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Object of the Fortnight - 1888 Rover Safety Cycle

30 September 2010

Welcome to the very first of our new fortnightly series - Object of the Fortnight!

Every two weeks our Collections team will choose one of their favourite objects from the collection to feature - you will be able to read a short description of the item and its story, see photographs of it, and even discuss the item on the Museum's Facebook page.  We hope you enjoy these articles, and do let us know if there's a particular item you'd love to see featured, and we will see what we can do.

Our first Object of the Fortnight is one of our favourite pieces from the Museum, the Rover 1888 Safety Cycle

We've chosen this bicycle because we showcased it at last weekend's Festival of Invention in Coventry City Centre  and passers-by were completely captivated when they heard the extraordinary story of this little old bicycle...

The Rover 1888 Safety Bicycle

This inconspicuous looking black bicycle may not look like very much to write home about, and you may well walk past it in the Museum without paying it any attention - but you would be wrong to do so.

In fact this rather normal looking bicycle is one of the most important items in the Museum's collection, and the reason is it so significant is precisely because it looks so ordinary to the 21st century eye.

This was essentially the world's first 'modern' bicycle - it was the first to use the diamond-shaped frame design which has been copied on bicycles ever since - and it was designed and built by John Kemp Starley (nephew of the famous James Starley), right here in Coventry.

Look out for it in the Introductory Gallery next time you visit the Museum - check out the solid rubber tyres (the pneumatic tyre was actually invented the same year as this bicycle was made, but didn't go into production until a year later at the Dunlop tyre factors in Coventry), and the original Rover badge including the company's address - West Orchards - round about where Debenhams now lives!

To discuss the Rover Safety Cycle, you can go to its Facebook page.


Rover 1888 Safety Bicycle - Coventry Transport Museum


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