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Oxford Bus Museum

Bicycles celebrate 140 year anniversary in 2016

21 January 2016 00:00


The Oxford Bus Museum displays Bill Faulkner’s Collection of early bicycles and tricycles, which are on long term loan to the museum, as well as its better known collections of Vintage Buses and Morris Cars.

One of the tricycles is 140 years old in 2016. Most people are familiar with modern tricycles with a single wheel at the front and two at the rear. However this 1876 tricycle has two 40 inch front wheels and a smaller single trailing 21 inch wheel. The tricycle has front wheel drive with Rack and Pinion steering. It was probably a comfortable arrangement sporting a sprung saddle!

The most widely recognised example of a large front wheel and a small following wheel is the Penny-farthing which was called an “Ordinary” when it was invented around 1869. However its popular name was derived from the size of two coins then in wide circulation. The objective of the large front driving wheel was to increase the speed that could be achieved. The rider was high up in the air and if travelling at great speed he hit a bad spot in the road could easily be thrown over the front wheel. Two broken wrists were a common injury! The diameter of the front wheel was limited only by the inside leg of the rider!

The predecessor to the Penny-farthing was the Boneshaker bicycle,. It was developed about 1863 in France. The example in the Oxford Bus Museum is also celebrating its 140th birthday in 2016 and was manufactured by W Singleton in 1876. It has iron-rimmed wooden wheels which are again larger at the front with a 36 inch circumference compared to only 30 inches on the rear. There is a spoon brake on the rear wheel which is activated by twisting the handlebars so tightening the attached cable. Originally developed in France and this type of bicycle was called the “Velocipede”. The bicycle earned its nickname because of the ridged frame and iron-banded wheels that gave the rider a bone shaking experience.

Another interesting exhibit is the 1897 Ridge Companion Cycle for two. Today the usual tandem formation seen is with one rider behind the other, but in 1897 the riders sat side by side. Both sets of handle bars are connected to the front wheel for steering but only the offside rider can apply the brakes. This was a short lived idea, more of a novelty, which did not last long.

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Press Contacts

Chris Butterfield


Tel: 01296 337622


Frank Collingwood

Tel: 01993811003


About Oxford Bus Museum

The museum is located at the Rail Station Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire OX29 8LA and contains 35 vintages buses and coaches, the earliest dating from 1913, a collection of Morris cars dating from 1925 to 1977, a horse drawn tram and a collection of 40 mainly nineteenth century bicycles.

The museum is open between 10.30am and 4.30pm on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the year, on summer Saturdays and on Bank Holidays and New Year's Day but neither Christmas Day nor Boxing Day. There is a cafe and shop. The museum is run entirely by volunteers.

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