1897 Victorian Gentleman’s Tricycle – ‘Boadicea’
A tricycle such as this was a very expensive vehicle in its day. This one was built by a bespoke manufacturer using top quality components.
The overwhelming majority of 19th century tricycles surviving into the 21st century are lady’s ‘loop-frame’ models. This gent’s model is therefore very rare. It has undergone a first class professional restoration (the frame was stove enamelled) and is in excellent riding condition. A friend owned it for 20 years and, during that time, it was ridden over 1000 miles. I’ve ridden it myself, and it rides superbly. It’s so well built that I can see it surviving well beyond the 22nd century and covering thousands more miles.
What particularly attracts me to tricycles of this era is that they were manufactured at a time before cars dominated the roads. By 1897, Abingdon had perfected the design of rear axles, and all tricycles were fitted with them. The axle differential was a very important aspect of automobile development, so riding an 1897 tricycle feels like you’re in command of a vehicle that’s the closest thing to a car before cars came into proper production.
For the past twenty years, this tricycle has been known as Boadicea. She, of course, was a famous queen of England who, around 60AD, fought the Romans and kicked them out of Londinium.
At the time of the Roman conquest of southern Britain, Queen Boudicea ruled the Iceni tribe of East Anglia alongside her husband King Prasutagus. Boudicea was a striking looking woman: ‘She was very tall, the glance of her eye most fierce; her voice harsh. A great mass of the reddest hair fell down to her hips. Her appearance was terrifying.’
Though I wouldn’t describe this tricycle as ‘terrifying’ it certainly is a striking vehicle. As the previous owner lives in Queen Boadicea’s old kingdom and she favoured a chariot to ride into her battles, I can understand how this machine came to be known by this name. It certainly lives up to its famous predecessor. The image above is an Edwardian stained glass impression of her in Colchester Town Hall. I intended to take a photo of it and use the image to have a head-badge made for the tricycle.
1897 HUMBER ‘MODEL F’ TRICYCLE
Humber was the leading tricycle manufacturer and market leader of the time, and this tricycle is styled after their Model F.
The illustration above shows the machine built for the Shahzada of Afghanistan in 1898, and the pictures below are from the 1896 Humber catalogue.