A WORD OF WARNING
Don’t try a freewheel machine for the first time in a thickly populated district or busy thoroughfare. Remember it is better to acquire the art of properly handling the machine in some quiet byway or country lane. The art should easily be acquired by the veriest novice in a few hours.
– 1900 New Hudson catalogue
1898 New Hudson ‘Special Popular’ Lady’s Safety
Fixed-Wheel Model (1″ Pitch Chain)
26″ Rear Wheel
28″ Front Wheel
with Woods Patent Wire Saddle (Longford Wire, Iron & Steel Co Ltd)
This New Hudson was recently found in America, where it had been in storage since the 1960s. The nuts and bolts are imperial, except for the saddle clamp, which is AF. At first I thought the saddle might be an American model, but the rear of the unusual wire saddle top shows that the wire was made by a British manufacturer, Longford Wire Co Ltd of Warrington. (According to the 1915 magazine article reproduced further down the page, this company also made wire seat tops for motor buses).
Humber had international agencies, although this machine also has a very old address label attached to it, showing a destination in Laburnum St, London EC2. If only bicycles could talk… 🙂
When I was fitting new tyres, the different wheel sizes surprised me. But I checked the 1900 catalogue (I don’t have an earlier New Hudson catalogue) and this is correct. I was also surprised that a fixed-wheel machine was still available in 1900: freewheels had revolutionised cycling since their introduction in 1898. However, New Hudson’s range appears a little out-of-date by 1900: they were also offering an upsloper model, whose style had been superseded in 1895. Maybe they were using up old stock?
You’ll observe that this bicycle has the earlier headbadge.
1900 NEW HUDSON CATALOGUE
Observe below three different styles of lady’s loopframe illustrated in the 1900 New Hudson catalogue.
The first loopframe design is the same as the bicycle featured here: where the top tube meets the seat tube, the loop ‘kicks up.’
The loop on the one below it does not ‘kick up.’
The loopframe on the third model is of a different style, ie the down tube bends too.
An interesting point is that the catalogue description for the ‘Special Popular’ states: ‘Under no circumstances can we fit FREE-WHEELS to this machine.’
You can see the rear sprocket for the inch pitch chain, below
WOODS PATENT WIRE CYCLE SADDLE
Longford Wire, Iron & Steel Co Ltd
The Baroness de Langsdaff begs to enclose postal order and stamps to the Longford Wire Company Ltd for the Wire Woven Saddle which she has had on hire, and is pleased to keep, as she has found it the most comfortable and the best she has yet seen. It has enabled her to ride long distances without fatigue, and over very bad roads without a jar.
– 1897 Longford Wire Co advert; from Baroness de Langsdaff, Stour House, Christchurch, Hants, 30th September, 1896
This Wire Woven Saddle is one of the ‘lost gems’ of the 1890s, a time when thousands of items were invented and marketed on the back of the boom in bicycle sales. Small engineering companies all over the country designed, patented and sold accessories direct to the public via classifieds and adverts in the cycling press, as well as having stalls at national bicycle shows to promote their products. Many such items were picked up by larger cycle manufacturers or component sales companies such as Brown Bros and Benetfink (which was taken over by Gamages in 1907).
The Commercial Motor magazine of 4th February, 1915, refers to the Longford Wire Co of Warrington in its article ‘Where to Buy your Supplies.’
The home trainer made by The Longford Wire Co, which is illustrated above, was exhibited on Stand 218 at the 1897 Stanley Show. Priced at 45/- and weighing 20 lbs, it fitted under the back wheel of a bicycle; an equivalent of one mile was ridden while the machine covered 15 feet.
The professional racing cyclist A.E Walters, who held the world’s record for 24 hours (634 miles 770 yards, Paris, 1899) fulfilled a 12 weeks’ engagement at the London Pavilion in 1898, pedalling the equivalent of a mile on stage. A letter from Walters, recalling the incident, is mentioned in Bartleet’s Bicycle Book.
EVOLUTION OF THE LOOPFRAME
The first lady’s safety bicycles were single tube, like the 1893/1894 Victoria illustrated above (To see mine PLEASE CLICK HERE).
A single tube was obviously a weak point on a frame, and manufacturers started adding an extra tube around this time. The 1896 Sunbeam catalogue below shows a lady’s bicycle with two straight tubes (as well as a very rare attempt at designing a gent’s frame with a lower top tube for ladies).
Rover introduced a ‘K-frame’ in 1895.
Gamages’ 1896 catalogue offers both a straight double tube lady’s safety and an early loopframe style.
Armstrong (below) show the typical early loopframe style.
Rudge-Whitworth’s 1896 loopframe (below) is similar.
Some of the Longford Wire ads and Bartleet’s Bicycle Book article from – http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Longford_Wire_Co