Thursday, 29 October 2009

Blue plaque honours champion cyclist

A Blue Plaque has been unveiled in memory of a proud son of Aberaman who was known as the Champion Cyclist of the World.

During the last decade of the 19th century Arthur Linton scaled the peaks of international distinction as a world-class cyclist before his untimely death at the age of 24 which robbed the country of one of its greatest sportsmen.

He held innumerable British records at distances up to 200 miles and reached celebrity status in France where his finest achievement ranks as victory in the 1896 Bordeaux-Paris race.

In honour of his outstanding contribution to the world of sport, Arthur Linton was chosen as one of 30 people, places or events to be honoured with a Blue Plaque from throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf.

At a special ceremony took place in St Margaret’s Church, Aberaman, where a stained glass window and a lecturn has long since been unveiled in his memory, and the Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf Cllr Robert Smith paid tribute to his achievements.

”Arthur Linton was certainly one of the proud sons of Aberaman and the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taf due to his incredible prowess as a world-class cyclist,” he said.

“Today we are honouring this memory more than a century following his tragic demise which undoubtedly robbed Wales of a champion son. I hope many people will pass his former home and on seeing the Blue Plaque will be inspired into finding out more about this outstanding individual.”

Many of the descendants of the Linton family, some traveling from Lincolnshire and Oxford, also attended the ceremony which saw the unveiling of the new Blue Plaque. This will now be placed on the former family home in Cardiff Road, Aberaman.

Also present at the event was sports historian Stuart Stanton who not only paid tribute to Arthur Linton and his legacy, but to an entire group of first-class cyclists who came from the village at the latter part of the 19th century, including the Michael brothers.

Arthur Linton began to race locally and by 1892 was well known throughout South Wales. During the 1893 season he established himself nationally and was signed as a professional to ride a 'Gladiator' cycle under the tutelage of the trainer 'Choppy' Warburton.

In 1894 Arthur defeated Dubois, the French Champion, in Paris and was narrowly defeated by the Italian Champion Bonnic, who thereafter refused to race him again. He was given the title of 'Champion Cyclist of the World' and when he returned to Aberaman in December he was given a hero's welcome, a public banquet was held in the Lamb and Flag public house and he was presented with an illuminated address.


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