Like towns up and down the country, Surbiton was served by cycle shops who would buy frames and components through the cycle trade and build bicycles for local customers. The photo above illustrates one of Surbiton’s cycle businesses in the early 1900s.
G.W Rice, of 7 Victoria Road, Surbiton, set up shop to build cycles in 1899. The business became ‘Rice Cycles & Motor Company’ by the time it closed in 1909. The shop is now Headmasters, a hairdressing salon.
One of G.W Rice’s suppliers was Edward O’Brien, who sold complete bicycles as well as components, both wholesale and retail. O’Brien’s own brand name was ‘Coventry Challenge’, and he would supply these bicycles to local cycle shops at a wholesale price for a batch. With such wholesale orders at home and abroad, O’Brien was able to boast in his advertisements that he was “the world’s largest cycle dealer”.
1907 G.W Rice ‘Surbiton’ Roadster
‘Coventry Challenge’ supplied by Edward O’Brien Ltd
28″ Wheels with Eadie Coaster
1905 COVENTRY CHALLENGE EXTRACTS