(page updated 21 May 2007)
Austral Blackbird Bullock Carbine Cyclops Toys Edworthy Gladwyn Hartley Healing Holden Lewis Loveland Malvern Star Peerless Speedwell Superb Super Elliott (Peter Haran) Super Elliott (Jay Tulloch) Swansea Tollis Victa Waratah Whippet Wynall Yates
AUSTRAL Appeared About 1910 ? They were not made in large quantities until they became a brand within the Malvern Star (General Accessories) group. The bike has the two maps of Australia cuts at the head. Sold by Marcus Clark, the time payment retailers of George St Sydney from 1933. from Jack Hepher.
Also in Hobart by Charles Davis, at the same shop in Elizabeth St, cnr of Elizabeth St and Cat & Fiddle Alley. Frank Miller's dad purchased one for 10 pounds, cheaper than a similar Malvern Star , early in 1937. 3 speed caliper gears. Frank rode it to school, 7 miles from Claremont. Seconded to the Army on Emergency Mapping.. Rode it until Aug 1944. from Frank Miller
[Austral was one of the propriety brands of "Allied Bruce Small" the company that built Malvern Star bikes. Other brands under their banner included Preston Star and Pacemaker. The only specific reference that I have to Austral is a photo of Bruce Small on an Austral taken some time before 1945. By 1945 Allied Bruce Small was selling bikes through a wide network of dealerships across Australia some of which were dedicated Austral dealerships or agencies. Allied Bruce Small also made and sold Austral tyres and other components. Your serial number is consistent with the form of Malvern Star serial numbers which were generally of the form 9M99999. Some say that the first number corresponds with the last digit of the year of manufacture and the M is for Melbourne as there are some of the form 9S9999 where S means manufactured in Sydney. However, there are great inconsistency in these numbers and none of these rules regularly hold true. The best way to judge the decade of manufacture is to look carefully at the components if they are original. The brand and model on components will often date the bike as they changed often.] by Rolf Lunsmann
by Jack Hepher
BLACKBIRD Recorded pre 1900. - Ipswich Queensland. Until the late 1930s, made by Don Blackman of Hume Highway or Liverpool Rd, Ashfield, Sydney.
BULLOCK John Bullock - a rising mechanic with W. Tyler (ex racing champion & Bicycle builder set cut on his own in 1896 - producing the Bullock bicycle - in Hansen & then Pirie Street Adelaide. His bikes became famous in the Southern states & were still being advertised in 1939. by Jack Hepher
A Short History of Bullock Cycle Works
From Australia Cycle Trader 1939
In the year 1896 John Bullock, a rising young mechanic employed by W.Tyler (one of Adelaide’s oldest bicycle and tricycle makers, and also a champion rider) decided to enter business on his own account.
He began by building bicycles at his home, and so quickly did he become known for the excellent machines that he built that it became necessary, in order to keep pace with the demand for his product, to open a workshop and showrooms in the city. He accordingly took a small shop in Hanson Street, but shortly afterwards removed to larger premises in Pirie Street. So great was the demand for the Bullock Cycle that, in a very short time, a staff of mechanics were working at high speed and the Bullock premises became a hive of activity.
Besides building the ordinary roadster and touring bicycle, as it was known in those days, he specialised in racing machines and practically every racing cyclist of note rode the famous “Arrow” the name by which his machines were known. So highly esteemed was the Bullock Racer that, apart from the great number of local racing men, many visiting racers at the big cycling carnivals on the Exhibition and Adelaide Oval tracks, preferred to ride a Bullock, and many records were established on this speedy machine.
And, coming to recent times, a galaxy of speedy riders has selected the Bullock bicycle, realising that it is the speediest machine built in South Australia. IT would be difficult to enumerate the many records established on Bullock bicycles and the many hundreds of riders of this remarkable machine, but it may be interesting to recall few performances.
Champion Bullock Cycle Riders
Willie Spencer and Frank Corry, world’s champions and record breakers, selected Bullock Cycles for all their S.A. engagements.
Arnie Bate used Bullock Cycle to defeat H.Opperman in five-mile Pursuit Cycle Race at Payneham, and many of his other best performances.
K.J. Osborne, first S.A. Championship, first scratch race, 28th December 1934, Mt Gambier.
Billie Griggs, winner twice of 100 mile Burra Road Race.
Billie Dale, winner Norwood-Noarlunga Road Race and record to Milan and back.
Archie White, winner of Norwood-Noarlunga Road Race.
Frank Mariner, winner of Noarlunga Road Race several times.
Jack Bullock, first and fastest time to Victor Harbour.
J.Bullock and W.Dale won every road race of any importance that season on Bullock Cycles.
After forty-three years n the bicycle business, Bullocks Ltd still carry on the traditions of the founder of the firm, and the same skilful and careful methods adopted in the building of the early Bullock cycles are embodied in the recent machines, and the ever-increasing number of riders is evidence that for durability, speed, and scientific construction no better cycle is built in Australia,
It is interesting to recall that Mr Bullock was the first man in Adelaide to establish chain stores, and form the humble beginning at his home in 1896 he had in a few years well-stocked cycle stores in Gawler, Kadina, port Pirie, and agencies in every large country centre, besides three big stores in the city.
The extensive business of Bullocks Ltd has been built by integrity and keeping faith with the purchaser, and by building a machine that ensures the purchaser the fullest confidence in it's endurance and reliability, every machine being passed by a special supervisor before entering the enamelling department and later passing to the purchaser.
Although Bullocks Ltd can supply machines from 4 pounds to 24 pounds, there is only one standard of quality and dependability.
All Repairs, Price Right and prompt.
Cycles from 2/6 Weekly.
by Jack Hepher
CARBINE Named after Carbine the famous race horse. Appeared on the market, late 1895 - T. W. Henderson of Park St Sydney, sold the business to F.D.[Fred] Walcott [ex champion cyclist] in 1920 - Walcott manufactured and sold Carbines from 88-90 Wentworth Ave Sydney.
F. D. Walcott of Carbine Cycles was as well an agent for Malvern Star, prior to Malvern Star's setting up their own retail store in Sydney in 1934 or 35.
Jack Hepher found that T.W.Henderson, of Carbine Cycles, Park St Sydney, gave a prize for the Bathurst to Sydney race in 1910. F.D.Walcott took over Carbines building at 88-90 Wentworth Ave about 1918 and closing down in 1968, selling stock to Jack Walsh.
by Marjory Fainges: the introduction to her book “Cyclops
Toys” published 1998.
In practically every street in Australia, whether it be a tree
lined suburban street, a back alley of one of our major cities, or even a dusty
track in the great outback of this vast continent, there can be found an example
of a child's wheeled toy that bears the name of that great Australian icon of
childhood-Cyclops. It may be a little faded and worse for wear, but it still
remains a much-loved item of childhood.
by Jack Hepher
Edworthy Motors & Cycles - Parramatta, Lidcombe & Taverners Hill Leichhardt Est. early 1900. Selling bikes up to 1971. Produced the much talked about Spring frames jobs in the 1930s.
Europa Cycles and Pulteney St Cycles, Adelaide SA
by Frank Kovacs
Elan was Pulteney Street Cycles own brand from around 1986 until around 1993 when they ceased trading in South Australia. Pulteney St. Cycles were the trading name for Abeni Corp. Australia, previously trading as Europa Cycles, at Morphett Street Adelaide, from around 1978 to 1985. In between the two moves, they were located in a small shop on Pulteney Street, near the south east corner of Rundle Street, for about a year, trading as Pulteney Street Cycles. The Abeni, Europa, & Elan, were quality lightweight steel racing frames built in-house in Australia, by Abeni. These frames usually used Reynolds 531 tubing, and were custom built, generally equipped with quality European parts such as Ofmega, & Campagnolo Gran Sport, Triomph & Victory, with the Elan, being the latest incarnation, more likely to be equipped with Shimano. These components were also equipped to Italian made Technotrat frames with Falk CroMoly tubing, that continued to be marketed as Europa, alongside Elan, when they moved to Pulteney Street. They were the largest retailer of new Colnago frames & Campagnolo equipment, in Adelaide, and always had a large amount of stock on show, which made them a very interesting shop to visit.
Produced by Joe Leigh of Beamie St Campsie up to the 1930's. Jack Hepher has a 1920's model.
HARTLEY 1895 James R. Hartley (a racing cyclist) opened a sports store in Bendigo - When did the name go onto an Australian made bike ?
Recently we received this letter from Robert Hartley's grandson which provides valuable information on Hartley bicycles. Thank you Albert.
I was a little disappointed when searching your web site to find very little on the HARTLEY cycles.
My mother was the daughter of Robert Hartley, one of the brothers who owned the Hartley Sports Stores here in Melbourne.
Eventually these businesses were bought out by Edments the Jewellers, who also disappeared.
It is my understanding that two of the Hartley brothers, after some family disagreements, then opened the Melbourne Sports Depot businesses here in Melbourne.
As a child, back in the 50's, I remember visiting both stores and being introduced to my Uncles.
Coincidently I was surprised to find on marrying, that my wife had a HARTLEY bicycle, which is still in my possession.
Unfortunately I have not traced the Hartley family tree, but should you desire I am sure a search of the above two companies on the ASIC web site would provide some history.
There is an article that you may be interested in at www.maffra.net.au/heritage/rowley.htm
Albert Hartley Day
The Museum also recently received a very nice Hartley bicycle which was donated by the original owner, Keith Henson, who purchased it in Bendigo.
HEALING A. G. Healing Commenced building & selling Bicycles in Bridge Rd Richmond Victoria 1907 - From which the A. G. Healing empire developed - selling electrical appliances (remember the Healing Golden Voice radio) Healing Cycle division was sold to General Accessories in 1959.
meat pies, Kangaroos and Holden pedal cars?
|Serial No||Found on||Date||Series||Description||Owner or Museum No.|
|47755G||about 1935||One of 2 custom built by Bennetts in Sydney for 2 visiting French racers||Dean Ryan|
|A18009||late 1950's||special sports||light blue met||Reg Toovey|
|A23086||1950's||popular||Perry b/p brake, green||Reg Toovey|
|C8519||B/B||1929||racer||545 ex Frank Webb|
|G47540||1934||ex Jerry Gould|
|22865||55-10||1960's||S/A3sp, off white||Special Sports||Reg Toovey|
|87845||55-4||mid/late 50’s||S/A3 sp, candy red||Special Sports||Reg Toovey|
|15819||69-12||late 60’s||S/A 3sp,gold met||Popular Delux||Reg Toovey|
|18939||68-12||late 60’s||S/A 3sp,blue met||Popular Delux||Reg Toovey|
|61493||67-9||late 60’s||S/A 3sp,gold met||Popular Delux||Reg Toovey|
|70257||68-9||late 60’s||S/A 3sp,blue met||Popular Delux||Reg Toovey|
|45995||70-5||early 70’s||S/A 3sp,purple met||Popular Delux||Reg Toovey|
|B26491||S/T||1939||loop bar||sturmy 3sp||Hepher|
|G79869||late 30’s||freewheel,mid blue||Reg Toovey|
|G86409||S/T||1938||loop bar, Eadie||Hepher|
|V7230||1955||Perry b/p,lt green met Sports||Reg Toovey|
|18304||S/T||?||straight bar||Robyn Hill|
|94760||61||early 60’s||Renak b/p,lt blue met||Popular||Reg Toovey|
Speedwell by Jack Hepher
Mr Bennett sold bikes in Sydney prior to 1900. The Speedwell brand - made in England. The soon to be famous Australian made Speedwell appeared - WHAT YEAR ? built by Bennett & Wood of Pitt & Bathurst St Sydney. Production ceased when the company came under the same owners as Malvern Star in the 1980s or --?
If you have the answers, please contact Jack Hepher, 1 Sedgman Ave Mittagong. NSW 2575 or phone 02 4872 3358
by Jack Hepher
SUPERB Cycles Built By L.J. Finnick of Campbell St Sydney - 1920s . Jack Hepher has restored a 1920's Superb track racer.
End of the road, but not for the treadly
Article by Peter Haran from the Sunday Mail, April 19, 1998
It was before the war when the Adelaide bike enthusiast walked whistling into Super Elliot’s Rundle St bicycle shop and brought a brand new coaster – for between “two and four quid.”
These days kids, mums and dads ogle state-of-the-art hybrids with hydraulic disc brakes, double front fork suspension and a set of 24 gears – for about $1000. Today you get more for your buck. A thousand dollars for a bicycle brings you into the Holden “treadly” range. The true enthusiasts bike, assembled from imports from half a dozen countries is a serious piece of hardware costing a cool $6,000-$10,000.
“There was a time, you know, when a bloke would walk in here and pay 20 cents for a spare part and spend 20 minutes with a salesman discussing how to put it on his bike,” says Mirek Haas – the guru of bikes, particularly those from Super Elliott’s, the born-and-bred SA bike company. Mirek can fit the spokes into the history of Super Elliott’s. He started there soon after turning 14, and was a messenger, running around for the Elliott family for $9 a week.
Today, generations after Super Elliott’s was launched by BJ and Vic Elliott in 1902, Mirek owns the original Super Elliott bike shop. On Friday the Super Elliott sports store, on the historic site, closes for good with a much publicised sales bash. But not the cycles – Super Elliott bikes will keep freewheeling on at 200 Rundle Street. “You could say I bought in when I joined in the 60’s.” said Mirek. “It shows a young bloke can still get to the top without big wages and with enough encouragement from the owners.
“But bikes and the whole attitude to them has changed and evolved.” The coasters were favourites among Adelaideans. Two wheels, mudguards, a carrier for the kitbag and a battery powered light. Braking was easy – just pedal backwards, really hard. They were the days when the authorities noted bikes could be a health hazard – “the chief complaint the bicycle is made on behalf of the deaf, the lame, infancy and old age.” It was an era long before the automobile became a ‘threat’ to pedestrians. “They were a method of transport for work and play,” said Mirek. “They were used for family outings. And back in those very early days, when there was a full moon, it was actually legal to ride a bike at night without a light!”
BJ and Vic Elliott manufactured bikes at Gawler Place from the 1930's and the bike shops opened in a dozen locations from Rundle St to Port Augusta and Hindmarsh to Mount Gambier. The Super Elliott was an icon: diamond frame construction: solid, dependable. The racing model had cane rims, all the tyres and tubes were made in Australia. “It was when we got to the ’60's that things changed,” said Mirek. “It was uncool to be on a bike. You couldn’t get off it fast enough to get into a car.” “Then came the mountain bike of the 1980's and we began to turn full circle – bikes became cool, fitness and fun machines with an emphasis on health and exercise.” Then leading edge technology began powering the cycle industry. China and Taiwan rubbed shoulders with the US, Britain and Italian manufacturers.”
Super Elliott became a retailer more than a bike builder. In the back workshop, in a atmosphere of rubber, oil and spanners, Wayne Roberts is no longer referred to as a repairman, but as a bike technician. Behind him, at the rear of the Rundle St store, are a couple of golden oldies from World War II. One is an Atlantic, a dust-covered relic with leather saddles, curled with age. Mirek said: “I’ve got 20 audio tapes done with people who worked in the industry. If we don’t get some history of the Elliott's now we’ll lose it.”
A new Shogun model is wheeled out for a demo. Aluminium, centre-sprung suspension, a dozen gears and built tough enough for a downhill dash with Schwarzenegger.
“Bikes are back,” said Mirek, “different, but still enjoyable and fun.”
Canberra Bicycle Museum members may be interested to know the history of the Super Elliott bicycle which was the most popular brand of bicycle used in South Australia between the 1930's and 1960's and beyond.
Super Elliott Cycles was founded by brothers Bert and Vic Elliott during 1902 and their first shop in Adelaide city was opened at 200 Rundle Street in the central business area. By 1930 business had expanded and property was purchased in the vicinity of Gawler Place, another inner city street where a large factory and warehouse were built and also a second retail shop was opened.
By the early 1930's business was prospering and production of ladies, men’s and children’s bicycles were in great demand as well as road and track racing cycles.
The Super Elliott bicycle was becoming so popular that another 10 retail shops were opened in country areas of South Australia.
During this period cycle racing was booming in all Australian states so Vic Elliott decided to sponsor a professional racing team. He selected four of the most promising riders - Deane Toseland, Keith Thurgood, Phil Thomas and Jack Conyers. These four riders became well known wearing their Super Elliott jerseys at all major track and road races winning regularly from the scratch mark between 1930 and 1940. Most famous was Deane Toseland's performance in the Warrnambool to Melbourne 165 mile Road Handicap event. He had the fastest time from scratch in 1938 and then a brilliant race ride in 1939 recording first and fastest time from the scratch bunch. It was certainly a major victory for the already well known Toseland.
|This photo was taken at Renmark, South Australia, at a track
carnival in 1938.
It features Super Elliott riders (L to R)
Keith Thurgood, Deane Toseland, Phil Thomas and Jack Conyers
Keith Thurgood was the better track rider winning the famous Austral Wheelrace (founded in Melbourne during 1887). Thurgood won this event in 1936 and again in Melbourne in 1940 won the World Derby from a top class field comprising Australia's best track riders and overseas competitors. Another epic victory was the winning of the 1936 South Australian Centenary Derby from a field of riders representing all States. Keith Thurgood’s introduction to Super Elliotts was during 1934. He was already a prominent racing cyclist in Broken Hill where he lived and he decided to ride his bike to Adelaide seeking employment. Following 3 days riding he arrived and was immediately given a job at the Super Elliott factory. That same year, at 22 years of age, Keith won the classic Burra to Adelaide 100 Miles Road Race and then as a Veteran rider aged 55, in the 1967 Road season, won the same event again.
History records Phil Thomas as becoming a major sensation. When competing as an amateur he was selected for Track Event test races leading up to the British Empire Games which were to be held in Sydney in 1938. Thomas, having won State titles and Australian Championships was a logical choice. The team was selected following Test Race wins in 1937 over distances of ½ mile and 5 miles. Phil Thomas was disqualified from the Team when officials were notified that he had won a ten shillings cash prize in a schoolboys race a number of years previously. Following this upheaval and conflict Thomas immediately joined the professional ranks thereafter winning lucrative cash prizes when competing with the Super Elliott Team on the road and track circuit.
During 1939 amateur cycling was reaching a peak in popularity and Super Elliott riders competing from the scratch mark in road events were Jim Nestor, Max Monkhouse, Jack Bell and Jack Kempster.
When World War II intervened many club riders joined the army, navy and air force but the sport of cycling survived.
A new class of champions were prominent Super Elliott senior riders Tom Nestor, Len Godsmark, Malcolm Green, Bob Strange, Bernie Sweetman and junior Deane Whitehorn.
In the early 1940’s Super Elliott junior, Deane Whitehorn, won State and Australian Road and Track titles and then joined the pros in mid 1940. He went on to win the Australian 4000 Metre Track Pursuit on a number of occasions.
During the early 1940’s ‘Healing’ cycles came on the racing scene and the majority of riders in Adelaide events either raced on a ‘Super Elliott’ or a ‘Healing’. Elliott’s decided to create publicity in the Adelaide newspaper ‘The Advertiser’ each Tuesday a list of weekend winners within the Super Elliott sale advertisement with photo of the current riders. The advertisement appeared each week during both the Track and Road season. Sales gradually increased with more Super Elliott shops opening in country centres including a third shop in Adelaide city also over the border into the Victorian towns Warrnambool, Bairnsdale, Ararat, Ballarat and Broken Hill in NSW.
Following the end of the war Deane Toseland left the army and opened his own bicycle shop in North Adelaide. Phil Thomas became manager at Elliott’s 200 Rundle Street shop. Jim Nestor from RAAF joined the staff at the Super Elliott factory along with Keith Thurgood.
By the 1940’s Jim Nestor continued to carry the Super Elliott fame winning major events in SA, NSW and Victoria acquiring his greatest victory by being selected for the 1948 Olympic Cycling Team in London UK.
Another rider Maurice Martin was challenging Nestor during this period winning State and Australian titles and when the first Australian Amateur 6 Day Track race was held at Wiley Park, Sydney, during 1954 both Martin and Nestor representing South Australia as the Super Elliott team became winners of the 6 Day Series. They also won the Amateur 6 Day Track event at that meet. Although offered lucrative cash incentives to turn professional, Jim Nestor continued to be one of Australia’s greatest amateur riders racing his Super Elliott through to 1956 when he again gained selection for the Melbourne Olympic Road Team at age 35.
Two important employees within the Super Elliott production team were Tom Robinson who was a very talented craftsman building racing frames to rider’s specifications and also Les Hall the frame enameller. Les never used stick-on transfers but did all detail with the paint brushes including miniature Australian flags crossed in pairs on the sides of the fork blades with also two pairs on the seat tube. Both of these regular sought-after tradesmen were still working with the Super Elliott Team for well over 50 years and well past their retirement age.
One of my prized racing bikes within my personal collection is a Super Elliott 1945 ‘Thurgood’ model built by Tom Robinson sprayed and detailed by Les Hall. Considering the bicycle is 60 years old the paint work is still in remarkably good condition. The bike is complete with ‘Dalessandro’ Italian wooden rims and singles plus BSA components and a ‘Brooks’ saddle.
For those of us who own a Super Elliott, and myself who raced one during the 1940’s, the history and boom period of this famous racing machine have long past disappeared but the nostalgia of bygone days will live forever.
Notes (Aug 23, 2005)
Deane Toseland is now 94 years old and is sadly nearly totally blind.
Keith Thurgood died aged 89 in 2003.
Phil Thomas died aged 88 in 2004.
Jack Conyers died in the early 1960’s.
Jim Nestor still going ok and is 84.
Maurice Martin died aged 72 in July 2005.
Deane Whitehorn is still riding in Veterans events in Adelaide at nearly 80 years of age having survived cancer a few years ago.
Memories from Yesteryear from Jas (Jim ) Tulloch, Veteran Cyclist.
From the Newsletter of the Western Australian Historical Cycle Club
By the beginning of
the Twentieth Century the bicycle had left behind the age of the
"ordinary", or Pennyfarthing, as it was better known. It had
finally taken the shape that is still to be found on today's cycles, with
same sized wheels, diamond shape frame of tubular steel and that great
improvement, pneumatic tyres.
In Western Australia,
as in the rest of the world the bicycle was proving
very popular, both as a means of transport and as a healthy recreation
and sporting machine. It was proving popular in both city and country districts
due to die cheap initial costs, and the negligible running costs. Unlike the
horse it did not need water or feed, while the motor car was still costly to run
and out of reach for the great majority of people. The bicycle proved itself
very useful as a courier, regularly setting faster times between towns than the
horse drawn coaches, particularly in the goldfields. Soon almost every town of
decent size had a cycle club, with regular events, both touring and competitive.
World War 1
effectively slowed the import of motor vehicles, so Australia lagged behind many
other countries for transport, relying on the horse to a great extent. The
bicycle, however, still retained its
popularity, with a number of firms importing
machines from abroad, and an increasing number being
manufactured locally, using 1920's
Australia had settled down from the upheaval of the Great War, and was
beginning to expand its manufacturing industry, as well as opening up farming
and mining over much of the country.
So it was not unusual
when two young West Australian brothers decided to set up in business
manufacturing and selling bicycles and accessories. Howard
was only twenty‑three years old, his brother Les
several years younger. They lived in Mosman
Park, a Perth suburb that nestles between the Swan River and the Indian
Ocean, so decided to call their business Swansea Cycles and Motor Co,
and a rather clever play on words that was destined to play a big part in
the cycle industry in Western Australia for nearly half a century.
1927 the Baldwin
brothers started business at 9
Street, Fremantle, with a small annex at the rear of the shop where they
began making their own bicycles using components imported from England, at that
time one of the leading component suppliers in the world. And thereby hangs a
tale, for Howard
didn't realise that it was necessary to obtain a permit to bring all
those parts into Australia. However the authorities at that time were quite
reasonable about the whole affair, showed the Baldwin
boys the error of their ways and arranged the necessary import permits.
How times have changed.
I said that they made their cycles they did it by starting with a handful of
steel tubes that they cut to length, and then brazed them into the various lugs
to complete the frame and forks. They built up their own wheels from a bundle of
spokes, hub, and rim, so that they really did make the complete bicycle.
brazed and checked for correct alignment, all joints were filed
and sanded smooth before the painting process took place. This involved an
lightly sanded, followed by the first primary colour, which was then
their own oven. Then the second colour was sprayed on, and again baked.
Then came the application of transfers and decorative lining, a feature of
bicycles at that time. The whole assembly then had a coat of clear
air‑drying enamel to seal everything. Baked enamel was used because it was
the toughest and longest wearing
paint available, able to take the many knocks that the average cycle had
their first year of trading Swansea made and sold about 70 cycles. Then came the
great Wall Street crash in 1929, followed by the disastrous Depression years.
Paradoxically, that period actually helped Swansea Cycles, because many people
found that they could not afford to run their cars, and reverted to using
bicycles once again. They found them a great means of cheap transport that was
healthy as well
and to many a great sport and leisure activity.
By 1939 Swansea Cycles had expanded to larger factory premises in Newman
Street Fremantle, with 5000 square feet of floor space, a staff of 33,
and a turnover of more than 1500 cycles a year, as well as trotting spiders and
children's tricycles. There was also a branch shop at 70 Barrack Street, Perth,
and another in Kalgoorlie,
with agents throughout the state.
the outset the firm saw the value to be obtained through racing their products,
and actively sponsored many of the better sprint and distance riders in the
state. Riders of the calibre of Dave
Finn and countless others kept the Swansea name well to the fore in the
results of the big races. In those days programmes gave details of the machine
being ridden, as well as the rider's name. One outstanding distance rider, Horrie
was the only WA
rider to defeat Hubert
in a race, and also won the prestigious Warnaambool
to Melbourne road race, on a Swansea, of course. When you realise that
there were so many local cycle clubs throughout the state conducting road races
on many weekends, the potential for sports machines was an important part of the
firm's line‑up of models, as well as the more mundane roadsters,
which had to cope with mainly corrugated gravel roads outside the
immediate metropolitan area. Swansea also sponsored the annual Swansea 50 Road
Race, from Perth to Armidale,
then on to the finish at Fremantle. The firm regularly took a stand at
the Perth Royal Show, displaying the full range of racers, semiracers, roadsters,
ladies cycles, and boys and girls cycles. Of course there was a full
range of accessories to choose from, and all available on easy terms carried by
the firm itself. Second hand cycles passed through the factory before being
offered to the public. After World War 11 parts were in short supply for several
years, so the standard of finish
was not quite up to pre
war machines, but the same pride of workmanship was still evident, and
there was still a strong demand for new machines. By the 1960's
the motorcar had begun to make inroads into the cycle industry throughout
the Western World, so Swansea's
began selling electrical appliances, refrigerators, radios, as well as
their cycles. As the two proprietors were getting on in years it was decided to
close the business in the late 1960's.
So a family firm that had given so much to Western Australian cycling, as
well as supporting a staff that in its heyday amounted to some sixty-five
people, finally closed its doors after
more than forty years. Swansea cycles were regarded as one of the best available
in Western Australia, and even today many are still to be found in owners
garages, taking pride of place, still giving their by now aged riders pleasure.
What more can anyone ask than that their handiwork has far exceeded all
expectations of longevity and reliability?
So I say, as a long-time Swansea owner and fan, hats off to the Baldwin boys and their staff for producing such outstanding machines that many are still doing what they were made for giving pleasure to their owners. When 1 started this little project I was merely trying to find some information on the Swansea firm, and details of the transfers used on the bikes so that I could restore my own 1947 Semi-Racer that I brought new from the Perth store some time back. The response to my advert in the West Australian drew some fifteen replies, the most important of all from Mrs Nell Baldwin, the sprightly octogenarian widow of Howard, the firm's founder. Not only did she bring to light photos taken in 1939 and in the early post war period, but also details of the company, and a very important transfer. I have had much enjoyment from the various phone calls and letters, and have added another two Swansea's to my collection, both badly in need of repairs, but with interesting histories from new.
And morerecently from Peter Wells this information on Swansea Cycles
what it's worth, Swansea records were all destroyed when the firm ceased trading
in the late sixties, and we
made two types of 5 Swan machine, a track racer, and a road racer. These could
also be standard off
numbers were invariably stamped under the centre bracket, although I have
encountered some with a
5 Swan road racer is a 1947 model, frame number 18667, and was owned by Tom
Blanchard until I
researched and written by Ian Kenny
I had heard of the King St. Mascot bicycle shop first from my
mother who said that a cousin made a good bicycle; I did not give much thought
to the family connection until a neighbour Don Strachan, became interested in
Genealogy and it transpired he was a distant relative, sending me details of my
family tree and so my interest in Tollis bicycles was rekindled. Whilst at the
‘Wings and Wheels’ rally at Nowra in October 1995, Phil Westbrook also told
me of the existence of the King St shop and the seed was sown-to track down and
if possible acquire a piece of my family’s history.
But how to find a Tollis bicycle? I had for some time been a fan of the Bicycle Museum and I decided to start there. After introducing myself to Annemarie she told me that the Museum had recently acquired a Tollis frame from Arthur Jones, it was away being painted and expected back in a few days. I was given Arthur’s phone no and I rang him to ask if he knew of any other Tollis frames. Arthur rang me back and told me of Arthur Coulson who worked for Russell Tollis who owned the King St shop known as Mascot Cycles.
Arthur Coulson proved to be a mine of information-yes he confirmed that Russell Tollis was alive and well-and so I then rang the Wyong phone number to make the last connection. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was talking to a very ‘switched on’ and warm bicycle enthusiast, after a few minutes I felt I had known Russell for years. After yarning for awhile I suggested that I drive up to see him in a few week’s time; Russell had also mentioned that he had in his shed the very last Tollis bicycle made! And so it came to pass that on Tuesday 18th June 1996 Anitra and I drove to Russell and Grace Tollis’s home in Wyong and Russell told me the story of his bicycle shop.
Donald Edwin Tollis (b 1887, d 1971) opened for business at his 210 King St Mascot shop in 1922-it also was the family residence, Russell was born there in 1916. Donald made all his bicycle frames by hand, using Reynolds and BTM (Aust.) tubing. These were mostly double-butted, lugs were Brampton brazed on with heating assisted by an old-fashioned bellows. An electric fan superseded the bellows in about 1937. Donald had served an appropriate Apprenticeship as he had worked for Bennett and Barkell (1916-18), Wynall Cycles (also Bennett and Barkell), then Bennett and Wood where he made frames for Speedwell Cycles (1918-22).
The remaining components were bought from the U.K. using about four wholesale suppliers, Brown Bros. Being the U.K. contact. Australian suppliers of U.K. components were Guthries, Marchant Bros., Lawrence Smith & Co., and Williams, Dredge and Haydon. Russell took over the reins of the business in 1946 and was rewarded for his efforts when in 1951 his handcrafted Tollis cycles achieved the most sales in the Sydney Metropolitan Area. Russell had a reputation for building a very true wheel and in 1952 he bought up all of A. G. Healing’s surplus bicycle components and machinery. Part of the buy was a large number of 36-spoke rims which Healing used in a moped and Russell contracted Charlie Bazzano in Newtown to cast 36-hole hubs in order to use up the rims. At this time most front wheels had 32 spokes so Russell’s wheels would have been at least 12.5% stiffer, a point not to be overlooked in 1950’s roads in Sydney!
Russell remembers the evolution of componentry we take for granted today-the first gears (2 speed) were made by Whitny and Russell took a Tollis thus equipped to Melbourne over Christmas 1936; Cyclo gears were later on the scene. The first 3-speed gears were Simplex, appearing in 1946 in derailleur form. The best hub gears were Sturmey Archer which generally came in 3-speed form, a 4-speed close ratio was also offered later. Shimano brought out a 3-speed in the 70’s but it had early teething problems. The advent of the double chain wheel by Huret in the mid 50’s was also a major advance in gear componentry.
Donald helped out in the shop for some years and then Arthur Coulson worked there for some time, Russell can’t recall how many cycles he made but estimates close to 10000, not bad for basically a one- man operation! One of Russell’s customers was Fred Hollows, the famous Eye Surgeon. Russell remembers him as an enthusiastic cycle tourer, Fred bought four bicycles, the last one about 1975. Another keen client was Pat Fiske, a film director at the Australian Film Institute.
Russell made his bicycles until 1978 when he retired, living at Blakehurst and then recently moving to live in Wyong close to his daughter, Roena. Russell’s handcrafted bicycles are a very special part of Australia’s cycling heritage and when I can’t ride Russell’s last Tollis any more then I know it will be safe in Annemarie’s care-in the Bicycle Museum where enthusiasts can appreciate Russell’s craftsmanship.
P.S. After the bike was displayed, Reg Toovey, of Canberra, noticed it, and told us that he was sure that that was the very bike he used to own and ride. He had sold it to Arthur Jones. He gave us a photo of himself on the Tollis.
by Jack Hepher
VICTA J.B Wilson Broadway Sydney - Reported to be the oldest bike shop in Sydney, opened in 1902, closed in 1980. Production of the Victa cycles had ceased in 1965.
by Jack Hepher
WARATAH Canada Motor & Cycle Agency - operated by Brothers H.J.& G.H. Williams at 625 George St Sydney - selling Massy Harris & Redbird Cycles. Later produced Waratah - Still being wholesaled by Williams Dredge & Haydon up to early 1950s.
They were the forerunners of the various Williams Motors.
from Ernie Scruse Junior, about his Grandfather, the Late Joe SCRUSE.
Joe was a six day rider in the twenties, under contract for five pounds a week competing in two match races a week and raced against Opperman and I think Bruce Small. Joe rode professionally for thirty years and held the N.S.W. One mile championship during the twenties.
During his career he manufactured and sold his own racing bikes under the brand name
After his professional career as a bike rider he commenced his own business Manufacturing and selling his own brand Bicycles, "Whippet" from a workshop/sales room on the corner of Glenmore Road, and Oxford Street, Paddington. The were a very good lightweight racing bike, mainly track bikes with near straight front forks. He took great pride in cutting individual lugs. He had a good local clientele, as he was not far from the Sydney Sports Ground.
Originally he called his bikes "Arrow" but he did not register the name and some other company adopted it. He also made a bikes for Nock and Kirby's sold under the name "Advance"
I used to enjoy going to his workshop, loved the smell, he had a smithy's furnace set up with a huge blow torch, never used Oxy Acet. Even after he got old and gave up the business, if I walked past the building, I could still detect some of the familiar odours. It is now an upmarket Antique Shop.
There were a few bike builders around in the fifties in that area. Tollis, Bol Dor at Kensington, and Hughie Smith at Bondi Junction.
I once buckled the wheel on the bike old Joe built for my Thirteenth Birthday, and not being game to tell him, I took it to Hughie Smith, who Joe was not too fond of. After it had been repaired, I was at the shop and old Joe checked my bike and saw that the buckled wheel was still out a bit. I had to tell him what happened. He blew his top, trued the wheel up again, then wrote out a bill and made me take it to Hughie Smith. Hughie gave me the refund.
My father Ernie Scruse Senior, was also a fair Bike Rider, I think he has a fourth in the Goulburn Sydney to his credit, but he went into the Navy in 1938, and that ended his career racing pushbikes.
Manufactured by Bennett & Barkell Sydney - Commenced 1920's. Name changed to WYNALL CYCLES - Goulburn St Sydney, about 1933.
I have another Australian made cycle to add to your list. I have the remains of a 'Native No.2' made c.1905 by G.H.Yates of Main Street, Lithgow N.S.W.
It has block (1" pitch) chain, Dunlop rims, wooden chain guard and mudguard, plated forks and a front brake which is a pair of Dunlop rubber cones which act directly on the top of the front tyre.
Phil Hine, Lithgow N.S.W.