George and Harriet Dibble took over Anchor Hotel at Ripley in 1849.  George died in 1866.  From the mid 1870s, with the aid of her 2 unmarried daughters, Harriet and Annie, Mrs Dibble provided refreshments and accommodation for cyclists, a new type of mostly middle class users of the road from London to Portsmouth, which passed through Ripley.  This led to the village being called by Lord Bury, 'the Mecca of all good cyclists'.  One of the best known cycling clubs, The Bath Road Club (founded 1886), did a large amount of their social cycling on the Ripley Road and virtually made Anchor their country headquarters.  Mrs Dibble died in 1887, Annie in 1895 and Harriet in 1896, and with the advent of the motor car the number of cyclists on the road diminished.

The cyclists' visitor books kept at the Anchor Hotel, Ripley, covering the period 1881 to 1895, and now held at Surrey History Centre (ref. 7597), record the details of all those cyclists who passed along the road, stopped at the hotel and signed the books.  Details given include date, name, and cycling club.  Very occasionally other details or comments are added, including length or times of journey, state of the roads or the weather.  The great majority of the riders are men but the names of some women are also recorded.  At its peak the number of entries per year in the books exceeded 6000. The books are an important and early survival from the first years of cycling.

Leave a Comment

Comments posted using the form below will be published on the website. It is therefore recommended that you do not include any personal details or contact information in the comment.

If you have a question and want to provide personal details we recommend you use the 'Contact Us' form instead.

Your email address will not be published but it may be used to contact you with a reply to your comment. Required fields are marked *