A BRIEF HISTORY
Beryl Burton, OBE (12 May 1937 – 5 May 1996) was an English racing cyclist.
She dominated women’s cycle racing in the UK, winning more than 90 domestic championships and seven world titles, and setting numerous national records. She set a women’s record for the 12-hour time-trial which exceeded the men’s record for two years.
She was introduced to cycling through her husband, Charlie, whom she married in 1955. Two years later, she took her first national medal, a silver in the national 100-mile individual time trial championship, and before the decade was out was competing internationally.
In domestic time trial competition, Burton was almost unbeatable. She won the Road Time Trials Council’s British Best All-Rounder Competition for 25 consecutive years from 1959 to 1983. In total, she won 72 national individual time trial titles; she won four at 10 miles (the championship was inaugurated in 1978), 26 at 25 miles, 24 at 50 miles and 18 at 100 miles. Her last national solo time trial titles were achieved in 1986 (at 25 and 50 miles; she was part of the fastest team, Knaresborough CC, in the 50 mile event in 1969).
She also won a further 24 national titles in road racing and on the track: twelve road race championships, and 12 pursuit titles.
Burton won the women’s world road race championship in 1960 and 1967 and was runner-up in 1961. On the track, she specialised in the individual pursuit, winning world championship medals almost every year across three decades. She was world champion five times (1959, 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1966), silver-medallist three times (1961, 1964 and 1968), and winner of bronze in 1967, 1970, 1971 and 1973.
In 1967, she set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles – a mark that surpassed the men’s record of the time by 0.73 miles and was not superseded by a man until 1969. While setting the record she caught and passed Mike McNamara who was on his way to setting the men’s record at 276.52 miles and winning that year’s men’s British Best All-Rounder. She is reputed to have given him a liquorice allsort as she passed him. Apparently, McNamara ate the sweet.
She also set about 50 new national records at 10, 15, 25, 30, 50 and 100-mile distances; her final 10, 25 and 50-mile records each lasted 20 years before being broken, her 100-mile record lasted 28 years, and her 12-hour record still stands today. Her prowess led to the rare distinction, for a woman, of an invitation to compete in the Grand Prix des Nations in 1967.
In 1982, with her daughter Denise, Burton set a British 10-mile record for women riding a tandem bicycle: 21 minutes, 25 seconds.