I consider the machine featured here to be the bicycle equivalent of an architectural folly, i.e. a structure built to test the practicality of a new building technique or product. In the case of the bicycle, it features an ‘S’ style of frame which pivots at the bottom bracket, and also a shock absorber style of front fork that was more commonly found on later motorcycles.
In my opinion, this machine was made in Germany, around 1928-1930, to test the idea of an open spring frame, both features that could potentially be used in lightweight motorcycles. It has chrome fittings, which came into use in the cycle industry worldwide between 1928 and 1932.
In 1931, the German company Fichtel & Sachs introduced 98cc two stroke engines to the country’s motorcycle manufacturers, who made lightweight frames to house them. Villiers did the same thing in Britain, with the British machines becoming known as ‘autocycles.’ And similar 98cc lightweights were likewise produced in France. In each of these countries, these lightweight motorcycles – with pedals for starting rather than a kickstart, and also a limited top speed – enjoyed a tax-exempt status that made them cheaper to buy and operate. The rider was not required to have a motorcycle license, which encouraged more cyclists to buy motorcycles. For example, the 1935 Triumph TS100 (seen below) looks like a full size 1920s flat tank machine, but is actually a scaled-down lightweight with 98cc Fichtel & Sachs two-speed engine and pedal-start.
1930 ‘S Frame’ Suspension (Springframe) Bicycle
SUSPENSION ON THE ‘S FRAME’
Tower Rd, Queens Park, Brighton
The Pepper Pot is a ten-sided, cylindrical structure, 60 feet (18m) tall and standing on an octagonal base. It is topped by a cupola and a green metal urn. It was designed and built in 1830 by architect Charles Barry in the grounds of a villa built for the owner of Queen’s Park. The Arcana of Science and Art (published in 1836), suggested that the tower stood above a well and housed a steam engine which drew the water out. Its name was given in the Arcana as Belvedere Tower.
During its restoration in 2011 it was discovered that the core of the Pepper Pot is made of a new type of concrete invented by William Ranger, a builder from the nearby village of Ringmer, and known as Ranger’s Artificial Stone or Ranger’s Lime Concrete. It is one of the earliest buildings in England to use this material.
Horton, near Wimborne, Dorset
Horton Tower (Sturt’s Folly) is a seven story folly, built by Humphrey Sturt in 1726. At the time it was the tallest non-religious structure in Britain. It was built as a viewing platform from which to watch the local hunt, when Sturt was too old to ride. The tower is made of red brick, is 140 feet tall and has seven stories. Inside it is hexagonal all the way to the top, with rooms leading off to three sides. It originally had a round wooden dome as its roof.
I grew up in this area and used to visit this tower in my formative years. It’s not easy to find as, in order to discourage visitors to this peaceful village, there are no signposts to indicate its existence and nowhere to park a car nearby. Nevertheless, GPS satnav navigation does bring you to the correct unmarked entrance on the main road; after parking your car nearby you can access it via a track leading to its field.