After absorbing George Townsend, the Eadie Mfg Co had the facilities to establish themselves as cycle manufacturers. As well as selling components as Eadie Mfg Co, they marketed complete machines under their own and, later, the Royal Enfield name.
Customers could either buy a complete bicycle from the Eadie Mfg Co (as above), or a local builder could buy the components through the trade to create a bespoke machine for a customer. The latter option was cheaper and, as it provided the same top quality parts, it was a much more popular choice. As you can see in the photo below, many local shops were founded and functioned on that basis.
The bicycle featured here is a rare Eadie Fittings Machine; many of its components have the Eadie name stamped in. It’s an older restoration, with some paint chips from use, but still in very good overall condition and ready to ride. The Eadie Eccentric Chain Adjusters, Bowden cable brake with its original lever, and the handlebar grips are outstanding features.
1899 Eadie Fittings Road Racer
Sloping Top Tube with 1″ Drop
(Standover height 37″ – 36″)
Bowden Cable Brake & Patent Lever
Bowden Front Rim Brake with Pull-up Lever
Brooks ‘Model B1’ Saddle
Celluloid Handlebar Grips
By 1899, Eadie Fittings had become a dominant component supplier, with many of their own and licensed patents, and more of their parts were now marked with their name. This Road Racer is particularly interesting because, among its various interesting features, are many named Eadie components (eg head, chain adjusters, pedal cranks, rear hub). I’ve not yet discovered who made the uniquely styled celluloid handlebar grips. Fittings Machines are generally hard to identify, but observing the parts on this bicycle can help provide a greater understanding of them.
The open fork crown on this bicycle is from 1898; they introduced an enclosed pattern in 1899. The chainwheel is the 1897 pattern. It’s a freewheel (which came onto the market in 1898). Eadie Eccentric Chain Adjusters (see photo below) were introduced in 1897. The Bowden rear cable brake was patented in 1896, and still in use a decade later. The rim brake (on the front) with pull-up lever is marked ‘Bowden’, but appears to be a practical later addition. The head and steering lock is from Smiths Patents Ltd, of 252-4 Borough High Street, London, sold under license by Eadie Mfg Co.
While using their latest components on their own Eadie and, subsequently, Royal Enfield bicycles, suppliers such as Eadie offered their previous years’ fittings at discount prices through the cycle trade. That way, the cheaper bicycles built of their fittings did not directly compete with their own complete machines. This does mean that it can be hard to accurately calculate the age of a Fittings Machine. From its parts and its style, I assume this example to be from 1898 or 1899.
BOWDEN CABLE BRAKE
Below, you can see the bolt-on support for a rear mudguard. This shows that mudguards would be an after-market fitting, hence it was originally supplied as a road racer, without mudguards. Its top tube has a one inch drop.
SMITHS PATENT HEAD & LOCK
EADIE MFG CO
The company was acquired by Albert Eadie (who died 17 Apr. 1931) with other businessmen in November 1891 by the acquisition of George Townsend, & Co.
Eadie obtained the services of Robert Walker Smith, formerly of Daniel Rudge & Co, where he had been assistant manager, and now became works manager. Production continued at the Townsend premises at Givry Works, Hunt End, Redditch although the ‘Ecossais’ name was dropped and the model name ‘Enfield’ was first used from October 1892.
A new factory was laid down in 1896 at Lodge Road and Union Street, Redditch. On 25 June 1896 the company became the New Eadie Manufacting Co. Ltd and continued to make both components and complete machines, primarily for the trade. Eadie also formed the New Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd on 1 July 1896. The Eadie company marketed an eccentric chain adjuster in 1897 which others copied.
The American ‘Morrow’ free wheel was made under licence from 1899.
A cross and drop-frame machine was made from c.1901. The cross-frame had struts to the chainstays, similar to the Royal Enfield, and was probably the first with this design. In 1901 the New Beeston Cycle Co became defunct and the Eadie Manufacturing Co acquired the machinery to increase production of free wheels under licence from the James Cycle Co. Ltd.
A double cross frame was produced in 1901 which provided a very stiff mounting for the bracket. The ‘Fagan’ 2-speed hub was made under licence from 1903. The Eadie 2-speed coaster hub was made from 1905. The Eadie company was acquired by the Birmingham Small Arms Co. Ltd (BSA) in 1907.