Ralph Dougherty 'The Rugby Flyer'.

Ralph Dougherty joined Rugby Racing Cycling Club in the early 1930's and began to succeed in open events, becoming known as 'The Rugby Flyer'.
In 1939, in England, Ralph Dougherty became the first 25 miles record holder for finishing in under the hour. A real specialist in the 25 mile TT Ralph made competition history by becoming the first rider to beat the hour on English roads when he won the Solihull CC 25 mile time trial in 59:29.
Ralph lived in Alwyn Road Rugby until his death a few years ago and in his latter years became very interested in walking. Ralph had a permanent artwork dedicated to him in 2012 on the Rugby Viaduct Cycleway, home to a portrait bench, a creative artwork.located on the cycleway just off Consul Road (details below).

Rugby's Portrait Bench - this features steel cut, life-size portraits of:

  • Ralph 'The Rugby Flyer' Dougherty, a star rider for Rugby Racing Cycling Club in the 1930s.
  • Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, the Rugby-born scientist and astronomer who jointly discovered the gas helium. He was born on 17th May, 1836. Along with the French scientist Pierre Janssen, he is credited with discovering the gas helium.
  • Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. This was written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll), a pupil at Rugby School.

How to see Rugby's Portrait Bench

The Rugby viaduct cycleway is a magnificent way to cycle into the centre of Rugby traffic free…it starts at the top of the hill in Newbold's Brownsover Road and crosses the Oxford Canal - linking to the Glebe Estate - before taking cyclists over the wonderful 11 arches Viaduct. The grade II listed viaduct was closed in 1965, but remains one of the town's iconic structures. It was opened in 1840 and was the brainchild of influential railway engineer Charles Vignoles. The viaduct comprises 11 arches and spans nearly 700 feet.

From the viaduct, the cycleway follows the old raised railway bank. A ramp leads down to the end of Hunters Lane before the cycleway connects with the Black Path, where the old steps to the railway bridge have been replaced by a ramp.
From there, cyclists can either head for the town centre via Park Road or the railway station via Wood Street and Railway Terrace.

Use the viaduct cycleway by bike via Rugby station and town centre or the canal tow path, or access the cycleway via Consul Road, off the A426 northbound just after the viaduct.

Exract from Rugby Advertiser:

Rugby's £1.2million Viaduct Cycleway Officially Opened By The Mayor

The £1.2 million Rugby Viaduct Cycleway will be officially opened by the town's Mayor later this month. (July 2013)

The ambitious project, a partnership between Rugby Borough Council, sustainable transport charity Sustrans, Warwickshire County Council and St Modwen Properties, links Newbold with Rugby railway station and the town centre via the historic viaduct which spans Leicester Road and the River Avon.

The Borough Council has invested more than £300,000 in the cycleway.
The project was one of 50 throughout the UK given the go ahead after Sustrans secured £70 million from the Big Lottery Fund for its Connect2 initiative.
Connect2 aims to improve links to Sustrans' National Cycle Network.

Cllr Anthony Gillias, Mayor of Rugby, will officially open the Rugby Viaduct Cycleway on Wednesday, 17 July at 11.30am.