1890 Youths’ Premier Cross-frame Safety (Hillman, Herbert & Cooper)

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Messrs Hillman Herbert and Cooper set up in business together in 1876. After their resounding success with the Kangaroo, they introduced the first cross-frame safety bicycle. Named The Premier, it was patented on 6th February 1886, and went on sale in the same year. By the time this youth size machine was made in 1890 they were advertising ‘sixteen distinct patterns, embracing wheels for all ages, both sexes, and fitted with solid, cushion and pneumatic tyres’.
On the first generation of safety bicycle, the chain was adjusted by tightening or slackening a nut under the bracket which draws the bottom bracket closer to the back wheel using the stays running between bracket and rear ends *. In 1889/1890 the cycle industry adopted the rear chain adjusters we are familiar with today.
This model features a bottom bracket that bolts onto the bottom of the rear mudguard. As you can see in the relevant photograph, the lower half of the mudguard on this Premier is an integral part of the bicycle’s frame. Like all Premiers until the late 1890s, the chainwheel is on the left side.

1890 Youths’ Premier Cross-frame Safety ‘Model N’

(Hillman, Herbert & Cooper)

16″ Frame

28″ Wheels with solid tyres

Frame No 5581

An 1890 Premier catalogue is proving elusive; the illustration below shows the previous year’s model, with open steering head.

With a 16 inch frame and 28 inch wheels, this Youths’ model would have been aimed at older teenagers or female riders around 5 ft tall. Apart from the original saddle top being a bit delicate, it’s in excellent all round condition. It was recently serviced and is ready to ride.









































* chain adjustment succinctly summarised by Roger Armstrong, VCC marque enthusiast for Premier bicycles