Walter MacGregor (“Robbie”) Robinson (1877-1956) was a cyclist and writer from Liverpool. He worked for many years as an official for the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company and lived at Lyttleton Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham from at least 1925 until his death in 1956.

He was Chairman of the Birmingham branch of the Guild of Insurance Officials, a former regional organiser for the United Nations, and was for many years a lay worker for St Augustine’s Church in Edgbaston, where he had been a member of the parochial church council.

He was a prolific writer on cycling and contributed many articles to the Birmingham Post and other publications under his pen-name “Wayfarer.” He also gave lantern slide lectures in the 1920s and 30s.

A pioneer of “rough-stuff cycling” – using rough and rutted drovers’ tracks – he and his friends crossed the Berwyn Mountains in north-east Wales in March 1919 in deep snow, having to push rather than ride their heavy fixed-gear bikes. It took them four hours to cover ten miles. Wayfarer’s account of the trip – Over the top – became a classic and an inspiration to others to seek out less well-known cycle routes. The Wayfarer Centenary Weekend in 2019 marked 100 years to the day since the original crossing by Wayfarer and his companions and involved cyclists travelling Wayfarer’s original route up to his memorial at the summit of the Pen Bwlch Llandrillo pass.

W. M. Robinson, known to friends as “Robbie,” died in Birmingham on 17th September 1956 and is buried in Witton Cemetery. A bench was erected in his memory on The Green, Meriden in 1959, close to the National Cyclists’ Memorial, which had been unveiled in 1921.

Plaque on Wayfarer memorial seat, The Green, Meriden

The bench was designed by Mr J. H. Hunt of Sparkhill, Birmingham, who was a committee member of the Birmingham and District Cyclists’ Touring Club. Fixed on concrete foundations, the memorial seat is made of stone faced with English oak. It was unveiled on Saturday 23rd May 1959 by Mr H. H. England, Vice-President of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, in a ceremony witnessed by more than 200 cyclists. Mr E. Sakne, Chairman of Meriden Parish Council, accepted the memorial seat on behalf of the parish council.

The Cycling North Wales website has further information about “Wayfarer” and his exploits:

If you have any further information, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

© Solihull Council, 2021.
You are welcome to link to this article, but if you wish to reproduce more than a short extract, please email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

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