1890 Manchester Cycle Mfg Co ‘Irwell No 2’

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1890 Irwell No 2

Built by the Manchester Cycle Mfg Co

30″ Wheels. Solid Tyres.

This is a rare surviving example of Manchester’s early cycle industry.

Only two other Irwell Safety Bicycles are known, one in France and the other in America.

In 1890 the No.2 Roadster was fitted with pneumatics but no illustration is provided. In 1891 the No. 2 is in three versions all cross-framed.

The rear solid tyre is a bit loose but apart from that the Irwell is ready to ride.





New Bridge Street, Strangeways, Manchester, England



William Golding (b.1840) was a baby linen manufacturer and childrens outfitter who took out a patent for lever drive (1885/11,990) with further patents 1886/5160, 1886/8049, 1886/9234 and 1887/1304.

By 1886 he had started the company to manufacture ‘Claviger’ high-wheelers with lever drive from New Bridge Street, Manchester, from c.1887-89.

Sturmey remarked: ‘The pedal orbit is elliptical, without dead points, and within the wheel base. The main part of the stroke is in a straight line, almost vertically under the rider, but allowing for all the ankle action that can be put in at ordinary speed. The velocity of the pedal is so much less than that of the ordinary rotary as to give the impression that the machine is geared up.’ A review in 1888 considered the ‘Claviger F’ superior to the ‘Xtraordinary.’

The ‘Claviger’ rear-driver safety bicycle with solid tyres and lever drive was also made from 1887. The ends of the two levers incorporate pinions that engage with and drive matching pinions on the wheel spindle in a form of sun and planet gear. Contemporary reports indicate that it was not as free running as a chain driven machine and the levers came very close to the ground at the bottom of the stroke. The ‘Belsize’ geared-up lever driven rational and safety was produced in 1889. The company decided in July 1889 to discontinue the working of the Claviger patents.

In December 1889 the company name was changed to the Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Co. Ltd and capital was increased.