. Len Holmes, a newspaper reporter with the Derbyshire Advertiser, was one of our members who was knowledgeable about crests and emblems. He was given the task of designing a badge and getting it duly registered in all the right places. He enlisted a young designer from Rolls-Royce, between them the 'God of Mercury' over a cycle was chosen.
The subscription for membership was to be two shillings and sixpence (12.5p) collectable by the Secretary at tuppence per week (1p). The average earnings of apprentices of 16 - 17 years in 1938 was £1 - £1.50 per week. Money was a little known commodity in those days, so the club was financed with enthusiasm and dedication, of which there was a glut.