1910 Rudge-Whitworth No 24 Special Road Racer

The Royal Family’s kids rode Rudge-Whitworths. Prince Edward, son of King George V and Queen Mary, was created Prince of Wales on his 16th birthday, on 23rd June 1910. (The above photo is dated September, 1910). He was invested on 13th July 1911, at Caernarfon Castle. Edward became King Edward VIII on 20th January 1936. On his abdication, on 10th December 1936, the throne passed to his brother, King George VI – grandfather of the present Prince of Wales.

King Edward VII – see the reference below – ruled from January to November, 1901. He was Queen Victoria’s oldest son.



1910 Rudge-Whitworth No 24 Special Road Racer 

Narrow Section Sloping Top Tube (Standover height: 34.25″ to 31.5″ = 2.75″ Drop)

Green Enamel Paintwork

20″ Semi-drop ‘No 87’ Green Celluloid Handlebars

25″ Flush-Joint Frame 

26 x 1 1/4″ Wooden Wheels 

Eadie Coaster Brake

Frame No 623324

(Now sold)

Vintage bicycle collectors can be a fickle lot. The hobby covers a wide spectrum of styles and time periods, some only like a bicycle you can ride, some prefer restored – to recreate the appearance of when it was new – others turn their noses up at anything without original paintwork and patina. But I defy any collector not to fall in love with this No 24 Special Road Racer. Everything about it is superb.

The green paintwork is original, unrestored and in remarkable condition.

The Rudge-Whitworth head badge retains its painted red hand. The head transfer (decal) above it reveals its model name.

What’s more, it has green celluloid handlebars to match the green frame (I’ve never seen that before).

The nickel fork crown has aged well, as have the nickel pedal cranks and large chainwheel.

It’s also practical: the lightweight frame means it’s a pleasure to ride;

The wooden rims – also in excellent condition – are clincher type, so normal 26 x 1 1/4″ tyres can be fitted.

An Eadie coaster brake means there’s no need to clutter it up with cables or levers

The early Brooks B18 saddle and matching nickel rat trap pedals finish it off perfectly.

And it has provence. The British Royal Family are illustrated in the 1911 catalogue with their Rudge-Whitworth bicycles. And the previous owner wrote to Raleigh* in 1952 to enquire about its age – I have the original letter, shown below.

*Raleigh bought the Rudge-Whitworth Cycle Co in 1943








I hope I’m not being too pedantic here, but I don’t think the Distric Manager of Raleigh’s Bristol office has given the correct answer. Unfortunately, I don’t have a 1910 Rudge-Whitworth catalogue to hand for cross-reference, but the 1911 catalogue description (below) is from the Model 2411, whose coaster hub brake was ‘introduced for the 1911 season’. I think the Model 24 was the precursor of that model and was not, as claimed in the letter above, originally fitted with rim brakes and pull-up levers.










































The octagonal Beacon Mill, weather-boarded above a stone base, was built in 1802. Beacon Hill itself reaches 216 feet above sea-level and was the site of a warning beacon, one of a coastal chain established by Henry VIII. There are records of an earlier mill on the site, thought to have been a post mill. The mill was working until 1881 and by 1890 was in such bad condition that demolition was considered. In 1905, the Marquis of Abergavenny had the mill repaired, but she was derelict again by the early 1920s. It was 1935 before she was restored again.

For two hundred years from the mid – seventeenth century the Rottingdean Gang of smugglers ran contraband cargoes from landing sites nearby. The goods included brandy, gin, tea, coffee, spices, lace and a range of other highly prized goods. They used caves dug into the cliffs, which led to tunnels connecting the cellars of houses and Inns under the High Street and up to the Green. The famous vicar Dr Thomas Hooker, whose bust can be seen in St Margaret’s Parish Church, was a skilled horseman and acted as a lookout for the gang. A Customs House was established in the High Street to attempt to curtail their activity. At night the cliff ‘preventative officers’ patrolled top paths. At one time Rottingdean’s windmill sails were used to signal that the coast was clear.

As traditional Sussex industries declined, such as fishing, weaving and iron production, men sought other ways of supplementing a meagre income. Tub carriers could earn up to 10/- a night carrying tubs from the beach up to local hiding places, which compared favorably to a laborers weekly salary. However, although smuggling could be highly lucrative it could also be exceptionally dangerous and although it was generally only the gang leaders that were convicted, these men risked their lives and their livelihoods. Sea smugglers faced naval service on a man-of-war and land smugglers risked transportation and possibly even death if convicted.

The remoteness of the village combined with its proximity to the sea made Rottingdean a popular spot with smugglers. The illegal merchandise was hidden anywhere and everywhere. Stashed in barns, tunnels and even churches, the goods waited transportation to the London black market.

These times were romanticized in Kipling’s, A Smugglers’ Song, “Five and twenty ponies/Trotting through the dark/Brandy for the Parson/Baccy for the Clark.” You can still visit some of the smugglers’ favorite haunts. The Black Horse is an inn reputed to have been the smugglers’ meeting place. Alternatively, there’s the Whipping Post House, where the infamous Captain Dunk lived. A butcher by day and a smuggler by night he ironically lived in front of the whipping post, stocks and ducking stool the posts being used to fasten people so that they could be punished for misdemeanors.

Rottingdean remained a haunt for smuggling with even the local vicar from 1792-1838 – Dr Hooker – acting as lookout. In 1814 an anonymous writer reported in ‘ Summer at Rottingdean’ – smuggling is the support of the inhabitants at which they are very Dexterous – a great deal being carried out at a Gap called Salt Dean Gap about 3/4 of a mile to the East’. When men could earn as much as 2s 7d for simply unloading cargo, over twice the daily rate for hard work as a farm laborer, it is easy to sea why smuggling flourished. The last case of smuggling in the area was reported in 1827 where Herbert Julyan writing in ‘Rottingdean and the East Sussex Downs and Villages’ that smugglers attacked and severely beat Liet. Digby of Saltdean Blockade Division.

Contraband smuggling took off along the south coast in the 1770’s when economic events in Britain started to downturn. Coastal communities, like the rest of the country, suffered increasing levels of poverty as the country’s national debt spiraled and the cost of living inexorably rose. This economic crisis had been sparked by the American War of Independence. For seven years Britain had waged an expensive and ultimately futile military campaign attempting to keep hold of the colonies, on which we relied for the bulk of our trade. When France and Spain joined the American rebels, Britain lost the war. Suddenly the nation teetered on the edge of bankruptcy and taxes rapidly went through the roof. The tax on tea hit an eye-watering 110%. Brandy and gin attracted 18 different duties totaling 250% and the tax on tobacco made up 95% of its retail price. Furthermore, by the late 18th century, the tax on imported salt was 40 times its actual cost, way beyond the reach of fisherman who used it to preserve their catches. Without salt they faced ruin and starvation. However, all of these heavily taxed products were available for a fraction of the price from nearby France and the Channel Islands. The time was ripe for a smuggling explosion.

By 1821 the National Coastguard Service was introduced. This evolved into a disciplined and uniformed body with shore based patrols, an offshore rowing guard and fast revenue cutters patrolling coastal waters. Coastguard cottages (such as at Telscombe Cliffs) were built at regular points along the south coast to house officers. In the war against smuggling the initiative had moved on from vicious renegade gangs to revenue authorities.

As detailed above, the most important factor in the suppression of smuggling was the significant reduction (or abolition) of many import duties. It formed part of a policy of Free Trade in the first half of the 19th Century. Add in the wholesale reform of the Customs service in 1853 which ensured a loyal and efficient force and the authorities were finally able to regain control. Smuggling became relatively unimportant and gradually declined.





Rotingdean smugglers with thanks to – http://www.rottingdeansmugglers.co.uk/history-of-rottingdean-smugglers/