With the increase in war workers, and fewer motorised vehicles, the cycle industry’s home market improved. More women could now afford a bicycle, which were particularly useful for commuting to factories when doing shift work or working in areas with infrequent public transport. In the old days, workers had been housed with their families close to the factories that employed them; but the new emergency work required for the war effort often necessitated longer journeys…
– Bad Teeth No Bar: History of Military Bicycles in the Great War, by Colin Kirsch
As you can see from the above Rudge-Whitworth advertisement, this Rudge-Whitworth Crescent is typical of the bicycles used by female factory workers during World War One. A feature I particularly like (which I’ve not seen before) is the Rudge-Whitworth patents listed on the seat tube (below).
1914 Rudge-Whitworth Lady’s Crescent
Brooks Lady’s Model 76 saddle with patterned top
Frame No 747597
It was against the law to use petrol privately in Britain during World War One, as it was needed for military purposes. So bicycles were the primary form of independent transportation. Women from all classes worked in factories to help the war effort, and I’m sure this Crescent, purchased from Rudge-Whitworth in 1915, would have seen essential service during that dark time.
It’s a glorious 106-year-old survivor, with unrestored original paintwork and transfers (decals) intact. Its components are correct and original, It has recently been serviced, has new tyres and tubes fitted, and is ready to ride.
SPECIALLY APPOINTED TO H.M THE KING
Rudge-Whitworth’s royal affiliations featured prominently in their catalogues and in publicity in newspapers and magazines. Each Rudge-Whitworth bicycle also proudly declared: ‘Specially appointed to H.M THE KING’ (as on this bicycle) and, below, you can see it written on the window of a Rudge-Whitworth shop in Leeds, Yorkshire.