Page:The Cycle Industry (1921).djvu/15

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THE CYCLE INDUSTRY




CHAPTER I

EARLY HISTORY AND ORIGIN OF THE BICYCLE


In this introductory chapter it is not proposed to deal with the forerunners of the bicycle, such as the hobby horse and some of the more weird wooden machines with four wheels and lever motion, which were known to be in existence before the introduction into this country of the bicycle propelled by cranks attached to the axle of the front wheel, called a velocipede.

We will therefore begin with the velocipede, a type of machine which first attracted the attention of a Mr. Turner, who saw it being ridden and exploited at a Paris school of gymnastics.

At this period in the history of bicycles, about 1868, the city of Coventry had established, by the enterprise of a few Coventry gentlemen, a factory for the production of sewing machines. The firm was known as the Coventry Sewing Machine Company (afterwards The Coventry Machinists Co.), and was founded to find employment for people in the city who had been thrown out of work by the fierce competition of the foreign ribbons and watches which were admitted into the country, either free of duty or on conditions which left very little profit for Coventry ribbon and watch makers. Mr. Turner, who was an agent for the firm, had been asked to look out for something in the mechanical line, suitable for manufacture at the

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