Evelyn being seen off on her London to John O’Groats ride by Ben Tillett (left) and Claud Butler (right), 1935
Evelyn Hamilton is perhaps best known as the pre-war long distance cyclist, friend of Claud Butler and owner of a cycle shop in Streatham, London during and after World War 2. In addition some may have heard of her exploits in occupied France …she was awarded the Cross of Lorraine by De Gaulle after the war. In 1931 Evelyn won the first women’s half-mile sprint handicap and the Sporting Life trophy at the old Stamford Bridge cinder track. Perhaps the fame that went with this win secured her a job two years later as a ‘double’ for Gracie Fields riding a bike in the latter’s film Sing As We Go. There exists a photograph of Gracie and her sister in an old car together with Evelyn and Jack on a tandem at the Bishop’s Arms, Finchley.
On 15th September 1934 Evelyn set off from Old Palace Yard, Westminster to ride 1000 miles in seven days. She was sponsored by Claud Butler and rode one of his silver bikes equipped with the then new Constrictor Osgear. In 84 hours of actual riding she covered the distance at an average speed of over 12mph. A year later, on 23rd September 1935, and again seen off by Claud Butler, Evelyn rode from London to John O’Groats – the 700 miles covered in just over four days. By now she was famous enough to be introduced to the crowd by Labour leader Ben Tillet and for Pathe News to take an interest – they filmed the start for their News in a Nutshell programme to be shown in cinemas. Pathe filmed her again the following year giving tips on cycling, fashion, massage and what not to do on a bike! *
– Michael Townsend, 2011
The Mochet Velocar, introduced in 1932, created interest in the idea of semi-recumbent bicycles, and Danish engineer Holger Moller patented his variation, the ‘Moller Auto-cycle, in 1935. It has a more upright position than the Velocar.
Triumph subsequently built a ‘Moller’ under license. Like other ‘novelty’ bicycles of the era, it does not appear to have been a fast-selling model in Britain, and was not greatly promoted by Triumph. Nevertheless, judging from the number of survivors it would appear that for a short period the Triumph Moller did enjoy a reasonable production run.
Its primary claim to fame retrospectively is the 1936 Pathe News footage of the Triumph Moller being road tested by the well-known cyclist of the day Evelyn Hamilton (screenshot below).
1936 Triumph Moller Auto Cycle
22 x 1 3/8” Wheels
This Triumph Moller is well-worn, with rusty brightwork. The steering wheel fitted is too large for practical riding.
EVELYN HAMILTON TEST-DRIVES THE MOLLER
LINK TO THE PATHE NEWS MOVIE
Evelyn Hamilton info with thanks to Michael Sedgwick, published on Classic Lightweights – http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/evelyn-hamilton-builders.html
Moller Auto-cycle picture with thanks to Brian Rosenberg – http://sofacykelgalleri.dk/
Other Moller pictures and advice on this model with thanks to Michael Grutzner.