1927 Runwell Super 22″ Roadster
Terry’s Accessory Umbrella Holder attached to front fork
Accessory Rear Carrier Rack, with wicker basket fitted
With Optional Extras:
BSA Three-Speed Gear ……………………………15/- extra
Open Centre Oil Bath Metal Gear Case ….10/- 6d extra
This is one of my most original bicycles. The paintwork and transfers are still in good condition. The gold lining has faded in a few places, but 90% of it is still there, in good condition. The attractive Runwell logos on the headstock, on the chain-case and on the rear mudguard are in good condition too. And the Reynolds Tubing transfer also shows up well, on the seat tube.
The following options and specifications, copied from the catalogue, all still exist on this bicycle:
The saddle on this bike is a very rare Empire spring hammock model.
The pedals are Bramptons. The light bracket is a Bramptons too.
This bike has both of these options.
The gold lining shows up well, as you can see in these pictures.
Most unusual – the bike even has its original Michelin 28 x 1 1/2 front tyre …and it still holds air!
The rear tyre is old, but may not be an original.
The bike will be serviced by my mechanic. However, the only thing wrong with it is that one of the support brackets for the rear carrier has come loose. If you look carefully in the photo below, you can see. This is a common problem with these fittings, and it is very easily fixed.
RUNWELL CYCLE co (Birmingham) Ltd
Lawson St, Birmingham 4
The Runwell Cycle Company was founded by William Henry Jennings (born 1873 in Derby, England). When Jennings was twenty, he moved to Leeds, where he was listed as a “clothier’s traveler.” By 1904, he had moved to Birmingham, where he founded the Runwell Cycle Company on Lawson Street.
Jennings’s granddaughter remembers her grandfather as a kind, generous, and good-hearted man:
My earliest vivid memory of my grandfather is of my grandfather’s 60th birhday party in London before the war. Grandpa was a member of the Magic Circle and entertained all his small children (grown-ups, too!) with conjuring tricks, to their great delight. During the war, he stayed in London (14 Great Eastern Street) and I visited him there when the war ended.
In 1945 my father had settled in the country in Warwickshire and it was then that grandpa gave me and my brothers a Runwell cycle each, which gave us the much appreciated freedom of being able to roam the countryside during our teen years. Grandpa wrote to us, too, and also gave us very generous birthday presents. I always remember him as being kind and generous and I believe his staff thought this too.
The Runwell Cycle Company started small, but “through sheer hard work and business acumen,” Jennings expanded the business until he had depots and branches in most of Britain’s large towns, and an overseas depot in Java.
One of Jennings’s daughters recalls that:
Father knew all of his workforce by name and never employed anyone who belonged to a Union. There was always a happy atmosphere and we enjoyed going round the factory talking to the people and watching them tune the spokes in the wheels. He used to leave us on the a.m. train and came home twelve hours later and brought work to do on the weekends.
The Runwell company relied on the strength of its bicycle frames and the quality of their construction to sell bicycles, rather than their brand name alone. In their advertising, they advocated quality workmanship and affordability as virtues of a good bicycle. Runwell originally manufactured only bicycles, but by the late 1920s seems to have also begun manufacturing toys and sundries, and by the 1950s had also begun manufacturing parts and accessories for the auto industry. While still focused on building quality bicycles, their earlier advertising claim that, “we concentrate our energies on bicycles alone” fell by the wayside. By the 1960s, the firm was known primarily as a parts and accessories supplier, and no images or examples of advertising could be located after 1961.
(All quotations from original correspondence with Julia Jennings, 28 October 2008)