1908 Royal Lincoln Stonebow


1908 Royal Lincoln Stonebow

(R.M. Wright & Co, Lincoln)

(Now sold)


This Royal Lincoln bicycle was in the British Cycling Museum in Camelford, Cornwall, for many years. After the collection was sold, I purchased it from the new owner. I’ve not seen another of this marque.

This bicycle is extremely rare, but its saddle is even rarer (see further down the page).

The paintwork is in good original condition, with its box lining intact and the ROYAL LINCOLN name still showing.


Magistrates fined a Lincoln garage boss £1 after he admitted speeding – at 6mph.

R.M. Wright was driving his car around the Guildhall Street and High Street corner when he was stopped by police and charged with dangerous driving.

Wright, who owns a Lincoln car dealership, admitted he had been travelling at 6mph – well within the 14mph speed limit.

But magistrates thought that was too fast.


Guildhall St, Lincoln

‘Located in Guildhall St, Lincoln in 1898 and maker of the Stonebow. In 1905 Kelly’s Directory listed at Newland, Lincs.’ *

R.M. Wright was the pseudonym of Albert George Dykes, used in his cycling racing career as his family did not approve of his activities. He is recorded as receiving a 56 inch Humber Racing Ordinary in 1889, specially built under the personal supervision of Thomas Humber: He went on to win many prizes on this machine.

As well as racing, Dykes also sold bicycles, his well-known brand name being The Stonebow, named after Lincoln’s famous landmark situated outside his premises at the junction of Guildhall St and High St.

Like many other cycle manufacturers, he was fascinated by motorized transport and, though it was still in its earliest days, he foresaw the potential of the automobile industry. During 1900-1901 he marketed the Stonebow ‘dogcart’ cyclecar, which was manufactured by Payne & Bates of Foleshill Road, Coventry, and was fitted with an Aster single-cylinder 5 hp engine.

‘Walter Payne had begun a business in Coventry in 1890 as an Engine Maker, funded largely by George Bates. Known as the Godiva Engineering Company, by 1895, Payne had developed what is thought to have been one of the first petrol engines in Coventry, at a time when motorised transport was becoming ever-more developed on the continent. Around 1898, Walter Payne, together with his brothers and Henry Bates, developed a car based on the Benz model, not long after the Daimler Co. had begun mass marketing cars in Coventry. By 1900 they had progressed to assemble both a car and motorcycle known as the ‘Godiva’ under the guise of Payne & Bates Ltd. Soon afterwards, they were financed to build other cars known as the ‘Shamrock’ and ‘Stonebow’, yet all these projects were short-lived after the tragic death of George Bates in 1901.’ **

You can see the only remaining 1900 Stonebow Dogcart Cyclecar below, in the 2002 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

The following two reports are from the National Cycle Show, Crystal Palace, London, 23rd November to Saturday 1st December 1900:

‘R. M. WRIGHT AND CO. The five horse-power “Stonebow” car of this firm, which we illustrated and described in August, will make its first appearance in the exhibition. Since we last dealt with it, it has had a considerable number of improvements made in it. The firm will also have a voiturette with a four and a half horse-power engine, with pedal clutch control and wheel steering.’

‘R. M. WRIGHT AND CO., Lincoln, have their Stonebow motor dogcart, driven by a five horsepower water-cooled horizontal engine, with 5.5in stroke and 5in. bore, set at the rear of the car. The special features with regard to this engine, which is of English manufacture throughout, are the arrangements of the induction and exhaust valves on the upper side of the cylinder and the getatability of these valves by simply removing the front Heat. The half time shaft is carried across the top of the crank chamber, and on it are set the cams actuating the exhaust valves and the electric ignition, and the chain pinion carrying a chain driven and semi-rotary pump for the water circulation. The engine has three speeds and reverse, the first speed and the reverse being obtained through Crypto gear. The engine is started from the rear of the car. The five-gallon water tank and four-gallon petrol tank, sufficient for a run of 150 miles, are set below a false motor bonnet on the front of the car. Wheel steering is fitted with the necessary belt striking levers set below the wheel on the right side of steering standard, and the Crypto hand lever on the left. One band brake on the countershaft, pedal actuated, and Price’s tyre brakes, applied by lever at the side of the car to the driving wheels, are fitted. The rear portion of the body from the back portion of the footboard is removable by releasing four nuts only, so that every portion of the driving mechanism can then be got at without difficulty. It should be said that the radiators are carried below the footboard. The speeds obtainable are four, eight, and sixteen miles per hour. The car is nicely finished and upholstered. Clincher pneumatic tyres, 2.5in. and 3.5in., are fitted on strong cycle built wheels, with ball bearings.’ ***

[Autocar magazine, 24th November; 1st and 8th December 1900]



One of the features of this bicycle is the Gough & Co ornate lady’s saddle.

This is one of the rarer models of special lady’s saddle that were popular at the time.

The year ‘1908’ is engraved into the top of the saddle.

Dating a saddle so prominently guarantees to make it outdated very fast – who would want a 1908 saddle the following year? It is therefore extremely rare now, over a century later. In fact, it’s probably the only one still in existence.


High Street, Lincoln, England

The Stonebow stands at the top of the High Street, where the Roman gateway to the south of the city once stood. In its present form, the Stonebow was built in the early 1500s and is a great display of Tudor craftsmanship. The bell in the roof of the building has been dated to the 1371, and is rung only for the traditional occasion of calling Lincoln’s Councillors to their meetings that take place in the chambers above the archway.

CHARLESTON: An artists home and garden

The location for these photos is Charleston. It was the country home of the Bloomsbury Group, which became a unique example of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s decorative style within a domestic context and represents the fruition of over sixty years of artistic creativity. Vanessa Bell wrote of this time; ‘It will be an odd life, but…it ought to be a good one for painting.’

In 1916 the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved to Sussex with their unconventional household. Over the following half century Charleston became the country meeting place for the group of artists, writers and intellectuals known as Bloomsbury. Clive Bell, David Garnett and Maynard Keynes lived at Charleston for considerable periods; Virginia and Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry were frequent visitors. Inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists, the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture at Charleston. The walled garden was redesigned in a style reminiscent of southern Europe, with mosaics, box hedges, gravel pathways and ponds, but with a touch of Bloomsbury humour in the placing of the statuary.

‘It’s most lovely, very solid and simple, with…perfectly flat windows and wonderful tiled roofs. The pond is most beautiful, with a willow at one side and a stone or flint wall edging it all round the garden part, and a little lawn sloping down to it, with formal bushes on it.’ Vanessa Bell.

What could be a better backdrop for a well-preserved 90-year-old lady’s bicycle? Thanks to its dedicated group of volunteers, Charleston is also wonderfully preserved. It’s one of our favourite places to visit.

To step out of the 21st century for an hour and soak up a calmness created here by a group of artistic folk so many years ago is the very essence of time-travel.

It’s open from April each year and I thoroughly recommend a visit.

To see the Charleston website



* This information from Encyclopaedia of Cycle Manufacturers, 2nd Edition (P.332) by Ray Miller. (Available from the Veteran Cycle Club)

** This information from http://wiki.transport-museum.com/(S(lwqlfd552dbqqlyzuldggs45))/Default.aspx?Page=Payne%20and%20Bates%20&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

*** This information (plus adverts for R.M. Wright and Humber Ordinary) from http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/wiki/R._M._Wright_and_Co