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All colours of the rainbow, including black and gold: making and selling bicycles in Ireland in the 1880s and 1890s

Griffin, B (2013) 'All colours of the rainbow, including black and gold: making and selling bicycles in Ireland in the 1880s and 1890s.' Irish Historical Studies, 38 (152). pp. 620-642. ISSN 0021-1214

Abstract

In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, cycling in Ireland progressed from being a relatively exclusive pursuit, confined mainly to young, middleclass men, to a popular sport and pastime which appealed alike to young, middleaged and elderly members of the middle class, including large numbers of women. At the beginning of the 1880s, most Irish cyclists were young men who rode the high-wheeled ‘Ordinary’ or ‘Penny-farthing’ machine. The introduction of the more cumbersome, but easily mountable, tricycle meant that in the early to mid-1880s cycling became accessible to older or more timid men than those who braved the Ordinary machine, and many women also took to the roads on the tricycle. The pastime also received a boost later in the decade, with the invention of the chain-driven ‘safety’ bicycle in the mid-1880s. The safety bicycle did not render the Ordinary obsolete until after the development of the pneumatic tyre, by John Boyd Dunlop, in 1888. Once it became apparent in a number of cycling races in Ireland and England in 1889 and 1890 that the chain-driven and pneumatic-tyred safety bicycle was both quicker and easier to ride than the Ordinary bicycle, the latter's days were numbered. From 1890 onwards, bicycle dealers in both countries were inundated with requests for pneumatic-tyred safety bicycles, and in the course of the 1890s cycling was transformed into a popular, albeit still mainly middle-class activity, that appealed to both sexes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

'Irish Historical Studies', founded in 1938, is the joint journal of the Irish Historical Society and the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies.

Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2013 11:28
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 13:28
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/1633
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