1889 The ‘Parr’ Safety (Semi-Diamond Cross-frame)


After the cross-frame came onto the market in 1886, and began to sell in considerable numbers, inventors set to work on improving the design. The main tube in the first cross frames was unsupported, creating stress points at the steering head and rear. Additional stays were added, first between the head and bottom bracket (as with the bicycle featured here), and then also between the head and top of the seat tube.

Next, the rear end became triangulated so that, by 1889, the cross-frame evolved into what is now described as a ‘semi-diamond’ (not a term used at the time). You can clearly see the definition of the ‘semi-diamond’ above and below: a solid rear triangle is formed between the rear stays, seat stays and seat tube.

This was the final cross frame style, current for one year only, before the bicycle frame evolved into its final design, the diamond frame.



1889 The ‘Parr’ Safety

‘Semi-Diamond’ Cross frame Safety Bicycle

made by J. Parr & Co of Leicester

22″ Frame

30″ Wheels

(Now sold)


The Parr Safety is a rare surviving example of the semi-diamond cross frame, a transitional model between the first cross frames and the diamond frame. The paintwork has been restored. Its original nickel is pitted and has not been replated. The inch pitch block chain has been replaced, though as is generally the case with new chain on worn sprocket teeth, this is not a perfect fit – it would be better with old worn chain. Apart from the chain, the Parr is in good condition mechanically and cosmetically and is ready to ride.



J. PARR & Co

61 Friars Lane, Leicester


…1886. Section 6. Gymnastic Apparatus. i. Bicycles and Tricycles, JParr & Co. C, 1885. 3. Tricycles, Exhibit of. W. Carson & Sons. C, 1884. ., Fletcher Bros. C, 1884. 
– The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of HealthOctober 1888vol. 94:pp. 523546

James Parr was an amateur racer. The company made the ‘Star’ high-wheeler in 1877 from 58 Navigation Street, Leicester, and J Parr & Co, trading from 61 Friar Lane, Leicester, produced ‘Parr’ high-wheelers in around 1885. In 1886 the firm introduced their ‘Tandem Convertible Quadricycle’ and two tricycle models, the ‘Central Gear Roadster’ and ‘Cripper Roadster’. You can see the firm’s 1889 range in the advertisement below. Parr was well-known as a regional cycle maker and supplier, as you can see in the extract above.

Porter’s Directory for 1898 listed the firm at 61 to 65 Friar Lane, as maker of the ‘Parr’. As J Parr & Co Ltd, they made a car between 1901 and 1902, the Parr 8hp Tonneau.






















The final evolution from cross-frame to diamond frame involved the additional stays attached to the head. As these were beefed up to become full size tubes, the ‘cross’ part of the cross-frame was dispensed with, and the full diamond frame arrived.

The semi-diamond on the right in these photos (W.T. Russell & Co, 34 Eversholt St, Camden Town) is a tricycle.










1901-02 PARR 8hp TONNEAU 


Parr & Co automobile info thanks to – http://www.svvs.org/genpics6/1902_Parr_8HP_Tonneau.jpg