1869 English Velocipede

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Forder had their original premises on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street where they seem to have made and traded in all sorts of carriages. The firm was founded in 1864 by Frederick Forder and a Mr. Traves. Mr. Traves retired from the business in 1866, which then became known as Forder and Company.

They became successful carriage builders, trading throughout the UK and abroad. They seem to have specialised in making hansom cabs for the London market and it was in this line that they achieved their greatest success. The hansom cab, designed and patented by Joseph Hansom, first appeared for use as a public conveyance in 1834 and was not a success. By the 1870s however it had been improved by several people and the finest version was said to be made by Forders.

In 1868 the Society of Arts had offered gold and silver medals as prizes for two and four wheeled hackney carriages. The cab makers did not respond, preferring cash prizes to offset possible expenses. So in 1872 the Society tried again, offering £60 for the best improved cab of any description, £20 for the next best two and £10 for the following two. The cabs had to be ready for an Exhibition at South Kensington in 1873 and that the judges had to be satisfied that the cabs had been working on the streets of London for three months. *

1869/1870 English Velocipede

(Unkown manufacturer)

36″ Front Wheel

27″ Rear Wheel



(Now sold)

This velocipede, built nearly 150 years ago, appears to be English. It’s in good overall condition, and its wheels still show the remains of their original red lining. It can be carefully ridden.

Even though they were built in just a short period – from 1868 to 1870 – the overwhelming majority of English and French velocipedes have unknown makers. Such was the enthusiasm for this novel means of transportation that hundreds of engineers, blacksmiths, coach-builders, wheelwrights, sewing machine manufacturers, toolmakers, gunsmiths and the like jumped on the bandwagon to create a new cycle industry.

The advertising industry was still in its infancy in 1869. Even when a velocipede was advertised for sale in a newspaper or magazine, few were illustrated. Even if there was a picture, the differences between them were mostly in the fine details, which is too hard to discern from a line drawing. There is no known list of all the makers. So it is almost impossible to attribute a manufacturer to a machine nowadays, and the best information that cycle historians can usually (but not always) offer is the country in which an unknown velocipede was manufactured. The Forder velocipede in the photograph below is similar. I would not  attribute this velocipede to this maker, but I am using details of this company to illustrate a typical velocipede maker of the day.

The machine in the Wolverhampton Velocipede Club photograph above is being ridden by Alfred Forder, who achieved some success in the cycle races in 1869 at the Molineux Hotel grounds. He won several races on his Michaux style velocipede.


Cleveland Street, Wolverhampton

Frederick Forder was a well-known coachbuilder and hansome cab maker of the day, with premises in Cleveland Street, Wolverhampton. With an established workshop and workforce available, as well as a distribution network for his existing products, this is the type of company that would have been ideally set up to make velocipedes.









































Forder velocipede info with thanks to – http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/Transport/bicycles/Forder.htm

* More info on the Forder company – http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/Transport/horse/forder.htm