1869 Velocipede by Gray & Co
40″ Front Wheel
Unique Ratchet Brake Mechanism
GRAY & Co,
1 Margaret St, Limehouse, London E.C
Manufacturers of ‘Excelsior’ boneshakers, at 1 Margaret Street, Limehouse, London. Machines were priced from £9-£11 according to front wheel size (28 in. to 48 in).
1869 was a momentous year for cycling. The new velocipede immediately caught the public imagination, and engineering works everywhere suddenly stopped making whatever they made before and re-tooled to become velocipede manufacturers. With so many companies jumping onto the velocipede bandwagon to cater to the new craze, manufacturing quality invariably suffered. Wholesale manufacturers Newton Wilson & Co, of 144 High Holborn therefore described the poorly made machines as ‘The Veriest Rubbish Conceivable.’
The popular press were quick to lampoon the new machines.
The steering head is well-detailed and still has the original leather washer that sits between the fork and frame (below)
The long spring that supports the saddle is fixed in place at the front with fixings of bronze and shaped like acorns (above and below).
The rear wheel has a oiler fixed directly into the hub; its screw-on lid is missing (below).
ST MARY’S COTTAGE
Southover St, Lewes, E. Sussex