The Royal Enfield Cycling Trophy
This magnificent trophy was originally presented to the New Zealand League of Wheelmen (the governing body of cash cycling) by the Royal Enfield Cycle and Motor Company England in 1897, for annual competition at the Leagues Championship meeting for the Five Mile Scratch Race.
It was first presented at the first race held in Dunedin in 1898 and was won by a Christchurch cyclist, Mr G Sutherland who at the age of 20, won every other track title in New Zealand during that year. Sutherland dominated this event over ensuing years and won the trophy again in 1901 in Christchurch, 1902 in Invercargill and 1903 back in Christchurch. Sutherland went on to race at the World championships in Paris in 1900 and was also part of a British team at the 1900 Olympic Games. Sutherland also took fastest time in the Sydney 1000 race and was still winning titles in 1908.
In 1900, the trophy was won by Andy Ralston from Dunedin with the race being held on the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
It is reported that one rider who won the trophy in 1906 was subsequently disqualified for life!!
B. Campion from Christchurch won the trophy in both 1907 and 1908 and this appears to be the last time it was competed for. When Mr Campion passed on, the trophy was retained by his daughter who lived in the Canterbury area and at the age of 92, she moved into an age care home and the trophy was sold with other household items.
The Trophy was discovered in an antique dealers shop in Bondi Junction, Sydney where it was spotted by an ex-pat Southlander, who in turn contacted Mike Fallow from The Southland Times. Mr Fallow then contacted Cycling Southland stalwart Graham Sycamore who began initial inquiries into its availability and cost.
There was considerable interest received from throughout the World from buyers interested in purchasing the 109-year-old trophy, including a Royal Enfield collector form London. The international cycling governing body, the UCI were also interested in procuring the trophy and recommended that Cycling Southland should seriously consider purchasing it.
A special agreement amongst international antique dealers - the ECYMOS Agreement, allows for the repatriation of antiquities, which meant that a priority was given for antique trophies of this nature be returned to their country of origin.
A benefactor was found who assisted greatly in the Trophy being secured, packaged up and insured and sent back to its proud new home at the Velodrome in Invercargill.