1904 New Rapid Lady’s Bicycle
(St. George’s Engineering)
This New Rapid Lady’s bicycle would appear to be the last of its kind. Though quite a few New Rapid ordinaries still survive, and there’s a safety in the Smithsonian, examples of the company’s post-Victorian output are few and far between. She seems a little forlorn. Patched up over the decades, she’s a remarkable survivor …but she undoubtedly misses those gay young roadsters with whom she frolicked away the twenties.
NEW RAPID CYCLE Co Ltd
Pope St, Birmingham
The company would appear to have started out as Newton, Wilson & Co, subsequently becoming St. George’s Foundry Co. The Despatch and New Rapid high wheelers were manufactured from 1881. You can see a 1886 advert for their New Rapid above. Other models were Aurora, Diana and Leda.
The New Rapid was a well-publicized model, and the company won a gold medal at the 1885 International Inventions Exhibition in London for the New Rapid tangent wheel (see above). In the mid-1880s the firm produced the Rapid Hill Gear, using spur gears, operated by a lever, to gear up and down. Presumably this influenced the company’s choice of new name when it changed to New Rapid Cycle Co around 1893.
They made machines for Cooper Kitchen & Co until 1886, and exported to America through their agents S.T. Clark of Baltimore.
New Rapid Cycle Co were in financial difficulties by 1898. By 1907, Armstrong Triplex gears were being made at the St. George’s Engineering factory. New Hudson Cycle Manufacturing Co Ltd were major customers for the Armstrong Triplex gears, and it is believed that they took over the New Rapid Cycle Co.
1898: A NEW RAPID PICNIC