Race Between Spittle and Forder (1869)

The velocipede contest at Lea Brook the other day might almost, had the weather been anticipated, have been arranged for water velocipedes, for the showers that fell at brief intervals made the “grounds” sufficiently “like a pool” to deter all but the most adventurous visitors and even two of the candidates failed to put in an appearance. The chief point of the contest was a close run between Spittle, of Birmingham and the redoubtable Forder, of Wolverhampton, the latter winning by a yard and a half out of 155 yards. The manufacture of these  new locomotives in the Black Country is now attaining considerable proportions, one firm turning out not less than three hundred per week. Bicycles and tricycles in all imaginable designs are being constantly produced and the amount of mechanical genius which is being concentrated on this popular enterprise will doubtless result in the invention of new modes of motion of which our grandfathers little dreamed. The acme to which inventors seem to aspire is the production of an aerial machine, which, like Dick Turpin’s “Black Bess,” would put the tollgate-keepers to defiance. It may encourage some hopeful genius to know that the Marquis of Worcester actually invented a flying machine, to which he thus refers in his quaint “Centurie of inventions”: – “How to make a man to fly, which I have tried with a little boy of two years old in a barn, from one end to the other on a hay mow.”  The Marquis’s invention was, however, too much in the character of a balloon to accord with modern notions, but Friar Bacon declared it possible to make “engines for flying, a man sitting in the midst whereof, by turning only about an instrument which moves artificial wings made to beat the air, much after the fashion of a bird’s flight.” It is something on the latter principle which more than one mechanical genius in the Black Country is taxing his inventive powers to realise. In the meantime, zealous velocipedists, stimulated by such contests as that at Lea Brook, are bringing the art of riding the mechanical horse to very great perfection.

Birmingham Daily Post, September 20, 1869

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