The History of Charlbury through ..... the penny farthing bicycle
One of the most eye-catching items in the museum is a penny farthing bicycle, once owned by Fred Gardiner. He used to ride it regularly to Banbury, 15 miles up and down the hills. It must have caused quite a stir in Charlbury!
The penny farthing was not an easy ride. The large front wheel enabled it to go much faster than earlier bicycles and gave a better ride over rough ground. However it was difficult to mount and dismount and woe betide you if you fell off! It was popular among young men who began to cycle purely for sport. The name arose from the British penny and farthing coins – the side view of the bicycle looks like a penny leading the smaller farthing.
The heydays of the penny-farthing were the 1870s and the 1880s. The ‘high wheel’, first invented in France in 1870, was taken up and developed by others, including James Starley who was foreman of The Coventry Machinists Company, the first company in Britain to mass-produce bicycles.
Want to know more about bicycles? Visit www.cyclemuseum.org.uk
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