The department store as we now know it developed during the Victorian era and quickly became a staple in the modern consumer’s life. These stores carried clothing, groceries, housewares, sporting equipment, and a plethora of other miscellaneous goods. A significant name in the history of the department store is the Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd, later known as Army & Navy Stores Ltd. Its first store opened in early 1872 on Victoria Street in Westminster, London, and by the early 20th century the company had stores worldwide.
According to Ray Miller’s Encyclopaedia, the model name used for their cycle range between 1898 and 1903 was ‘Army and Navy’. The patent plate on the chaincase shows A&NCS, the initials of the Army & Navy Cooperative Society Ltd, with a patent date of 1897. A&NCS built and assembled bicycles for their own customers, but a tricycle such as this would have been bought in by the company, in this case supplied by Quadrant Cycle Co, one of the country’s leading tricycle manufacturers.
It was common for cycle firms to have reciprocal arrangements with other companies. So if Quadrant used the A&NCS chaincase on their own tricycles, it’s likely that A&NCS would have received preferential rates for reselling Quadrant’s products. This tricycle’s style is different from the ‘Model 8’ illustrated in the Quadrant catalogue – it incorporates the ‘loopframe’ design only recently introduced for ladies’ bicycles. Perhaps Quadrant tried out this new design via the Army & Navy outlets, to be offered for sale by the Army & Navy Cooperative Society Ltd at their London store in Victoria St, Westminster, London, as well as for supply to their extended customers base in India and the Far East.
1899 ‘Army & Navy’ Ladies’ Tricycle
Sold by Army & Navy Cooperative Society, Westminster, London
Manufactured by Quadrant Cycle Co
26 x 1/2″ Wheels
This rare tricycle is an older restoration in very good all round condition, and ready to ride.
1898 ARMY & NAVY CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
ARMY & NAVY COPOERATIVE SOCETY
105 Victoria Street, Westminster, London
The Army and Navy Co-operative Society Ltd was just one of many famous stores in London, though Liberty, Harrods and A.W Gamage may be better known today. However, Army & Navy did things a little differently. At the outset, their stores were ‘members only’, membership being reliant on serving within the British military, or being part of a military family. This impacted not only on the goods that the company supplied, but also how they sold them.
Members could visit the impressive premises on Victoria Street in person to choose from the goods on display, or they could consult the company’s regular catalogues and have goods delivered to their home, their barracks, or wherever they were on duty. In the late 19th century, the company’s stores and circulars were filled with military uniforms, weaponry and amusements such as chess boards and pipes.
As the company grew in the early 20th century, Army and Navy began to cater for the military family and ex-patriot markets. The British Empire was spreading across the globe, and Army & Navy provided for families that went with the Empire, via their international stores.
In 1890, an agency was established in Plymouth to satisfy the requirements of the military and naval messes and, in the same year, a depot was created in Apollo Street, Bombay, for the convenience of members in India. In 1891, a second Indian depot was opened in Bundar Road, Karachi, to serve regiments quartered in the Punjab and Sind. Both Indian depots were profitable from the outset, but experienced trading difficulties during the late 1890s caused by the frontier campaign and the low prices charged at local bazaars.
In London, the stores were continually extended and improved. In 1894, a preserved provisions factory was erected in Coburg Row, and in 1897, adjoining premises were acquired at 107 Victoria Street and occupied in 1899. By this time the Society was issuing an enormous illustrated price list each year and had introduced a telephone ordering service. During the Boer War the Stores sent groceries, wine and tobacco to South African ports where they were sold by local agents on a commission basis. In 1900, a large warehouse was erected in Westminster for making up export and country orders and storing groceries. The following year the shirt and collar factory was moved out of Ranelagh Road to allow the further extension of the printing department.
During the First World War, trade suffered as a result of acute staff shortages and the diminished spending power of the Society’s customers. Some new business was forthcoming, however, in the form of army and clothing contracts from the War Office. In December 1919, the Society suffered a major strike of its shop staff. Trade continued to be depressed throughout the early 1920s.
In 1934, the company’s official name was changed to the Army & Navy Stores Ltd. In 1973, the company was taken over by House of Fraser Ltd.
Founded in 1883, the Quadrant Cycle Co was renowned for the quality of their workmanship and in the 1880s was one of the world’s leading manufacturer of tricycles. They introduced many patents for new innovations.
Army & Navy info thanks to –