The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : Road Rail and River

Bicycles
Bicycles were not popular until the invention of the 'bone-shaker'

A cycle meet in Bushy Park in 1878

Until the early 1870s the wooden ‘bone-shaker’ with iron rims, reacted to every bump in the road; so bicycles were not popular. The arrival of the ‘ordinary’ bicycle with its steel wheels and solid rubber tyres, or ‘penny farthing’ offered improvements. Thus cycling became widespread, not just as a means of transport, but also as a sport.

Early bicyclists in Hampton Court Road in the 1880s

There was an organised event, known as the Hampton Court Great Bicycle Meet between 1874 and 1886. The participants mostly rode ‘penny farthings’ in the early years, and included tricycles from 1880. At the final meeting there was even one four-wheeler carrying three riders. Some riders even tried carrying their bicycles past the toll-keeper on Hampton Court Brid ge to pay the reduced half-penny toll for pedestrians rather than the penny required for vehicles. They were not successful.

Delivery bicycle at Dunn the butcher, Stanley Road, Teddington in 1910

In 1897 George Jenner Kingsbury established a small bicycle factory and repairs service in High Street, Hampton. By 1902 he had made his first motor cycle with a 2 horsepower Minerva engine. Later the business turned to motorcars and it still trades today as G Kingsbury & Son in Station Road. In about 1920 in Twickenham, a witness noted that “Mr Tamplin had a small wooden structure where he mended bicycles.” He went on to say “I never remember seeing any new ones on view, but he would always get one. Later he opened, with his son, the car showrooms in York Street.”

Twickenham Cycling Club in about 1910

By the 1930s, exploring the countryside by bicycle had become a popular leisure pursuit. However, the decades following the Second World War saw a dramatic fall in bicycle use because of the growth in car ownership. It is only in recent years that steps have been taken to encourage cycling, with networks of cycle lanes at the sides of highways.

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