A FORTNIGHT ago, there was a throwaway line here about Cyclists’ Touring Club plaques that survive on buildings where they were placed 125 years ago, and we’ve had plenty of response.

The club was formed in Harrogate in 1878 to promote the interests of the first cyclists, and in 1879, it began rating hotels and inns for their friendliness towards cyclists – more than 30 years before the AA did the same for motorists.

The CTC negotiated special rates for cyclists, and in 1888 it began placing 2ft diameter cast iron circular plaques on establishments that had its seal of approval. The plaques, which must have been very expensive to make and distribute, show the club’s winged wheels emblem.

The best known one in our area is on the former Royal Oak pub, near the church in Staindrop. It is just a plain wheel, like the one we showed a fortnight ago on Sykes’s House in Askrigg. Sykes’s House, built in 1687, is today a tearoom which still refreshes cyclists, but in late Victorian times, it was a temperance hotel. The cyclists were so keen to endorse such a healthy establishment that not only did the CTC stick its plaque on the wall, but so did the National Cyclists Union. The NCU had been formed a couple of months before the CTC, in London, but after about ten years, it lost interest in road cycling and concentrated on organising races. Therefore, we think Sykes’s House is unique in our area in having both clubs’ plaques on its wall.

If the CTC struck a very good deal with an establishment, it was proclaimed the club’s “quarters”, and the word was added to the top of the plaque. There are only nine “quarters” plaques that survive in the country, and we have two: one is on the Half Moon in Lazenby, offering cyclists a drink on their way to the seaside at Saltburn, and the other is on the Blackwell Ox at Carlton-in-Cleveland, at the foot of a lung-busting climb up the Cleveland Hills.

If the CTC struck an extremely good deal, the establishment was proclaimed the “headquarters”. Just eight “headquarters” plaques survive in the country, and many people seemed to know that there was one on the side of the Black Swan in Pickering.

Mike Smith emailed to say: “I noticed one of these plates on a pub wall in Pickering – I always wondered what it was.”

Fortunately for us, Tim Allison of Stokesley had recently photographed it because it reminded him of a similar plaque which used to be on the Golden Lion in his hometown.

After the First World War, the CTC placed square copper and enamel plaques on its preferred establishments, and the only two of those that we know about are in Bowes.

If you know of any others, or where they once were, please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk. Many thanks to everyone who has been in touch – for example, Pete Eke emailed to say he’d seen one on the Black Bull at Haworth, a pub with Bronte connections.