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Australian Bicycle Manufacturer's Articles

(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

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Austral

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

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Blackbird

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

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.

Other Riders

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.

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Carbine

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.

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Cyclops Toys

by Marjory Fainges: the introduction to her book “Cyclops Toys” published 1998.

Copies available from Gary Jones $40 + postage (03) 95680014


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.

You only have to mention the word 'Cyclops' when a group of people are gathered together, and it is soon apparent that this word alone brings out the memories of childhood and the tremendous impact that this name has had on the children of Australia. Fond reminiscences emerge of what may have been a well-loved and battered old pedal car with wonky wheels and missing tyres, but to its once-young owner it remains a treasured plaything; a long-remembered doll's pram is brought out, once used to wheel the latest dolly acquisition, or the latest plastic tyred three-wheeled Dinkie (which still carries the famous name on the fork of the handlebars), that a child or grandchild uses to perform 'wheelies' down the driveway of a modern home.

This seven-lettered word 'Cyclops' has graced both boys' and girls' wheeled toys for over 80 years. There are myriads of Australians who, when little, were wheeled along by fond parents, safely ensconced in the baby carriages proudly emblazoned with the name 'Cyclops'. This trade name has had a profound influence on both the wholesale and retail buying of the Australian public for a great many years.

Having originated in a small way in Sydney and spurred on by the insistence and influence of a child's need, Cyclops progressed from an employment base of 4 people, continuing to grow through the years of World War I, the fabulous 1920s, the bad years of the 1930s Depression, and then under great difficulty and stress during the later years of World War II. Following the revival of industry after the war-when returned servicemen wanted to buy the best for the children that they had left behind-Cyclops came under British ownership. In 1956 the company marketed 100 different items, reaching its zenith in 1968 when the conglomerate it had become marketed over 2000 individual items, (including surfboards. wading pools and slippery slides).

When the first British owner faced bankruptcy in the 1970s, the whole network was taken over by another British conglomerate. In the late I 980s the toys were being manufactured offshore, until the name was rescued by its new owner-an Australian firm-and wheeled toys bearing the name Cyclops are once again manufactured in Australia by Hunter's Toyline. The name Cyclops' continues to survive (if only just), against tremendous competition from overseas imports in the 1990s.

This is not just the story of a great Australian icon of childhood-it is a record of the wonderful workmanship and high quality products of the original Australian owner. the merger of an Australian company with a British toy giant, the fall of that great empire. the retrieval. and the endurance of the Cyclops name through it all For the name of Cyclops lives on, not only in the mind~ of previous owners, but in the delighted, playful hands of today’s children.

Unfortunately, much of the information that would have helped in the recording of these wonderful people who were involved with the establishment of Cyclops in its first 50 years has been lost, and alas, up to now nothing has been available through libraries; therefore it is of the greatest importance that what is known today is passed on - before it too, is lost forever.

In my position as Consultant on Toys (particularly those of Australian manufacture) to the Queensland Museum, I have realised the importance of dispersing the knowledge and information that I have amassed over the years through the generosity and tremendous help of some wonderful people throughout Australia, who like myself are interested in preserving our heritage for future generations.

Added to this are my own fond childhood memories of exploring excursions on my beloved red Cyclops No. 3 Scooter around the streets of West Geelong in Victoria during WWII; later reminiscences – I remember the joy my three sons had with their trusty red Cyclops pedal car in our backyard in Brisbane during the 1960’s, and a small granddaughter with her first doll’s pram (Cyclops of course) in the early 1980s. All these wonderful memories have made me realise the importance and obvious impact that the word “Cyclops’ has had over the years on just one family.

This book is the result; I hope it will bring back pleasant memories of other childhood years to all readers, young and old.

For the many people who are becoming interested in collection, restoring and preserving these old toys, I hope you will find the information included in this book to be of great help. Then maybe, just maybe, on reading this, more information will come to light, and even finer examples of these marvellous old childhood icons will be brought forward so that they can be placed in museums where they may be seen for all to enjoy and remember.

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Edworthy

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.

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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.

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Gladwyn

Produced by Joe Leigh of Beamie St Campsie up to the 1930's. Jack Hepher has a 1920's model.

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Hartley

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.

Hi

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

Kind regards

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.

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Healing

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. 

 

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Football, meat pies, Kangaroos and Holden pedal cars?
By David Bates

As reported in 'Pedal Talk' the journal of the Australian Pedal Car Club, Jan 2000

Thanks to the 'god father' of pedal cars Bob Phillips I have just received the info on Holden pedal cars! Yes that's right Holden pedal cars, it seems long before you drove the FX came the first series Holden, a pedal car!
Before the war G.M. was on the verge of creating a fully fledged local manufacturing operation, however, intervened the war and by 1940 with the fall of Paris, local automotive manufacturing was deemed irrelevant, so for next few years the company joined the war effort like most of Australia's industries to meet Australia's defence needs. The Labour Government in 1944 encouraged the Australian automotive industry to make the next step n forming a local car manufacturing company, this also would be an excellent step forward in our national defence capability, for there was a widespread feeling that peace would be short lived.
Making up for wartime austerity G.M. then produced their first post-war toys, and yes that included a pedal car. Fortunate for many adult Australians this was short lived (I can't imagine pedalling to work in a Commodore.) and G.M. began making the real thing, (Holden) and well, the rest is, so they say, history!

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Lewis Cycles by Leon Arundell

Information supplied by Leon Mitchell

Vivian Lewis established a bicycle business in Adelaide, South Australia in 1892, and in the late 1890s went on to produce motor cars and motor cycles.

Leon Mitchell is developing a web site, "The Lewis Project," on the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works. The site features photographs of the Lewis Cycle Works at http://users.senet.com.au/~mitchell/lewis/album/index.htm, and a copy of the 1912 Lewis Cycles Catalogue at http://users.senet.com.au/~mitchell/lewis/ephemera/html/1912cycles.htm.


Loveland Cycles by Susan Lilley

Information supplied by Susan Lilley

My grandfather, Arthur Loveland, & his brothers manufactured bicycles in Victoria in 1890's to 1900's. 

We have the original ledger 1900-, which gives particulars of all transactions, such as details of bike and of any "Trade ins".  We have photos of bicycles, shop, workshop as well as trade mark plates and medal won for bike racing. 

They appear to have started in North Fitzroy, then moved to Ballarat.  The shop front they used is still standing. They also had a shop in St Arnaud. My uncle in Ballarat has these items in his keeping, and I have scanned the photos in an effort to preserve them, and have the ledger details recorded on computer as well.  I intend to put them into a more publishable form, as part of our family history.

Arthur Loveland went on to become on of the first motor engineers, as many bicycle manufacturers did, and had a fleet of hire cars in the early 1900's for the future.  He continued in this business until his death in 1954.

Over the years we have looked for his bicycles.  Two models we know were the "The Emu" & "Loveland Cycles", for which we have the plates. I have started to contact some Historical Societies in the St Arnaud & Ballarat areas.

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Peerless

Peerless Cycles of 151 Broadway, Sydney. Owner J.B.Wilson. Later he was VICTA

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Speedwell

by Roger Roy

Speedwell, now there's a name, where I was in NSW in the 1960's , you rode one or you had to answer to "why are you riding one of those Victorian things?", meaning Malvern Star, that "other" brand available there. At that time gears were for "girls" and alloy rims were the province of "idiots" as they were not strong enough!. Okay so you own one of New South Wales finest and want to date it? Easy, just send the frame number, na…, sorry, not that easy at all. I have been looking for quite a few years now and I can't see any correlation between number and year of manufacture, sorry. Yes it appears that some bikes with a "G" number prefix are somewhere near 1938, but that is the only thing to come up so far and has not helped with other letters. I can now give you answer within ten years (sometimes much closer) for pretty much all of the New South Wales produced bikes. If it has a Sturmey Archer hub and its original, you’re laughing! Yes, I can hear the protests now "you can't rely on that, they had stockpiles of hubs!" Sorry, I think not. I doubt that a small manufacturer kept a lot of stock at all, and the bikes that I have looked at, where a purchase date was known, had hub dates that are within months of a known purchase date. I have been told that the factory records went to the tip upon the death of the Forman some years ago, a terrible shame if accurate. 

The trick for the more common bikes is mostly in the paint and decaling. This seemed to be changed every 10 years or so up till the 1960's when things changed a lot more often. If the paint is gone I can identify from various other details, but not with much certainty at present. The details that changed over the years include fork ends, lugs, seat stays, and some of the running gear. 

The Royal Speedwell's and Superlight's are a bit of an unknown at present as I have only seen a few, the Mustangs have decals all their own and have an early and late type. There are various other models Popular, Popular Deluxe, Sports, Special Sports, Special Sports DeLuxe, Ranger26 and Superlight. I am willing to help Speedwell owners if I can (and If you can find me!) but can Speedwell owners help me? I need close up photos of the Mustang decals (head tube, seat tube and down tube, both late and early), the "Boomerang" style decals that came out in 1965, any sales brochures, advertising, anything at all that may show a Speedwell so I can get a look at the details and dates that are appropriate. I guess any help at all would be appreciated. 

 

Speedwell Serial numbers that we know of

S/T means the serial number was found on the seat tube

B/B means the serial number was found on the bottom bracket

 

Gents

 

Serial No Found on Date Series Description Owner or Museum No.
1193             S/T 1920's     Ray Jones
4445                   B/B 1920's racer 28"   Robyn Danielson
10272      S/T 1920's PMG   198
12219        B/B   racer   706
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
A29570                    1948 popular 28" Jack Hepher

A75403   

S/T 1920's popular   481
B71866     S/T 1940's utility   548
C3574                         1928     Dunc Gray
C8519 B/B 1929 racer   545 ex Frank Webb
C20222                       1936     Dunc Gray
D1074 S/T 1930 racer? Quality race/Conloys/red Hepher
D5412   1932     Dunc Gray
D6728 S/T 1932 racer   Hepher
E6963 B/B 1920’s racer   586
E7420   1934     Dunc Gray
G29278 S/T 1935 roadster “Popular” Hepher
G34818   1932?   Olympic David Oldham
G38508   1938     Dunc Gray
G47540   1934     ex Jerry Gould
G58093 S/T 1936 racer “Superlite” /green Hepher
G62391 B/B 1936 racer   502
?   1936   Lightweight Nobby Robinson
G77099 S/T 1940 racer OZ gears Hepher
V7969   1960’s?     Ted Lynch
W22746 B/B 1970's racer   596
W85771 S/T ?   Popular  
22865 55-10 1960's S/A3sp, off white Special Sports Reg Toovey
80023 B/B 1950’s racer   686
80808 B/B 1950’s racer   277
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
91886 RRD 1960’s? utility cantilevered frame 452
96669 B/B 1960     542
45995 70-5 early 70’s S/A 3sp,purple met Popular Delux Reg Toovey
S15637 B/B 1972     625

 

Ladies

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
G8 S/T 1945   PMG 197
V7230   1955 Perry b/p,lt green met Sports   Reg Toovey
W8909   1940's ?   Popular  
W15914   1940’s?     Liz ?
10252 B/B 1940’s? sports   558
18304 S/T ? straight bar   Robyn Hill
85473 B/B 1960’S? straight bar   614
94760 61 early 60’s Renak b/p,lt blue met Popular Reg Toovey

                          

 

 

Delivery

 

 

12975 S/T 1940’s     104
A22116 S/T late 1940’s     190
B53273 S/T 1940’s?     312
C80 S/T 1938?     163

                                                                                      

 

 

Children’s

 

    1930     578

 

                                                                                    

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

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  Superb

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.      

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Super Elliott
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.”

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Super Elliott: An history by Jay (Jim) Tulloch

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.

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SWANSEA CYCLES: A WEST AUSTRALIAN LEGEND

From the Newsletter of  the Western Australian Historical Cycle Club

by Peter Wells

 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 Baldwin 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.

In 1927 the Baldwin brothers started business at 9 William 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 Baldwin 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.

When 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.

After the frames had been brazed and checked for correct alignment, all joints were filed and sanded smooth before the painting process took place. This involved an undercoat, which was lightly sanded, followed by the first primary colour, which was then baked in 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 to withstand.

In 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.

From 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 Stevenson, Harold Durant, Jack Casserly, Syd Patterson, Merv 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 Marshan, was the only WA rider to defeat Hubert Opperman 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

For what it's worth, Swansea records were all destroyed when the firm ceased trading in the late sixties, and we have a lot of difficulty when trying to identify the age of many machines accurately. I have been fortunate to have in my possession a number of one owner machines, which, together with a rough idea of the number produced annually, enables me to date them reasonably well.

Swansea made two types of 5 Swan machine, a track racer, and a road racer. These could also be standard off the shelf jobs, or Specials, built specifically for a rider to his requirements. The Specials had a pair of swans brazed to the top bar about six inches apart, and the riders name was sign written there. The one in my collection is a Special, and was a trophy for a Swansea sponsored road race. The actual specification of wheels, cranks, etc was very much up to the owners, what they could afford, or what they reckoned suited their riding style.

Frame numbers were invariably stamped under the centre bracket, although I have encountered some with a second number stamped under the centre-bracket, or on one of the rear wheel dropouts. These extra numbers have always started HSS, which may simply indicate a particular frame builder, as the numerals are quite low.

My 5 Swan road racer is a 1947 model, frame number 18667, and was owned by Tom Blanchard until I purchased it in November 2001. Blanchard raced it for several years until he grew too big for it, and bought a larger frame.

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Tollis
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.

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Victa

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. 

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Waratah

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.

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Whippet

 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. 

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Wynall

Manufactured by Bennett & Barkell Sydney - Commenced 1920's.  Name changed to WYNALL CYCLES - Goulburn St Sydney, about 1933.

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G.H.Yates

     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.

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