Sunday 4 July 2010

From the archives: autowheels and adult trailers

It's Tour de France time! Just the moment to forget football and take another look at cycling accessories from 1914.

A friend has given me a fascinating book: Yesterday's Shopping, a reprint of the 1914 catalogue for department store Gamage's. The shop was particularly renowned for cycles and toys; it later even had a motoring department. Resisting the temptation to blog the whole catalogue right now, I'll just share a few highlights from the cycle section.

My personal favourite is 'the "Gamage" passenger trailer', which looks like a well-padded armchair on wheels. Amazingly, it's designed to be pulled by a pushbike - the catalogue claims, rather improbably, that 'although the addition of a passenger in a Trailer may be so much dead weight, yet the act of trailing does not call for so much work on the part of the rider as would appear at the first blush'. Hmm, still quite a lot of work, though, especially if you have the top of the range model:
Adult Trailer, in artistic cane work, Sheffield steel carriage springs, plated rims, detachable mudguards, patent Universal joint clip, with safety lock and any pneumatic tyres, including lunch and umbrella baskets .. .. .. £9 19 6
With all that dead weight to pull (not least the basket full of lunch), I'd recommend fitting your cycle with 'a self-propelling Wall Auto-wheel' made by BSA. It's an extra wheel with a 1-horse-power motor, which attaches to the rear bicycle wheel and is apparently recommended by Prince George of Battenberg and Prince Henry of Prussia. Running on petrol, it will let you travel over 100 miles without pedalling, at speeds of up to 16 miles an hour.

And don't leave baby behind, when you can put her in a 'Progress' child carrier which fits in front of the handlebars and, terrifyingly, 'Opens and Closes like a Pair of Scissors'. Apparently it offers 'Absolute Safety of Child'.

Well, I'm not sure about the auto-wheel, but I might just order an Adult Trailer. Time to pack a lunch and find a volunteer to pedal...

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