1878 - Agricultural Hall, Islington, London - 18 to 23 November

Press Cuttings from 19th Century Newspapers

Liverpool Mercury (England) Tuesday, 19-Nov-1878

“Yesterday morning a six days’ bicycle race for the long-distance championship of the world, and 150 in prizes, was commenced at the Agricultural Hall, London. The race, which is under the Wolverhapton rules, is promoted by Messrs. Fox and Etherington, of the Temple Bicycle Club. The Sporting Life, who are the prize-holders, also appoint the referees - Messrs. T. Griffith of Bell’s Life, and G. W. Atkinson of the Sporting Life. The starters were as follow:- J. Keen (champion of the world), London; D. Stanton (long distance champion), of Hornsey; W. Cann (champion of the north), of Sheffield; C. Terront, champion of France; A. Evans, of Hampshire; C. E. Edlin, of Leicester; H. Highham, of Nottingham; W. Phillips (champion of Wales), of Wolverhampton; T. Andrews, of Birmingham; F. White, of Wolverhampton; A. Markham, of Paddington; F. J. Lees, of Sheffield. The riding is restricted to 18 hours a day - viz., from six a.m. to twelve p.m. - and the winner, providing he covers 1000 miles during the week, receives 100; the second prize is 25, the third 15, and the fourth 10. The course is on boards, seven and a half laps to the mile. The distances at eight o’clock last evening were - Cann 182 miles, Stanton 173. Edlin 170, White 164, Higham 156, Andrews 152, Lees 146, Evans 144, Keen 136 and Markham and Terront 124. Markham retired owing to an accident.”

Seven and half laps to the mile equates to 234.7 yards or 214.6 metres but the track was probably not measured to that degree of accuracy.
As a rough guide, the devaluation of the UK Pound has changed the 100 prize of 1878 into a prize worth somewhere between 7,500 and 10,500 in 2010 terms - using inflation and GDP changes.

Freeman’s Journal (Dublin, Ireland) Tuesday, 19-Nov-1878


Liverpool Mercury (England) Saturday, 23-Nov-1878

“At eight o’clock last evening the position of the competitors was - Cann, 928 miles; Edlin 896; Lees, 816; Andrews, 790; Terront, 720; Higham, 616; Evans, 572; White (Wolverhampton), 460; and Stanton, 400.”

Leicester Chronicle (England) Saturday, 23-Nov-1878

A six days’ contest (open to the world) was commenced at the Agricultural Hall, on Monday morning, for prizes amounting to 150, apportioned as follows:- The winner (provided he rides 1,000 miles in the specified time i.e. six days of eighteen hours per day), is to receive 100, the second 25, third 15, fourth 10. The competitors are allowed to use any machine they like, and change at will. A track (seven and a half laps to the mile) had been marked out, the surface being of wood. Six o’clock was the hour appointed for the start, but at that time only Stanton, Cann, Phillips, and White were ready, and these were despatched on their journey punctually by Mr. Etherington. Lees, Markham, and Keen joined in almost directly afterwards, and were followed by Andrews, Edlin (of Leicester), White (?), Higham, and Evans at a short interval; but Terront, the French champion, did not put in an appearance until ten minutes past seven, Phillips, who was then leading, having placed 17 1/2 miles to his credit before the Frenchman made a start. Just previously Markham fell heavily and injured his arm, but remounted after a little rest. Phillips kept ploughing away at a fine pace, closely attended by Cann, Lees, Keen, and White, with Edlin, Markham, Evans, Higham, and Andrews forming the rear division. The first fifty miles was completed as follows:- W. Phillips, Wolverhampton, [at] 9h 24m 15s; W. Cann, Sheffield, 9h 24m 30s; D. Stanton, Hornsey, 9h 24m 45s; F. J. Lees, Sheffield, 9h 28m 20s; G. E. Edlin, Leicester, 9h 32m 15s; F. White, Wolverhampton, 9h 35m 48s; A. Markham, Marylebone, 9h 40m 57s; J. Keen, London, 9h 43m 12s; J. Higham, Nottingham, 9h 56m 48s; J. Andrews, Birmingham, 9h 59m; A. Evans, Southsea, 10h 1m 42s.

Twenty-two minutes after Phillips had finished this distance he came into collision with White, and another spill resulted, both men being much shaken, Phillips so much so that he retired from the contest. After completing the 50 miles most of the men stopped for breakfast, but Stanton did not pull up until he had rattled off 100 miles at 12h 46m 30s, which is only 1m 46sec. more than the best on record, accomplished by him at Lillie-bridge, on October 19, 1874. Cann was next to finish the century at one o’clock, Edlin followed suit at 1h 18m 40s, Lees at 1h 23m 30s, White at 1h 47m and Keen at 2.10.50.

At three o’clock Cann held the lead having then covered 121 miles, the other scores standing as follows:- Stanton, 120 miles; Keen, 110 miles; White, 108 miles; Edlin, 106 miles; Andrews, 104 miles; Higham, 104 miles; Lees, 100 miles; Markham, 77 miles 6 1/2 laps; Torrent [Terront], 70 miles; and Phillips (retired) 64 miles 7 laps. At seven o’clock Cann was still leading, Stanton going on second, Edlin third, and White fourth, and the leading division delighted the spectators with some grand riding, Edlin, who is quite a youth, especially distinguishing himself. At nine o’clock Stanton, Cann, Edlin, Andrews, White, and Evans were the only men on the track, but a few minutes later Keen and Higham were again busy, and, in company with Edlin, did a few laps at their best pace, the Champion bringing down the house when he succeeded in shaking off the game Leicester lad. Stanton first finished 200 miles at 10.28.9. Edlin was next to credit himself with the second century at 10.32.31, when he resigned business for the night. When the first day’s racing came to an end at twelve o’clock on Monday night, the scores stood:- Cann 226 miles, 4 laps; Stanton, 214 miles; Andrews, 202 miles; Edlin, 200 miles; White, 200 miles; Lees, 188 miles; Evans, 188 miles; Keen, 170 miles; Higham, 166 miles; Terront, 124 miles; Markham (retired) 78 miles; Phillips (retired) 64 miles 7 laps.

The first to appear on Tuesday in the six days’ international tournament at the Agricultural Hall were Cann, Stanton, and Edlin, of Leicester, and these were dispatched on their second day’s work punctually at six o’clock. Keen was evidently out of sorts, and after adding 16 miles 5 laps to his previous score of 170 miles, he, at 7m 40m, announced his intention of finally withdrawing from the contest. Edlin pulled up for breakfast at 11.8.14. The Leicester lad’s bicycle was again in motion at 11.34, when he looked all the better for his slight cessation from work. For the next three hours Cann, Stanton, Edlin, and Lees kept rattling away at a capital pace, and at 12h 8m 43 Cann finished his three hundredth mile, a ringing cheer from the audience greeting the performance. Edlin retired for his midday meal at 1h 18m 36s, and after forty minutes’ absence returned to work, and at 2h 51m 12s placed 300 miles to his credit. At 3h 20m 55s the Sheffield man had made his lead into rather over 20 miles, and Edlin had got withing a mile of the long-distance champion. The hard work done by the Leicester lad necessitated a rest of 7m 20s, but on his once more mounting at 4h 7m he set to work in earnest, and Stanton joining issue, the pair raced along in close company for a mile or two, first one and then the other leading, amidst the applause of the spectators, who now mustered to the strength of about 200 person. As the afternoon wore on the company increased, and Stanton, Cann, Edlin, Andrews, and Terront became the recipients of frequent outbursts of applause as they sped along at a great pace, the speed at times being tremendous, considering that seven and a half circuits have to be made to complete a miles. Edlin took second place at six o’clock, passing Stanton. Edlin went off to rest at 9h 33m 30s, but was in the saddle again at 10h 15m. Cann, Edlin, and Andrews kept on until the clock struck twelve when the score stood as follows:- Cann, 422 miles 1 lap; Edlin, 394 miles 5 laps; Andrews 369 miles 1 1/2 laps; Stanton 352 miles; Lees 850 [350] miles; Higham, 310 miles 1 lap; Terront, 303 miles 5 1/2 laps; Evans, 292 miles; White, 271 miles 6 1/2 laps; Keen (retired) 166 miles; Markham (retired) 77 miles 4 1/2 laps; Phillips (retired) 64 miles 7 laps. The performance of the first three men is better for the time than any hitherto recorded.

The third day’s work commenced punctually at six o’clock on Wednesday morning by Cann and Edlin. Edlin made his total 400 miles at 6h 5m 45sec, and at 8h 23m 30sec went off the track for 5m 30sec. Edlin relaxed his efforts for 14min 50sec at 10h 5m 30sec. So far the best work put in during the morning was that of Cann, Terront, Andrews, Lees, and Edlin. Cann pulled up at 10h 46m 21sec, and was away until 1h 4m. Edlin took a rest at 11h 42m, but was only away 9 min. Lees was the fourth man to place 400 miles to his account, this being accomplished at 1h 51m 25s, and at at 12h 38m he left the track for 12 1/2 min. Towards noon the attendance had visibly increased, and at twelve o’clock the marking boards showed the following figures:- Cann, 488 miles; Edlin, 456 miles 5 laps. A ringing cheer was accorded when at 1h 6m 3sec he had placed 500 miles on record, a performance that puts all others in the shade for the time allowed for riding - viz. 43h 6m 3sec. At this period Cann retired for 47m 37sec, and made a substantial meal. The track being tolerably clear through the temporary retirement of about seven of the competitors for dinner, Edlin, Higham, Cann, and Terront indulged the spectators with a specimen of their speed for several laps, in which the Leicester youth proved himself well able to hold his own in spite of the most strenuous exertions of the Frenchman, who evidently tried his utmost in response to frantic gestures of an excited backer. The pace soon had its effect upon Terront, who shut off steam at 2h 22m. For 8h 3m had Stanton been away from active participation in the race when he mounted his “iron steed” at 3h 34m, and some grand spurting took place between him, Edlin, and Cann, which, however unadvisable on the part of the two last named, had the effect of creating an amount of enthusiasm on the part of the spectators. Five hundred miles were put up by Edlin at 3h 52m 42s, and the hoisting of the figures brought forth yet further remarks of appreciation. Some extremely lively business was transacted between nine and ten o’clock, when Terront commenced to ride at a pace that seemed anything but safe on a track with such turns necessarily exist on a track measuring as many as seven and a half circuits to the mile, but the British public applauded to the echo, and this had the effect of inducing Edlin to join issue with the Frenchman, and, after racing in close company for a miles, the Leicester youth fairly beat him for pace, and was rewarded with acclamation by the thousands present. The band had just concluded playing “God Save the Queen” at five minutes past eleven, when Terront, who appeared to have partaken rather freely of stimulants, came down heavily at the Liverpool-road end, bringing Edlin and Cann over him. Edlin was almost stunned, and had to be carried to his tent, but Cann remounted in about four minutes. Fortunately Andrews and Lees escaped the melee and kept on. To the surprise of everyone present Edlin made his reappearance at 11h 11min, only having been away six minutes. By this time the public, who were just leaving the hall when the accident happened, climbed the barriers and swarmed into the inclosure. Both Cann and Edlin were cheered to the echo, but the same cannot be said for Terront, whose reckless mode of progression had been the theme of remark for some time. Cann and Edlin both stopped for a few minutes at 11h 38m 10s, and the former went to his tent, but seeing Edlin remount followed suit two minutes later, and so these two and Lees kept on to the bitter end, and when the clock struck twelve, and the third day’s work was over, the following was the state of the pole:_ Cann, 613 m 2 2/3 laps; Edlin, 586 m 4 laps; Andrews, 520 m; Lees, 510 m 1 1/2 laps; Terront, 469 m 6 1/2 laps; Higham, 427 m 3 1/2 laps; Stanton, 400 m; White, 384 m; Evans, 360 m; Keen (retired), 186 m 5 laps; Markham (retired), 77 m 5 1/2 laps; Phillips (retired), 64 m 7 laps. Cann says he was not in the least hurt by his fall, a fact that was evident from the way he kept riding on to the finish. The same remark will apply to Edlin, but Terront was led out of the hall at 11.30, looking a deal the worse.

The Fourth Day
As the clock chimed six on Thursday morning Cann rode up to the starting mark looking little the worse for his spill. Andrews followed, and then Edlin came on the track, but owing to a dispute with Cann about being credited with half a lap he had ridden on the previous night he was not in the saddle until 6 hours 9 min 11sec, and he also appeared to be a little worse for his scrimmage. Edlin’s 600 miles were hoisted at 7 hours 10min 35sec, and the appearance of the numbers elicited a cheer from the few looker on thne present. Edlin, at 8 hours 45min 50secs retired, and returned at 9 hours 7min 20secs. Edlin went off for 24min 15sec, and when Cann and Edlin got into close company about thenty past ten they started racing against each other, and kept going at a rattling pace for a couple of miles, which Edlin covered in 8min 2sec - not a bad performance after the amount of riding he had already gone through. He then resigned work for a brief period, and Cann followed his example, and was off 22min. At noon, the records were:- Cann, 680 miles 4 laps; Edlin, 652 miles 6 laps; Lees, 585 miles 1 1/2 laps; Andrews, 579 miles; Terrent, 512 miles 4 laps; Higham, 450 miles; Stanton, 400 miles; Evans, 395 miles 4 1/2 laps; White, 380 miles. Edlin, Cann, Lees, Andrews, Terront, and Higham were travelling at a steady rate, none of them appearing to care about forcing the pace, a fact not at all to be wondered at. Edlin went to dinner at 1 hour 25min, and Cann at 1 hour 27min 50sec. Edlin having finished his repast, resummed activities at 1 hour 55min 56secs, having been away 30m 56sec. Cann was not long before he reappeared, the Sheffield blade proving quite as sharp over his meal as his industrious opponent, the duration of his absence only amounting to 30min 20sec. Cann finished his seven hundredth mile at 2 hours 10 min 43secs, and received quite an ovation. Edlin and Cann stuck to each other closely, first one and then the other leading, until Edlin varied matters a little by stopping for a short time; 10min 43sec. sufficed for Edlin’s rest, but when he returned he seemed to be suffering from stiffness. Andrews had covered 600 miles at 3 hours 33min 16 secs. Edlin registered 700 miles at 4 hours 39min 15sec, when he received a well-merited mark of approbation from the crowd that at this time surrounded the enclosure. Edlin went to tea at 5 hours 51min 35sec. Cann, Edlin, and Evans afterwards spurted in fine style. The applause was vociferous when Cann at 6 hours 59min 10secs knocked off 750 miles, some thirty miles more than he had accomplished at the close of the fourth day in Mr. Lewis’s competition. [Ed- Which race does this remark refer to? Is there another undiscovered six day from earlier?] Edlin reached his seven hundred and fiftieth mile at 10 hours 17min 51 sec, and Terront 600 miles at 11 hours 5min 20sec. The race between Cann and Edlin for first prize, and between Lees and Andrews continues to be of a very interesting character. Cann has so far pursued his labours with excellent judgment, whilst too much praise cannot be accorded to Edlin for the persistent and plucky way in which he has followed close on the heels of the game Sheffielder. At midnight the following were the scores:- Cann, 796 miles 7 laps; Edlin, 767m 2 1/2; Lees, 690m; Andrews, 672; Terront, 608; Higham, 530 1; Evans, 480; Stanton, 400; White, 384; Keen (retired) 186 5; Markham (retired) 77 5 1/2; Phillips (retired) 64 7.

Liverpool Mercury (England) Monday, 25-Nov-1878

“On Saturday night the match was concluded in favour of Cann, who since the retirement of Stanton from the contest, had held the lead. Nothing of importance occurred during the day, the most noteworthy event being the completion of 1000 miles by Cann at 42 minutes past eleven in the morning, Edlin completing the same distance at 31 minutes past 3 in the afternoon. At seven minutes to eleven the competition was concluded, the several distances being as follows:- ...“

Leicester Chronicle (England) Saturday, 30-Nov-1878

Of the many feats of endurance that have brought to the public notice during the past few years, there are probably few more remarkable than that concluded at the Agricultural Hall on Saturday night; when Wm. Cann, of Sheffield, succeeded in riding a bicycle 1,060 miles in six days, the riding time being restricted to 18 out of the 24 hours. Stanton first astonished the world by riding 1,000 miles at the Agricultural Hall in six days - from February 25 to March 2 this year - and this by many was looked upon as being almost unapproachable. Not only did Cann exceed it on Saturday last, but Edlin, a youth of 19, covered upwards of 20 miles more ground whilst Lees, Andrews, and Terront all scored over 900 miles. At six o’clock on the morning of the concluding day, punctually to time, Cann, Edlin, Evans, and Andrews were sent on their last day’s journey. Cann and Edlin stuck to each other like shadows, and, in spite of the game efforts of the Leicester youth, Cann never let him gain an inch back of the advantage he had established up to the time they had dismounted at 1hrs 32min 25sec. Edlin was first to re-appear, after being absent 1h 13m 25sec, Cann joining him 2min 25sec after. At 11hrs 42min 9 sec or 95hrs 42min 9sec (riding time) from the start, the Sheffield man completed a thousand miles, and was cheered immensely when he took a brief rest of 20 minutes, and at noon time the scores stood as follows:- Cann, 1000 miles 2 laps; Edlin 973 miles 4 laps; Lees 890 6 laps; Andrews 860 miles; Terront 800 miles 1 lap; Higham, 650 miles  1 lap; Evans 640 miles; White and Stanton’s totals remaining unaltered, neither having done any work during the morning. Edlin was off from 12 hours 31 mins 22 secs until 1 hour 57 min 53 secs. As the afternoon wore on the company rapidly increased in numbers, and when Edlin at 3 hours 31 min 1 sec finished his thousandth mile the applause was very hearty, and soon after this he went for a long rest, seeing that it was then impossible to catch Cann, who, at four o’clock followed the Leicester man’s example. Andrews was credited with 900 miles at 5 hours 53 secs, and Lees had covered 950 miles at 6 hours 27 min 10 secs. Edlin did not again mount his machine until 6 hours 28 min 20 secs, when he appeared in a clean rig out, and commenced to work at a rare pace, and was joined by Cann at 7 hours 7 min, the Sheffielder having donned a velveteen jacket and pink scarf. Half an hour later Terront was once again in the saddle, the Frenchman wearing a scarf of red, white, and blue. Matters were made a little more exciting, as the band struck up the “Marseillaise” a fact that seemed to inspire Terront to renewed energy, as he drove his machine along at a fine pace, and Cann and Edlin being nothing loth to have a cut in, the three raced away as if they had only been riding a few minutes instead of days. Cann was lustily cheered when, at 7 hours 46 min 7 sec, he had knocked off 1,050 miles, and was 31 miles ahead of Edlin, so that the result was now beyond doubt. Shortly before nine the track was entirely deserted, but the thousands present were not kept long waiting, Cann, Lees, Andrews, and Edlin again appearing. Affairs progressed without feature of great interest until a quarter to eleven, when Cann pulled up and stated that he intended to ride a mile in fast time. This he at once set about, and, going as fresh almost as at any time during the week, he completed the distance in 3 min 34 sec. It now only wanted seven minutes to eleven, and the spectators swarming into the inclosure, the great six day’s bicycle race came to an end, the scores at 10 hours 58 min 59 sec standing as follows:- ...

Phillips and Markham retired on the first day through accidents. Keen gave up on the second day, and Stanton did not add to his score on Wednesday. Thomas, of Portsmouth, intended to compete, but his entry arrived too late.

W. Cann was presented by Mr. Etherington on the part of the promoters with a gold medal in consideration of his fine performance, and, in a suitable speech, he complimented Edlin upon his pluck and good riding, he desired that Edlin would accept 5 from him, a proposition that was received with marked signs of approbation.







1,060 miles

5 laps



1,025 miles

1.5 laps



952 miles

2 laps



928 miles

3 laps



900 miles

4 laps



707 miles

2.5 laps



704 miles




480 miles




400 miles




186 miles

5 laps



77 miles

5.5 laps



64 miles

7 laps