1913 Centaur ‘Featherweight’

There are perhaps some few firms in the trade who occupy larger factories than the Centaur Company, and turn out a larger number of machines per annum, but there is not one which has done more towards the development of the modern bicycle, or which has consistently held its place in the very front of the industry.

– R.J. Macready, in The Irish Cyclist magazine


Formerly Thos. Townsend & Sons, the Centaur Bicycle Co, of West Orchard, Coventry, was established in 1876 under the direction of Edmund Mushing and George Gilbert, the latter formerly of the Coventry Machinists Co. Mushing was responsible for marketing and administration (later Managing Director); Gilbert was the design engineer. With many innovative design features, the company was one of the pioneers of the cycle industry and they started developing motorcycles and cars by the turn of the century (although the cars did not go into production).

Below you can see Edward Mushing driving a 1904 prototype Centaur car. His wife is sitting behind, and next to Mr. Mushing is Henry Tricket, the car’s designer. They are passing the Shoulder of Mutton public house, in Grandborough, about 15 miles from Centaur’s Coventry factory.

Edward Mushing died in 1910, and the company was taken over by Humber, who discontinued the Centaur name in 1915, during WW1, though it was brought back after the War for a cheaper range of Humber bicycles.




1913 Centaur ‘Featherweight’ 

26″ Frame

28″ Wheels

Armstrong Three-speed Gear

(Now sold)

This beautiful Centaur Featherweight was restored by the previous owner in 1994, with all bright parts nickelled. It remains in excellent condition. The saddle is a modern Brooks made in the old style, a practical option for everyday riding. This machine has a history file showing details of its restoration.

The Centaur Featherweight sported many unique features that contributed to its place as one of the top bicycles of its day. These include:

Duplex forks

Twin chainstays

Centaur patent Bowden rear brake

Armstrong Three-speed Gears



























Armstrong Works, Icknield St, Birmingham

Sturmey Archer had not yet dominated the market in the early years of the 20th century, and there was considerable competition for 3-Speed gears. Armstrong was a major player in the field.

William Reilly invented the Tricoaster three-speed hub for Raleigh. Harry Reilly (William’s brother) set up Armstrong-Triplex Three-Speed Gear Co in 1906, using one of William’s discarded hub designs. Armstrong was Harry’s father-in-law. This caused a rift with the Bowdens of Raleigh, and William Reilly resigned from Raleigh in 1910.

New Hudson favoured the Armstrong gear. Armstrong Triplex was incorporated as a limited company in 1907, with their headquarters the St. George’s Engineering factory. When St. George’s Engineering’s New Rapid Cycle Co got into financial difficulties, New Rapid was taken over by New Hudson.

In 1914 Raleigh bought the Armstrong-Triplex Three Speed Co from New Hudson for £6000.










1913 Centaur Featherweight 2








1913 Centaur Featherweight 1










Centaur car photo and info – http://www.conferencehmc.co.uk/downloads/Motoring_Moments.pdf