In the 1890s, cycle racing was the world’s No 1 sport, and in the boom years the cycle industry could not make bicycles fast enough to supply the demand from chaps who wished to emulate their racing heroes and maybe even set their own records on the country’s roads. As well as the established manufacturers catering to this market, hundreds of smaller companies bought parts through the trade to build their own bicycles. After Humber brought out their safety bicycle with an upward sloping top tube in 1892, many of the trade suppliers copied the design. It was usually described as a ‘Humber Pattern Frame’. As you can see in the trade advertisement below, it was offered without a transfer (decal) so that the “maker or agents may put their own transfer…”
1893/1894 Safety Bicycle with upward sloping top tube
‘Humber Pattern Frame’
Possibly ‘The Hudson’ made by Hudson Edmunds & Co, precursor of New Hudson Ltd
28″ Wheels: 28 x 1 3/4″ rear & 28 x 1 3/8″ front
I bought this upward sloping safety bicycle without wheels, saddle or handlebar. As you can see from the various advertisements of the period, that’s how many bicycles of this design were sold, which is why it is now difficult to identify their makers. If you compare the frame illustrated in the Hudson Edmunds & Co advertisement below, you can see that it could be ‘The Hudson’.
The remains are well-preserved. Though it’s rusty, the metal is solid throughout. It would originally have had a 28″ wheel on the rear. The front fork seems to short for the largest 30″ wheel, so I assume it would have had the smallest 30″ or a 29″.
To recreate that size difference I’ve used an early Westwood wheelset with a 28 x 1 3/4″ wheel on the rear (the smallest, its modern equivalent being ETRTO 622), and the largest on the front – 28 x 1 3/8″ (ETRTO 642). It has a racing handlebar and Garford saddle with new leather top.
To make their fixed wheel machines lighter and so easier to pedal or push uphill, serious riders stripped their safety bicycles of superfluous items, ie mudguards, brake and lamp. With its current seat height it’s the equivalent of a 24″ diamond frame. This fast ‘road racer’ is ready for its next owner to ride…
HUDSON EDMUNDS & Co
Made the ‘Hudson’ in Sheepcote St., Birmingham, Warwickshire, before 1892. Hudson, Edmunds & Co. were brass tube manufacturers. Edward A. Wilson worked for them and had also entered into partnership with George Patterson who was making ‘Gem’ cycles. The firm displayed various ‘Hudson’ safety bicycles at the 1891 Stanley Cycle Show. In 1892 Wilson went to Adelaide with samples of ‘Hudson’ cycles. In 1893 the firm displayed their “well-known” ‘Hudson’ cycles at the National Show. They then erected a new four-storey factory close to their old works in Sheepcote St. to enable them to turn out up to 200 machines per week. Became the New Hudson Cycle Mfg. Co. Ltd from January 1894. The former company was liquidated c.1895 [‘An Encyclopaedia of Cycle Manufacturers’ by Ray Miller]
1893 RACING SCRAPBOOK