THE ROAD SKATE Co
271 Oxford St. London W, England
The skates were marketed by The Road Skate Co of Oxford Street, London. The company also issued a booklet – free of charge – on ‘Road Skating’ which purports to give ‘every information on the subject.’ The design was unique to this style of skate. One of the company’s adverts proclaims:
Unlike other skates, the Ritter Road Skate has a hinged splint on either side of the leg, which in conjunction with the brake, entirely prevents any twisting or undue strain on the ankle joint. People with the weakest ankle may therefore use this skate, and derive great benefit from the exercise. It only requires a little practice on the new Ritter Road Skate to enable anyone who has never had on a pair of skates to attain proficiency, and be able to skate on the roads at any speed up to 16 miles an hour.
‘Road Skates’ were the ancestors of roller skates. They were invented by Mr. Ritter, a Swiss, who was foreman at the original Napier Works at Vine Street, Lambeth, London, where (later) the first Napier motor-cars were made. The Ritter skates were popular around 1897/ 1898, and several well-known cyclists, notably M. S. Napier, Walter Munn, and A. Hoffman, formed a club and skated on the road every week-end. When last heard of (1929) Mr. Ritter was in business as an engineer in Paris under the name of Ritter and Smith, 35 Rue Batignolles. (These premises are now occupied by a hair salon ‘Caroline Coiffure’).
H.W Bartleet says of the skates in his own collection:
No. 50. Pair of ‘Ritter’ road skates. Though strictly speaking, not qualifying for inclusion in a collection of cycles, these instruments of travel are very closely associated with cycling. The men who made them and the enthusiasts who used them were all cyclists, and, indeed, each skate is in reality a tiny bicycle.
These skates were invented by Mr. Ritter, a Swiss, who was foreman at the original Napier Works at Vine Street, Lambeth, London, where (later) the first Napier motor-cars were made. The Ritter skates were popular about 1898, and several well-known cyclists, notably Montague Napier, Walter Munn and A. Hoffman, formed a club and skated on the road every week-end.
When last heard of (1929) Mr. Ritter was in business as an engineer in Paris under the name of Ritter and Smith, 35 Rue Batignolles. The skates weigh 81 lbs. the pair. They were presented to the Collection by C. G. Bowtle, the well-known racing cyclist.
1896 Ritter Road Skates
Size 11 1/2
Ritter Road Skates were all the rage in the late 1890s. This pair of men’s Ritter Skates, size 11 1/2, have been recently serviced and are in good condition. They retain their original leather straps, but similar modern reproduction leather straps are obtainable if required.
Ritter Road Skates were not originally sold with boots, but I have added a suitable pair of brown leather boots, as seen here. This pair of historic road skates are to be sold with the boots illustrated, and also a copy of the famous Ritter Road Skates poster.
RITTER ROAD SKATES WITH BOOTS
Designed by Phillip Lockwood, Brighton Borough Surveyor, and completed in 1884, the Bandstand is considered to be one of the finest examples of a Victorian bandstand still surviving in England today.