I bought this rare Raleigh from my friend Lorraine, who lives in Eversley, a small village in Berkshire. It had been previously owned, for most of its life, by Lilah Locke, who was a well-known character in the village, her father being the founder of St Neot’s Boys School and headmaster until his retirement in 1904.
There are very few surviving examples of this model of Raleigh, which was only made until 1904. There were two in the Tom Norton Collection, and I’ve been told about another. This one – which Lorraine named ‘Lilah’ – has the wrong handlebar and front mudguard. The most interesting aspect is its extra brace above the bottom bracket, which could perhaps be considered an alternative to Raleigh’s regular X Frame design. At the time, there was a ‘patent war’ over crossframe bicycle design, so maybe Raleigh patented this style in order to thwart other manufacturers who were trying to introduce their own crossframe variations.
1902 Lady’s First Grade Raleigh
Frame No 89930
1902 RALEIGH CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
OTHER LADY’S FIRST GRADE RALEIGHS
1904 RALEIGH CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
THE LOCKE FAMILY HISTORY
There has been a school on the site of St Neot’s since 1869 when the Reverend Richard Powles, a childhood friend of Charles Kingsley, leased the newly built Wixenford House and opened it as a boy’s boarding school. Wixenford School remained in Eversley until 1887 when Mr Ernest Arnold, headmaster at the time, had a disagreement with his landlord and moved his school to Wokingham. In 1888 Eversley became the new home of St Neot’s when Mr C Locke took over the lease of the building.
St Neot’s founder, Cyril Calliphronas, was the son of Reverend D. P. Calliphronas, a refugee from Greece. In 1878 Cyril married Isabella Hervey, youngest daughter of Lord Charles Hervey and together they had two children Ivo and Lilah [the previous owner of this bicycle].
It was about this time that Cyril adopted an alternative family surname of Locke. He had suffered many years of misspelling and mispronunciation but matters came to a head when he and his wife were introduced at a house party as ‘Mr and Mrs Carnivorous’! After many years of teaching in public schools, Cyril opened his own school, St Neot’s in Sunningdale in 1886 with approximately 15 to 20 boys on the register. In 1888 he moved the school to Eversley where he remained its Headmaster until his retirement in 1904.