Cycling legend Beryl Burton to be awarded Leeds’ highest civic honour

Legendary Morley cyclist Beryl Burton.
Legendary Morley cyclist Beryl Burton.
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Late Leeds cycling legend Beryl Burton OBE is to join the likes of Nelson Mandela in being awarded the city’s highest civic honour.

Regarded as one of the greatest riders that cycling has ever seen, the mother-of-one will join illustrious names on the Freedom of the City board at Leeds Civic Hall on Wednesday from 1pm.

The 13-time national champion cyclist, who held the British Best All-Rounder title for 25 consecutive years, is being lauded 18 years after she passed away aged 58.

In the year her home city hosted the Tour de France, Burton’s memory will also be recognised by cycling lessons and simulators organised by go:cycling in Millennium Square from 10am to 4pm.

Her daughter Denise Burton-Cole, who represented Great Britain alongside her mother at the 1972 World Championships, said: “She was a true Yorkshire woman who came from the Leeds area and was very proud to be from here.

“She would have taken this with the highest honour, she’d also think ‘wow, why me?’ in a way, but what she’s done speaks for itself. We are humbled.”

Beryl Burton, who lived in Morley, is a former member of Morley Cycling Club and Knaresborough Cycling Club who inspired generations of cyclists with feats including holding the men’s world 12-hour time trial record from 1967 to 1969. She pedalled over 277 miles in 12 hours.

The late cyclist’s daughter Denise and husband Charlie, who live in Yorkshire, plan to attend the Leeds ceremony.

Burton’s story was marked through the Beryl theatre production by actor-turned-writer Maxine Peake, which debuted at the West Yorkshire Playhouse earlier this year as part of the Yorkshire Festival.

Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “After hosting a truly unforgettable Grand Depart earlier this year which will live long in the history of both our city and indeed the Tour de France, it is only right that we recognise Beryl Burton OBE for her amazing deeds in the sport that were pivotal in first putting Leeds on the international cycling map.”


Beryl Burton’s career spanned over five decades and included numerous records and countless titles including:

- 25 consecutive British Best All-Rounder time trial titles from 1959 to 1983.

- 122 national titles over five decades.

- Holder of the men’s 12-hour world time trial record from 1967 to 1969, after she pedalled 277.25 miles in 12 hours.

- Her record for the 10-mile time trial of 21 minutes 25 seconds stood, set in 1973, stood for 20 years.

- Her record for the 25-mile time trial of 53 minutes 21 seconds, set in 1981, stood for 10 years.

Stephen Ewen, 62, of Cookridge, who died of sepsis in 2017.

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