1900 Rudge Lady’s Tricycle

1900 Rudge Lady’s Tricycle

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I’ll add better photos and description of this rare 109-year-old tricycle next week

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HISTORY OF RUDGE-WHITWORTH

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Daniel Rudge 1841 – 1880

Daniel Rudge was born in January 1841. The Wolverhampton Census for 1841 lists Daniel Rudge as living with his family at Whalf Street, Wolverhampton. After serving with the 38th Regiment of Foot he returned to Wolverhampton and opened a public house called the Tiger Inn in Church Street near to St John’s Church. At the same time an army colleague Henry Clarke started a wheel building business called the Temple Street Wheel Works.

In 1865 Daniel married Mary Ann Clift at Darlington Street Methodist Church. They were to have three children, Miriam, Harry George and Frederick. Rudge, a skilled engineer, became interested in bicycles through his friend Walter Phillips who rode bicycles and Henry Clarke who in 1868 began the Cogent Cycle Company.

In 1869 Walter Phillips and George Price became interested in the new cycle industry. Price was primarily interested in the business end of cycle manufacture, whereas Phillips was interested in the actual making of cycles. The two realised that to successfully manufacture cycles they would need a skilled engineer to design and sort out any mechanical problems.

Daniel Rudge was approached about manufacturing a velocipede designed by Phillips. A deal was struck and Rudge was soon producing cycles in a small workshop located at the rear of the Tiger Inn, with Henry Clarke supplying the wheels. By the end of 1874 Daniel Rudge had manufactured a small number of high bicycles. His first machines were nothing out of the ordinary as they ran on regular plain bearings.

Around this time a Frenchman who had met Henry Clarke during his army service called on him riding a French velocipede. Both Daniel Rudge and Henry Clarke were taken on how the French velocipede ran with ease. They determined to find out the mechanical advantage of the French machine. It is said that that they got the Frenchman drunk; then they dismantled his machine to find that it ran on ball bearings instead of the more traditional plain bearings common on the cycles of the day.

By 1878 Rudge had established as a manufacturer of high quality bicycles. Never satisfied with other makers’ designs and construction Rudge invented numerous innovations. In 1878 Rudge took out British Patent No 526 for his adjustable ball bearings. These bearings were fitted to his high bicycles and improved their efficiency. Rudge cycles soon gained a reputation for fast starts and thus became extremely popular. Rudge machines were often handicapped 20 or 30yards behind other racers.

Because of this publicity the demand for Rudge cycles increased. Daniel Rudge visited the famous French cyclist Terront in his London hotel while on a visit to England. Rudge proceeded to demonstrate to Terront a set of his patent adjustable ball bearings. Terront was impressed enough to purchase a racing machine built by Rudge.

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Around 1884, manufacture had moved to Coventry. Daniel Rudge travelled to Paris and Lyons to observe the French cycling scene and to take part in some of the races. The company, now based in nearby Bishop Street, employed 100 employees.

The increased responsibility and various other cycle activities had a detrimental effect on Rudge’s health. In the early summer of 1880 Daniel Rudge fell ill for the last time. He died at a hospital for the terminally ill at 1 Cumberland Terrace, Ealing, London on 26th June 1880 of cancer at the age of 39.

Sales of Rudge cycles remained excellent for several months after his death, but with nobody to run the company the company seemed doomed. Rudge’s widow Mary with the assistance of Walter Phillips arranged the sale of the Rudge cycle concern to George Woodcock of Coventry. The sale arrangement included a cash sum plus a regular pension for Mary Rudge. In exchange Woodcock acquired the famous adjustable ball bearing patent 526 and the services of some of Rudge’s former employees.

Woodcock took the cycle company and merged it with The Tangent & Coventry Tricycle Company and formed D. Rudge & Co based in Coventry.

The company merged with Whitworth in 1894 to become Rudge-Whitworth Ltd. They remained one of Great Britain’s top bicycle manufacturers and, with the introduction of motorized machines, also became one of the country’s premier motorcycle manufacturers.

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RUDGE & WHITWORTH POSTERS from FRANCE

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