The Bike’s History
Two of my passions collided as last month I went to Wythall Transport museum on behalf on Central England Co-op to celebrate Co-op Heritage weekend. The part that most interested me was that a bike that was approximately 100 years old was being given to the museum on a long lease. The bike had a fascinating history. It was manufactured by the Co-operative Wholesale Society at Kings Road in Tyseley, Birmingham. The Ten Acres and Stirchley Society used this model of bike to perform deliveries across South Birmingham. Unfortunately and predictably the bike went out of use. It was rescued by a shop manage who made it rideable once more. The Co-op History Bike took hold of it in the 1990’s and took it to Stirchley Bike Foundry to once again make it rideable. The bike had sat unridden for many years. Donating the bike on a long lease to the Wythall Transport Museum.
The bike was just about in a rideable condition. The tyres were flat, but I was able to ride it around the outside of the museum. It is amazing how little bicycle design has changed in the approximately 100 years since this bike was constructed. It had a wide saddle for comfort and a heavy steel frame that is not dissimilar to Dutch style town bikes today. The bike was incredibly heavy and the brakes were not reliable, but with another good service this bike could be used on routes like the wonderful A38 and A38 blue route. I wouldn’t want to use it on hilly roads though as I’ve already mentioned it weighs a lot.
A bonus cargo delivery bike
On a side note there was another cargo bike that was already in the museum. I’ve been told that the bike was used the 1930’s and 1940’s by farm dairyman Telling of Siddington near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. This cargo bike was manufactured by Hercules Cycle and Motor Company of Highgate Birmingham and the Saddle was made by Brooks based in Smethwick. It was found by a Birmingham Co-op History member in the 1990’s and donated to the Wythall Transport Museum, who gave it a make over with new tyres, a new paint job along with new lettering. It was used to deliver, cream butter and eggs twice daily. We’re now realising how useful cargo bikes are for delivery once more. Cargo bikes are far more versatile than vans, much cheaper and environmentally friendly. The beware electric vehicles sign next to the bike is very apt. Electric cars won’t save us from the Climate Emergency, but Cargo Bikes can play a significant part in transporting small goods.
Extra bonus bus
Also it is worth mentioning that the Wythall Transport Museum primarily is a bus museum. It documents how busses came in and out of fashion, due to car dominance. I saw the blue and grey buses that I used to get as a child. The number 2 Buzz was what I used to get around South East Birmingham most. Some haphazard research tells me these busses were Rapido West Midlands Travel Leyland busses.