Acme, Allen, Antelope, Bamboo, Bates, Beau Ideal, Beaumont, Bullock, Champion, Comrade,
Commercial, Connaught,
Cunard, Curret, Cyverite, Dart


The Acme Cycle Company

The Acme Cycle Company was located in St. James' Street and Walsall Street.


Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.


Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.


Allen


An advert from 1884.


Antelope


 


The Bamboo Cycle Company

The Bamboo Cycle Company of Holbourne, London, had its works in Petit Street, off Pountney Street, Wolverhampton. Their machines initially had frames made of bamboo because it was very strong, lightweight and free from corrosion. In practice steel proved to be a much better material for the purpose and so only a few real bamboo bikes were made.


   An 1895 Bamboo Cycle. Courtesy of the late
   Jim Boulton.

Later models were made of steel that was disguised to look like bamboo. The bicycles were fitted with the patent 'Doolittle' back pedalling brake and an automatically adjustable handlebar. The machines were only in production for a few years and it is thought that only small numbers were made. The company also had premises in Thomas Street.
In their 1897 catalogue the company listed a 'Special Racer' that weighed only 25lbs. This was presumably due to the bamboo frame.
A Bamboo cycle on display at the National Cycle Collection at Llandrindod Wells.
The lady's Bamboo cycle from the National Cycle Collection at Llandrindod Wells.


Joseph Bates

Joseph Bates of Scarboro Works, Temple Street, produced a wide range of products including safety bicycles and tricycles. Other products included locks, hinges and handles, many of which would have been cast in the company's own brass foundry. Nickel plating and japanning were also undertaken.

This advert from Hulley's Directory of 1889, shows some of the company's products. The safety bicycles were priced from £13 and the tricycles started at £27.

By 1889 dwarf safety cycles dominated the market, about 90 percent of all the machines produced were of this type and they were rapidly increasing in popularity. The divided (or braced) diamond pattern frame had more or less superseded the old-fashioned skeleton diamond frame and improved methods of chain adjustment were being developed. Joseph Bates' machines took full advantage of the latest developments, as can be seen from entries in "Bicycles & Tricycles of the Year 1889" by Harry Hewitt Griffin.

Two Bates' dwarf safety’s were available at the time. The first, 'The Swallow Dwarf Safety Roadster', had a very light diamond-frame with the upper and lower tubes running to the top and bottom of the long centres. The steering-rod was brought back to the rider in a bold, sweeping curve, and ‘T’ handles were fitted as standard. Either tangential or direct spokes could be fitted to order and 0.75 inch tyres were fitted to the 30 inch wheels. The well-made machine included a powerful direct plunger brake and ball bearings on both wheels. The machine sold for £15.16s.6d. or £16.16s.6d. with hollow rims.

The second machine, 'The Torpedo Dwarf Safety Semi-Racer' had an open diamond frame with a central stay and curved front forks, consisting of round tubes running through a square bridge at the top. The handlebar was of a cow horn shape, and adjustments to the chain could be made chain from the rear fork ends. 30 inch wheels were fitted as standard with 0.5 inch rubber felloes and ball bearings. The lightweight machine sold for £15.

A ladies tricycle was also available in the form of 'The Phono Lady's Direct Steering Roadster'. The machine featured a more or less straight connecting frame between the centres, with only a slight dip. An adjustable stay connected the top of the perpendicular seat-pillar and centres, and this could be dropped from the front and bolted to a lug at the lowest part of the frame. The fixed curved stay behind the seat-pillar was of light construction and the crank bracket could be drawn forward by a set screw and a hinged ‘Y’ joint. Light tangent spokes were fitted to the wheels, which had hollow rims and ball bearings. Well positioned ‘T’ handles were fitted along with foot rests, dress chain guard, and a direct brake. The machine sold for £23.13s.


Beau Ideal

Beau Ideal was founded by Mr. Charles Richards, in 1880. The works were in Frederick Street, Heath Town, and the extensive showrooms were at Gresham Chambers in Lichfield Street. The company produced large numbers of bicycles, and a few motorcycles. One unusual product was a bicycle that could be ridden by both sexes. Its crossbar could be lowered so that it could be ridden by ladies.

Part of the machine shop at the works.


A photograph from the 1902 Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition Souvenir booklet.

Wheel balancing at the works.


A photograph from the 1902 Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition Souvenir booklet.

Part of the assembly shop.


A photograph from the 1902 Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition Souvenir booklet.

Final assembly.


A photograph from the 1902 Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition Souvenir booklet.

The following description is from the 1897 edition of the "Illustrated Towns of England Business Review of Wolverhampton".

Richards' Beau Ideal Cycle Company Limited

With the progress and development of the cycle industry, Wolverhampton is eminently distinguished, and a house to whom the town owes much of its distinction in this line is that carried on under the style of Richards' Beau Ideal Cycle Company, Limited, of Frederick Street, Heath Town. This business was founded by Mr. C. Richards, in the year 1880 Its progress during this period has been remarkable, and its operations have been attended by the greatest and most gratifying success.

The premises utilised at the address named are very extensive, built upon the latest and most approved principles, and comprise one of the most convenient and perfect works for economical production. Employment is found for a very large number of skilled operatives, and the system of supervision which pervades each department is most conducive to the production of the best class of work. This firm has introduced many improvements in cycles, and their "Beau Ideal" is now regarded as one of the most perfect and up-to-date machines manufactured.

It should be mentioned that the local showroom of this house is at Theatre Buildings, Lichfield Street, where a very attractive display is made, and as regards prices and terms, certainly no similar house offers better advantages to all classes of buyers. Another noteworthy feature is the promptitude with which all orders are executed, and it is obvious that no effort is spared in any direction by the management, to sustain the high reputation gained. The telegraphic address is "Wheels", Wolverhampton, and the telephone Nos. 7115 and 7169, for works and showrooms respectively.

An advert from the 1902 Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition Souvenir booklet.


An advert from 1908.


The Beaumont Cycle Company

The following description is from the 1897 edition of the "Illustrated Towns of England Business Review of Wolverhampton".

The Beaumont Cycle Company has been established in Wolverhampton about six years, and in this comparatively short period of time, has made astonishing progress, in so much that recently extensions have been made to their works, and increased plant and machinery laid down to enable the firm to meet the increased demand. The premises utilised are located in Cleveland Road and Vane Street, and comprise a good-sized works, well-equipped with the very latest machinery and other appliances to attain the best results, and every convenience is possessed to meet the requirements of the business.

The machines manufactured by the Beaumont Cycle Company are known throughout the country for their high-class qualities, and numerous voluntary testimonials have been received by the firm from professional and amateur cyclists, who regard the “Beaumont” as unsurpassed in lightness, strength, and speed.

In addition to the cycles made for gent’s and ladies, the firm have produced machines specially adapted for youthful riders of either sex, and constructed with the latest improvements. The Beaumont “Roadster” is a remarkably taking machine, the frame is of genuine weldless steel tubes, with ‘D’ section back stays, high tension, tangent and part-plated spokes, cork or felt handles, rat trap or rubber pedals, Brampton’s No. 56 saddle, and hardened steel link chain, detachable brake and mudguards, wheels, 28in. or to order, finished in brilliant black enamel, and usual parts heavily plated, weight, 32lbs.

The firm are equally successful in ladies machines, and never fail to give satisfaction to their patrons. A considerable number of hands are employed, and the enterprise is conducted upon lines that reflect the highest credit on the firm, who are to be congratulated upon their eminent success.


Bullock

The Diamond 'Swan' No.3 that sold for £14.10s. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.


 


Champion


Comrade


An advert from 1963.

Simeon Taylor had a shop at 76 Pinfold Street, Darlaston, where he sold sports goods, and repaired bicycles at the back. He suffered from hearing difficulties and so his wife helped in the business.

The Taylor family lived upstairs above the shop and had several children. Simeon built a workshop and started to assemble bicycles.

Sometime later Simeon purchased an old nut and bolt factory on The Leys, in between Alma Street and Stafford Road, in which to manufacture bicycles and tricycles. The factory was previously occupied by David Harper & Sons

It became a family business. Simeon's daughter Florence, sons Jack and Richard, grandsons John and Philip, and granddaughter Lynda also worked at the factory.

They became well known for their high standard of craftsmanship. Simeon died in 1960 after a long illness. By this time half of the company's products were exported, and many competitors had ceased to trade because of cheap foreign competition.
Comrade went on to become the largest independent cycle manufacturer in the country. The company was hit by the recession in the late 1970s and 1980s, and moved to new premises near the Bull Stake.

Unfortunately it all came to an end in 1987 because of the continuing recession, and the large number of cheap foreign imports that flooded the market.


Brazing bicycle frames at Comrade Cycles in the 1960s.


Finishing-off Comrade bicycle frames prior to painting.


Commercial

The following description is taken from "Sturmey's Indispensable Handbook to the Safety Bicycle, Treating of Safety Bicycles, Their Varieties, Construction & Use" by Henry Sturmey, published in 1885:

A. Robinson & Co., Albert Place, Hospital Street, Wolverhampton.
Description.
in. and ¾in. moulded red tyres. Crescent rims. No. 11 direct spokes. 4in. G.M. hubs, 11in. axle. Cranks, 5½in. to 6½in. throw. Rat-trap plain pedals. 36in. driving wheel, geared to 54in., 18in. back wheel. Front wheel drives with chain gear. Long plain bearings to crank wheels. Reynolds' chains. Slotted adjustment. Plain bearings to driving wheel, cones to back. Steering like ordinary bicycle. Forks pass through bearings. 1½in. rake. Hol1ow front and semi-hollow back forks. Stanley head. Pear-shaped horn handles, 28in. cow-horn bars. 1in. weldless steel backbone. Humber coil spring. Suspension saddle. Saw step. D.L.S. brake. Mud-guard. Spanners, oilcan, lamp, and bell. Weight 38lbs. Price. £12. Sent out with bright handle-bar, head, hubs, cranks, and spokes, rest painted in colours.


Connaught

Connaught cycles were founded by Edwin John Sharratt sometime after his partnership with Edward Lisle ended in 1879. Edwin Sharratt was born in 1852 and grew up in his mother Sarah's shop at 15 Franchise Street. In the 1871 census he is described as an unemployed coachman.

Edwin purchased the ex-Humber factory in Pountney Street and joined Edward Lisle in the new business called Sharratt and Lisle, they also had premises in Stewart Street. It seems that Edwin had no previous experience in manufacturing or mechanics and so that side of the business must have been left to Edward.

The Stewart Street works were purchased from Hinde, Harrington & Co. who produced 'Desideratum' bicycles. In 1879 Sharratt decided that he did not want to follow the same business path as Lisle and left the partnership to start his own separate business, Sharratt and Co.

He produced bicycles using the Connaught trade name and joined forces with a Mr. Parker. The company went into liquidation in 1895 with debts of over £800. Both firms still used the Pountney Street works, but whether they were in separate buildings or had split one building between them is not known.


Cunard

Cunard bicycles and tricycles were made by Frank Gibbons at St. John's Works. A wide range of machines were produced including tandems. The advantages claimed for the company's tandems included an even distribution of weight between the wheels in a single or double form. The machines were easily convertible to singles or a third seat for a child could be added. The width could be easily reduced to 27 inches by removing a fly nut so that the machine could pass through a narrow doorway.
The company had sale rooms at 79 Chancery Lane, London and its products were available at the City Cycle Company, 62 Bridge Street, Manchester.

The Cunard Gripper. It was claimed to be the best machine of the type to be produced and had either a 20", 24" or 26" front wheel. It was fitted with the company's patent folding handle bar.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The Cunard Tandem. Courtesy of the late
Jim Boulton.
The Cunard patent tandem connection.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The Cunard No.1. This was fitted with Gibbon's automatic steering which prevented the swerving that was often a problem on this type of machine. It also relieved the arms of all strain.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The Cunard Convertible Tandem.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.


Curret

The following description is taken from "Sturmey's Indispensable Handbook to the Safety Bicycle, Treating of Safety Bicycles, Their Varieties, Construction & Use" by Henry Sturmey, published in 1885:

Wolverhampton Manufacturing Co., Oxley Street, Wolverhampton.
Description.
¾in. moulded red tyres. Warwick's rims. 60 and 20 No. 12 direct spokes. Bown's ball bearing hubs. Detachable cranks, 5½in. throw. Rat-trap coned pedals. 36in. driving wheel, geared to 54in., 16in. back wheel. Front wheel drives with chain gear. Bown's double ball bearings to crank
wheels. Morgan's chains. Bolt and slide adjustment. Aeolus ball bearings to both wheels. Steering like ordinary bicycle. Forks pass through bearings. Hollow forks. Stanley head, 4in. centres. Pear-shaped horn handles, 30in. cow-horn bars. 1in. steel backbone. Bolted sliding spring. Suspension
saddle. Saw step. D.L.S. brake. Leg-guard. Valise, spanners, oilcan and lamp. Weight 431bs.
Price. £14. Sent out with plated handle-bar, head, hubs and cranks, rest enamelled black.
Remarks. A machine on the lines of the Rudge.


Cyverite


An advert from 1899 for Cyverite Cycles, made in Walsall.


The Dart

William Mansell founded the Dart Cycle Works at his shop premises at 24 Bilston Street. Little is known about the company or its products.


Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

Photographic goods and cycles were on sale in the shop and cycles, electrical goods, watches, clocks and radios were repaired there. Films were also developed and printed on the premises.


Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.


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