The easy way to identify an Elswick cross-frame is to observe the bottom tubes. Elswick’s design is unique, with the tubes crossing each other.
Raleigh had already patented the cross-frame design, and cross-frames were their top product in the early years of the twentieth century.
To try to avoid paying patent fees, other manufacturers who wished to cash in on Raleigh’s success had to create a different style.
It is often referred to as a ‘cross-tube’ but, as you can see from the catalogue below, Elswick themselves describe their patent design as a Cross Truss Frame.
1906 Elswick Gentleman’s Special Cross Truss Frame ‘Model 6’ Bicycle
This Elswick is photographed at the entrance to Brighton Aquarium, which was built in 1872.
Eugenius Birch’s original design incorporated a variety of styles. Grand archways, columns and elaborate stonework reflected the Pompeian and Gothic influence. Statues of Bath stone, green marble and red Edinburgh granite were used in its construction. The Aquarium’s foundations were dug deep into the ground as the building was not allowed to be taller than the neighbouring promenade, Marine Parade.
The distinctive clock tower and gateway to the Aquarium were added in 1874. The four corners of the clock tower bore bronze statues symbolising the seasons. Images of mermaids and sea-nymphs were evident elsewhere in the structure. A frieze inscription at the entrance stated: ‘And God said, Let the water bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life.’
Among those moving creatures were a number of specimens that inspired great interest. The Dublin Bay Prawn of 1874 attracted considerable excitement. In 1880 a manatee was displayed in a huge tank that enabled the viewer to witness the creature at eye level. Sea lions arrived in 1877 and were able to successfully breed. Rather drier attractions could be found elsewhere. The waterfall grotto proved a popular meeting place, and concerts were regularly held in the conservatory. By 1876 the roof terrace had been expanded to incorporate a roller-skating rink and smoking room. Film shows were increasingly common from the end of the nineteenth century, and the conservatory was briefly known as the Aquarium Kinema.
Then and now…
ELSWICK CYCLES & MANUFACTURING Co
Walker Gate, Newcastle-on-Tyne
The Elswick name is reasonably well-known today, even though the company went bankrupt a hundred years ago. The reason is that the remains of the business was purchased by F. Hopper & Co in 1910, the company becoming Elswick Hopper. Bicycles were subsequently badged as Hopper, Elswick, and Elswick Hopper.
In the 1970s Coventry Eagle shared workspace with Elswick Hopper. Coventry Eagle changed its name to Falcon in 1970, and in 1978 Falcon was acquired by Elswick Hopper. So Elswick history is intertwined with several other well-known manufacturers.
You can see a potted history of F. Hopper Whitesmith & Machinist in the picture below, from the 1951 catalogue, showing 70 years of trading.