Tricycling in London
On Saturday afternoon, accompanied by my daughter Amy, I rode our Timms’ double bicycle to the head quarters of the West Kensington Tricycle Club (of which we are members), to have told first “ran with the club.” As these weekly runs are very largely carried out in London and as a tricycle run is less common than a bicycle meet, I thought a few gossiping notes might interest your readers. We had a run of nearly three miles before we reached headquarters – the Queen’s Head, Brook Green, Hammersmith: but the road made that extra run scarcely, appreciable in the run of the day. We started from the Albert Tavern, Battersea park, across the Thames by the Albert Bridge, thence passed along the Queen’s, road, up lower Sloane street into Sloane street: the roads being macadamised. From the King’s Road Chealsea (whence Sloane Street starts) through Knightsbridge, High Street, Kensington, to Hammersmith the roads were paved with wood throughout; and we ran with great ease, only one of us peddling at a time. The luxury of wood pavement for wheels that are tyred with indian-rubber can only be appreciated on experience. Everywhere the passers-by looked on with evident pleasure and ejaculations of admiration and praise were constant. A gentleman coming out of one of of the great mansions in High Street, Kensington, stood for a few seconds watching our approach and as we passed him raised his hat, saying “You do look comfortable.” Women in market carts dubbed us “Darby and Joan;” and a jocular cabby said, “Well father and how do you do-today?” On reaching headquarters we found about a dozen tricycles assembled. One carried a gentleman and his wife, side by side, and a little girl at the back; another carried a young lady and her sister, back to back. Mr C Cordingley, the editor of the Tricycling Journal, was there on a Cheylesmore; Miss Cordingley, his daughter, rode an Excelsior in very graceful style. Mr Elton, captain of the club, was mounted on a 50-inch Cheylesmore; Mr C Leni, the life and sole of the club, rode an Excelsior; his niece, a pretty, saucy child of eight rode a toy tricycle, fashioned for her by her uncle. I and my daughter rode the Timms’ lever, as I have already mentioned. Amongst those present to see the start was Mr Timms, of Coventry, the maker of the tricycle I rode. After running about the green for an hour, trying the several tricycles, eight or nine started off for a short run, led by the captain. The afternoon was fine and the ride, partly on wood pavement and partly on good macadamised roads, was very enjoyable. Through the crowded ways we ran in a single file and found no difficulty passing carts, wagons, busses and carriages of every sort. When we got beyond the busy roads we rode two, three, or four abreast, chatting together merrily. In this way, perpetually changing our line, we ran through busy Hammersmith, sedate Chiswick and rural Turnham Green and retired Acton and back again – a distance of about thirteen miles – finishing with an excellent appetite for a “knife and a fork tea.”
John B Marsh.
Cheshire Observer, September 10, 1881; pg. 2