1879 Coventry Rotary Tricycle (2018 reproduction)
48″ Driving Wheel; 22″ Small Wheels
This is superb reproduction of an 1879 Coventry Rotary tricycle using a friend’s original example as a pattern. It was built by a master craftsman who made all the necessary tooling himself. He even made the chain and the saddle.
Some of my friends have bought originals over the years – at great expense – but I’ve noticed that their tricycles have had many of the components replaced with modern parts. So when my friend offered to build me one, I jumped at the chance. It is so well crafted that it would be hard to tell it from an original. At Beaulieu Autojumble in September, 2016, an identical model original Rotary Tricycle with many replacment parts sold for over £15,500, so I consider this reproduction version a very good investment.
It is excellent to ride, and i can see why Rudge developed it as a racing machine. The band brake is very efficient, and the steering handle turns both wheels so that it has a good turning circle.
THE GARDEN SEAT
Note the ‘garden’ seat in the picture above. With later models the purchaser was given the option of a seat or saddle. Ladies, of whom quite a number rode tricycles in the period 1876-1886, generally preferred the former.
THE RUDGE ROTARY
H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Alexandra, regularly used a Rudge Rotary tricycle, having a machine specially built with pneumatic tyres in the 1890s, long after the type had become obsolete.
You can see her ‘Rudge Rotary’ below. Whereas the orginal ‘Coventry Rotary’ had a straight horizontal main frame bar, the main frame bar on the later Rudge version curved down at the ends to accommodate smaller diamater wheels. This helped reduce the overall width by several inches so that the tricycle could fit within a standard width doorway to be stored inside.
[Alexandra of Denmark was Queen of the United Kingdom as the wife of King Edward VII – they married in 1863 and he became King in 1901]