Thomas Chambers Collection

Material compiled by bicyclist Thomas Chambers, including diaries, maps, and memorabilia about his cycling journeys.

About Thomas Chambers

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Thomas Chambers, with his bike at a signpost in John o' Groats.

Thomas ‘Tommy’ Chambers (1901-1984) was born in Glasgow and grew up during the early 1900s. He originally began cycling because he was looking to get away from the city during the Depression. He saw many of his teenage friends drifting towards drinking and decided he did not want to follow that route. He said, "I saw drink as a form of slavery." He bought a cheap bike and joined the Kinning Park Cycling Club. He later said, "Never in my whole life did I make a better decision. I was made for cycling, and that was the start of my tours through Britain."

Chambers began cycling in 1922 and continued for over 50 years. During this time, he covered a total of 799,405 miles, and was listed in the Guinness Book of Records with the world cycling mileage record.

All of his cycling took place in Britain and Ireland; he never wanted to travel abroad. As a member of the Douglas Cycling Club, he won more than 60 racing prizes all over the country, including 12-hour and 24-hour races. As he travelled around, he made notes about the places he visited, and these became the basis of the talks he gave at various youth and pedal clubs.

Chambers kept meticulous records and notes of his routes and times. These make up the bulk of the collection, which also includes cycling diaries, maps, newspaper cuttings, race results, photographs, memorabilia, journals and letters.

About the collection

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Pages from Thomas Chambers' 1941 cycling diary

Totalling over 600 items, the collection is mainly made up of the meticulous records and notes of Thomas Chambers’ cycling trips. It also includes cycling diaries, maps, press cuttings, race results, photographs, memorabilia, journals and letters.

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Mileage chart from 1930

Finding aid

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A selection of Thomas Chambers' Bartholomew's maps of Scotland

Thomas Chambers Collection listing (PDF, 124KB)

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