One of the most stylish and widely-appreciated Lady’s Bicycles on the market. It is light in weight with the highest possible finish and equipment. No expense has been spared in designing and producing it, the one idea, which we have successfully achieved, having been to produce a really perfect Lady’s Bicycle combining perfection in every detail, with elegance, easy running and extreme durability.
– 1909 Rudge-Whitworth catalogue description
1909 Rudge-Whitworth No 23 Special Lady’s Bicycle
Frame No 508151
Number 43 in ‘The Raleigh Collection’
This Rudge-Whitworth formed part of the the original ‘Raleigh Collection’ which was owned by the Raleigh Cycle Co until their demise in the 1980s.
That collection otherwise comprised Raleigh machines, and this particular cycle is believed to have been retained as part of the collection because it was the personal bicycle of one of the Bowden family.
It’s remarkably well-preserved, and in totally original unrestored condition.
THE RALEIGH COLLECTION
This bicycle was once part of the ‘Raleigh Collection,’ a private museum owned by T.I Raleigh Industries Ltd. You can see its marker attached to the front of the bicycle, below.
This Rudge was No 43 in the Collection.
When the company went out of business in 1999, part of the collection was sold at auction, and the rest became part of the Raleigh Exhibition at Brooklands. I parked this Rudge-Whitworth in front of Brooklands Museum Raleigh display when I visited recently.
Below, you can see the front entrance to the shed hosting the Raleigh Collection.
RUDGE WHITWORTH FREE WHEEL CLUTCH
CYCLING MAGAZINE, 27th May, 1908:
‘WELL-KNOWN ACTRESSES WHO CYCLE’