This website provides all the information required to follow the Kentish countryside ‘rambles’ of a Victorian Cyclist as described in the history of cycling book ‘A Victorian Cyclist’ written by Stephen and Shirley Channing. On this website you are offered the choice of using either a contemporary map, the sort that the Victorian Cyclist may have used, or to use a modern alternative. These can be downloaded by clicking a link at the top of each ‘ramble’, either the original version or with the routes highlighted. The website also provides information on most of the villages encountered en route as well as pictures of all the fauna and flora he discovers along the way.
The book, ‘A Victorian Cyclist’, brings to light a comprehensive journal written by a cyclist in 1886, offering a very rare opportunity to follow in the tracks of this explorer of the Kentish countryside. This recently published gem of a book gives a unique insight into a Victorian gentleman’s experiences as he traversed the beautiful countryside of East Kent, conveying his passion for cycling and also providing the reader with vast amounts of information regarding the environment in which he travels. He writes about local history, the native fauna and flora, social conditions and much more, conveying what he sees in a style that portrays great panache and high intellect, in what he calls a ‘chatty manner’.
The cycles of the day were heavy and cumbersome and had no gears. Pneumatic tyres had not yet been invented, and country roads were generally rough, weathered and unsurfaced. However, our Victorian Cyclist had no roundabouts to negotiate, no articulated lorries or traffic lights to contend with – his obstacles were other cyclists, horses and carts and wildlife!
‘A Victorian Cyclist’ puts the experience of cycling in context, at a time of rapid innovation and exploration. There is a chapter on women and cycling, indicating attitudes to gender, in a time before emancipation and suffrage, when women’s rights were beginning to be enshrined in law and traditional male authority in society was being questioned.
The book is illustrated with over 200 pictures, most of which are over 100 years old, and many indicate the sights, buildings, etc on which he comments in his text.
The ‘rambles’ all start in Margate and vary in distance between around 30 and 80 miles. In all over 400 miles of East Kent’s less well-known countryside is explored.
We hope A Victorian Cyclist informs, educates and brings pleasure to its readers, whether they follow the ‘rambles’ on foot, by bicycle or car, or just in their minds eye, sharing as our cyclist did, some of the simple pleasures of the Kentish countryside.