Modern young adults go off to Thailand on a jumbo jet and think that they invented adventure (they think that they invented sex too, but that’s another story!). As this story shows, early Wholehope fans were interested in travel too, but they did it in a time when there was little or no backup or support. Once you left Dover, you couldn’t even call home. In 1953/4, Bob Thornton and Geordie Richardson cycled through 9 countries in a 12-month adventure – this extract from a local newspaper tells the story.

Home in Holystone from a 12-months cycling tour of 9 European countries is 27 year-old Mr Bob Thornton, eldest son of Mrs Mary Thornton of 14 Devonshire Drive. With a friend, George Richardson of North Shields, they cycled 3450 miles in a journey which took them to France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. When the £50 each that they took with them was spent, they took work in a Swedish shipyard.

Objective Lisbon

It was in June 1953 that Bob and George, carrying only such essentials as a tent, sleeping bags and a primus stove, waved goodbye to their parents and began to pedal their way to Dover, the first stage in their 12 month adventure. Six days later, they were over the channel and heading south from Calais. Their objective, and the furthest point south in their journey, was the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

8 – 10 hours a day

Cycling eight to ten hours a day, they made good progress across France. It was sunny Spain that gave the two men their biggest disappointment – and the most arduous part of their trip. In the north of the country, there was a village every 10 kilometers, but beyond San Sebastian lay a waterless ‘desert’ which all but sapped the men’s enthusiasm for the adventure they had undertaken, the idea of turning back was discussed more than once! From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, the sun was so hot that cycling was impossible, and the two men found shelter until they could carry on again. Small wonder that when the time came to retrace their way across Spain, Bob and George did the journey by train. They spent four days in Madrid, where they sweated away about a stone in weight, and had the strangest meal of their lives – octopus, a Spanish delicacy.

Belgium – Germany

Back across France, the two men crossed into Belgium at Mons, had three days rest in Brussels and then went to Holland via Arnhem and Njimegen. Crossing into Germany, they went through Bremen and Hamburg, then into Denmark. At Aarhus, they spent four days trying to get work at the docks, but were unsuccessful and took a boat to Copenhagen. From there they took a boat to Malmo in southern Sweden, where further attempts to get shipyard work were also in vain. It was the same story at Landskrona, and, with their money running out, Bob and George set off for Gothenburg, covering an average of 90 miles a day. At Gothenburg, both men got jobs in their own trades, and they worked there from September 1953 until Easter this year (1954).

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