1903 Rudge-Wedge Ladies

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 RUDGE WEDGE & CO LTD

rudge_wedge_stand

Harry Rudge was the eldest son of Daniel Rudge, who founded Rudge cycles. In 1891, he joined Mr. C. Wedge to form Rudge Wedge & Co. They set up a cycle works at Pelham Street, and in 1902 moved to new works in Mander Street. They also built a few motorcycles, but decided to concentrate solely on building pedal bicycles. Many of their products were supplied to the trade with their own or customer’s transfers and large numbers of their machines were exported to the colonies.

The following article is from an edition of the ‘South Staffordshire Illustrated’, and includes an excellent description of the company.

RUDGE, WEDGE & CO., LIMITED,
Manufacturers of “RUDGE-WEDGE CYCLES,”

Registered Office: Pelham Street, WOLVERHAMPTON.
LONDON DEPOT : 52 Fore Street, E.C.

Telegrams-” RUDGE-WEDGE, WOLVERHAMPTON.”                            Telephone-7,266, Wolverhampton.
“OBLIQUELY, LONDON”                                                                                  London, 5,541 (Bank).

‘There are few names that have achieved a higher standing in the cycle trade than that of the Rudge family, whose members have for years past been prominently identified with most of the improvements in construction of the celebrated cycles, which have attained such world wide popularity. One of the founders of the business to which our notice applies, Mr. H. Rudge, is the eldest son of the late Dan Rudge – inventor and patentee of the now universal ball bearings, and maker of the original ” Rudge ” bicycles – and in conjunction with some well-known local gentlemen of influence established the firm of Rudge, Wedge & Co., Limited, in 1891.’

1900 rudge poster copy

rudge wedge cycles

1903 Rudge-Wedge Ladies

24″ Frame

28″ Wheels

(Now sold)

In the early 1900s, Rudge-Whitworth was the country’s leading cycle manufacturer, with an export market worldwide. The general trade in cycle fittings was at its peak in this era, and local shops could buy parts wholesale for assembly themselves, adding their own transfer (decal) to satisfy demand in their area.

But some unscrupulous dealers tried to pass off their locally-made bicycles as those of the top manufacturers in order to command a higher price. Such bikes were usually sold in private classified advertisements from a seller who disappeared from his address soon after, enough junk cycles had been sold from a single advert. A scandal ensued, with reports in the cycling press of niaive customers buying what they thought was a quality bike that fell apart within a week.

In order to avoid such counterfeiting, Rudge-Whitworth made all its own cycle parts in house, and to unique designs. It meant that replacement parts for Rudge-Whitworth bicycles were not interchangeable …which can present problems for vintage enthusiasts today. But the quality manufacturers recognized that there was a market for cheap bicycles, and most of them solved this issue by owning a second company where they built bicycles using bought-in parts, sometimes including surplus items from their main factory or old stock items no longer used in their top-of-the-range and up-to-date machines.

Rudge-Whitworth’s second company was Rudge-Wedge. In the 1890s Rudge-Wedge stock was generally out-of-date models from the main company. By the early 1900s, its frames were usually the same as the cheaper Rudge-Whitworth models, but the components were different. Rudge-Wedge had a big export market – using the main firm’s agencies – where there was a strong demand for quailty-built bikes at cheaper prices. This rare survivor is typical of those exported to the British Colonies. It was restored by a Rudge enthusiast around 20 years ago. The hubs are tarnished and there are a few paint chips here and there, otherwise it’s in excellent condition and ready to ride.

 

 

 

 

rudge wedge cycles

RUDGE WEDGE

RUDGE, WEDGE & CO., LTD

The success of the undertaking has been rapid and progressive, the Company from the first evincing a determination to spare neither effort nor expenditure in the constant improvement of their models in each succeeding season, with the inevitable result that the Rudge Wedge machines now rank in popular appreciation with the best high grade makes in the market. The present board of directors comprises Messrs. William F. Legg (Chairman), Fred. F. Price, Thomas Hunt, Harry G. Rudge, and Charles A. Wedge, Managing Director, with Mr. Charles Hamilton, Secretary. The works, situated in Pelham Street, have a handsome and effective front elevation of two storeys extending a distance of 120 feet along that thoroughfare, and having a rearward extension of some 80 feet.

On the ground floor are the general and private offices, and beyond these are the workmen’s entrance and gateway for vehicles conveying goods and materials. Passing into the large machine shop our attention is invited to a splendid plant of machine tools and labour saving appliances, many of which are of special design, and are perfectly up-to-date for facilitating the various manufacturing operations. Adjoining is an engine house furnished with a capital Otto gas engine from which motive force is obtained for driving the machinery. Next to this is the enamelling shop with all the requisite dipping tanks, arid three large stoves in which the hardening process is completed at a very high temperature. On this level also are the bobbing and mopping shops, where the parts are polished and prepared for the plating process, which is performed in an adjoining shop, fitted with vats, dynamo, and every requisite for nickelling, and other metal deposits.

factory

Wolverhampton Works (Pelham Street).

Ascending to the upper floor we next make acquaintance with the brazing shop, with open fires, this apartment being of fire-proof construction, with concrete floors, a precautionary measure by the way generally adopted throughout the establishment. Adjoining this are stock rooms for rims, frames, and other parts all readily accessible when required to be given out for making-up.

Fine lofty- apartments are apportioned to the finishing and building departments, which are fully equipped with complete outfits of machine tools for their purposes, and below in the large yard are joiner’s shop and wood stores for materials used in the manufacture of packing cases which are all made on the premises, and spacious accommodation for the storage of saddles, pedals, and other parts, and cycling accessories of every description.

MachineShop
The Machine Shop.

The whole of the works’ departments are in charge of Mr. Rudge, who gives the closest personal supervision to every detail of construction of the machines, which are built of the best materials available.


Assembly
The Building & Assembling Department.

Special attention being given to the bearings, which are made from the best bar steel, hardened and tempered to stand the severest strain, and as none but the most experienced workmen are employed, the firm can with confidence guarantee every cycle sent out to be of general and excellent finish.

The popular models of the firm for the approaching season are the ‘Rudge Wedge’ tandem for two gentlemen or lady and gentleman riders, racers, road racers, roadsters, ladies’ safeties. made in Nos. 5, 6 and 7 patterns, and unsurpassed in workmanship, finish and through reliability.Numerous testimonials received from clients in all parts of the country give convincing evidence of the satisfaction invariably expressed as to the high class qualities of the Company’s machines, which now experience a constantly increasing demand in the home and export markets. Full particulars of the various models are embodied in a handsome catalogue issued by the Rudge Wedge Company, which we have pleasure in commending to the attention of those of our readers about to make a selection of a suitable and desirable mount.

rudge wedge cycles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rudge wedge cycles

 RUDGE-WHITWORTH PARIS DEPOT

1898 Rudge Whitworth France poster

rudge wedge cycles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rudge wedge cycles

1902 RUDGE-WEDGE MOTOR-BICYCLE

1902 Rudge Wedge motorcycle

The Rudge Wedge motorcycle was introduced at the 1902 Stanley Cycle Show. The Minerva engine, in either 1 3/4hp or 2 1/2hp sizes, was mounted on the down tube of what was actually their heavy duty carrier bicycle (without the basket attachments).

Rudge-Whitworth did not start manufacturing motorcycles until 1909, so the Rudge Wedge motorcycle is the first powered machine associated with the company.

In 1903 Rudge-Whitworth became embroiled in a dispute with the Werner company over the Rudge Wedge motorcycle. The Rudge-Whitworth Johannesburg depot manager was approached directly by Werner to sell their machines in South Africa. As Rudge-Whitworth did not sell motorcycles, there appeared to be no conflict of interest, so Werner signed a contract with the Coventry company to send 36 machines to South Africa, with Rudge-Whitworth acting as sole agents for Werner.

However, it soon transpired that other Werner motorcycles were being sold in South Africa at a cheaper price. John Pugh refused to pay Werner the balance of £378 due on the shipment, and the matter ended up in court in the King’s Bench Division on 17th November, 1903. Werner claimed not to have supplied the 12 cheaper motorcycles to South Africa, and the matter was settled out of court.

Rudge Wedge & Co ran into difficulties during the cycle trade slump of 1906, and were taken over by Rudge-Whitworth. Rudge Wedge bicycle models continued to be sold, as part of Rudge-Whitworth’s budget range.

There are no known surviving Rudge Wedge motorcycles. Below is my friend’s restored 1901 Werner. As you can see, the engine of this first model – one of the very first motorcycles – is similar to that of the Rudge Wedge, but is mounted over the front forks.

1901 Werner 15

1901 Werner 01

rudge wedge cycles

 

rudge wedge cycles

Rudge Wedge info thanks to – http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/Transport/bicycles/RudgeWedge.htm

and also from the book Rudge-Whitworth: The Complete Story, by Bryan Reynolds

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pAvpAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT21&lpg=PT21&dq=RUDGE+WHITWORTH+SOUTH+AFRICA&source=bl&ots=29t51eq7m8&sig=LpZHU9zMQkdsmq87EBQoeZbDfX8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=c1doVIXJFJPaarHDgZgD&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=RUDGE%20WHITWORTH%20SOUTH%20AFRICA&f=false