The Highwheel Group

by | Sep 20, 2023

The V-CC is pleased to announce the formation of a new group for original ordinaries, replica highwheels and modern penny farthings. The object is to stimulate interest in all types of high bicycle and encourage the study of their history. We aim to organise regular rides and events that highlight the history and the development of the highwheel and celebrate the lives of important figures such as James Starley, William Hillman, Thomas Humber, Dan Rudge, Ion Keith Falconer, W A Rowe, W H J Grout, John Keen, Thomas Stevens, George Waller, Dan Albone, G P Mills and J H Adams; who built, rode and set records for these machines. We also aim to assist the V-CC marque enthusiasts in the comprehensive study, recording and cataloguing of all types of highwheel bicycle. We are currently in the process of planning an annual ride as a group to Thomas Steven’s grave in East Finchley.

Since the early days of the Club, ride reports show that there was a keen interest in the ordinary. This interest peaked in the mid 70s when regular rides of original ordinaries attracted numbers in double figures. Veteran machines were regularly ridden at these events but at the time these machines were less than 100 years old. 50 years on, many of these bicycles are now considered museum pieces and, although some are still ridden and shown, everyday use is likely to be detrimental to the preservation of these historic machines. This is not to say that we discourage their use and we hope that they will be very much part of the activities of the group. However, there are now several manufacturers of high quality replica machines and a new breed of machine that we would term ‘modern penny farthings’ that offer an entry point to our hobby whilst still remaining of type. We hope that by bringing these modern bikes within our group we can encourage the riders of these machines to align with the aims and objectives of the V-CC. By encouraging this new membership we hope to be able to educate and inform the next generation of riders on the history of these bicycles.

Although the traditionalists within the club would prefer the use of the term ‘Ordinary’; to the layman, all of these machines would be identified as the colloquial ‘Penny Farthing’ type. This recognition of the penny farthing offers an opportunity for the group to reach out and engage with the public and educate them. Spreading the story of these fantastic machines and their origins often starts with a query from an enthralled onlooker as to whether the machine is an original Victorian bicycle. In most cases this is not the important detail, but the story and information that we give on the back of this query is. We do not see any stigma in the term ‘penny farthing’ and embrace all machines of the highwheel type. To avoid any conflict regarding the use of the terms ‘ordinary bicycle’ and ‘penny farthing’ we have opted to name the group The Highwheel Group as we feel this is a neutral term acceptable to all parties.
The group is open to all members of the V-CC.