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Municipal Railway Album – trams, light rail & a few buses

My friend Bob Young is an avid collector of postcards. For that reason, he acquired a large lever-arch postcard and photo album entitled “Municipal Railway Album – Volume II” and sub-titled “Street Railway Operations, Light Rail & Subsequent”. (“Subsequent” mostly meant a handful of buses.)

Sadly, the author’s name is unknown and so are the whereabouts of Volume I and any other volumes in the set. Whoever it was certainly knew their subject and seems to have been writing some time about 1990. The UK locations covered include Blackpool, Bolton, Glasgow, Sheffield, Tyne & Wear, Bexley and London. Melbourne, Australia, is also included.

It seemed a shame for the wider world, especially those people interested in trams, light rail and the history of public transport generally, not to have access to this substantial piece of work. I have therefore scanned it as a PDF file. The author had an annoying habit of typing right up to the edge of the over-wide pages, so apologies for the fact that occasionally the last letter in a word may be missing. Here’s the link to 132-page PDF file, which is about 42 MB in size and which is not text searchable but easy to browse through: Municipal Railway Album

I hope that you enjoy it and, if you have any information about who the author was, I’d be pleased to hear from you.




Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History – now officially published in the UK and Europe

This post is about the new book that Professor Hans-Erhard Lessing and I have written on the history of bicycle design. The project has taken 8 years and I joined it in 2010. The book has had valuable input from a great many people in various countries, including the eminent cycle historians Nick Clayton (UK) and Gary Sanderson (USA). It’s a German-English-American co-production, with Hans-Erhard Lessing based in Germany, me in England and the publisher in the USA.

Although Amazon have been selling the book for some time, it was not officially published in the UK and Europe until Thursday 29th May. Here’s the press release in PDF form: Hadland_Lessing_book

You may also like to read MIT’s blog, in which Hans and I answer questions about the book:

You can order the book from MIT by using this link:

If you wish to order from, you can use this link:


More talks for your society or event

Our list of talks continues to grow, so it’s worth checking periodically to see what is on offer. We now have 25 topics, many of which can be customised to suit your audience.

With the current interest in World War 1, there are two new offerings that may be of particular interest: Pilgrimage to Plug Street and Raleigh-ing to the Cause. The latter will also be of interest to those interested in bicycle history. If Oxfordshire, Berkshire or recusant history is your thing, Who were the Hildesleys? will doubtless appeal.

Find out more about these, and our other talks, by clicking on the Talks, books & biography link near the top of this page. You can print out the list, should you wish. Our charges have not risen in five years and, if you book now, the price will be held, regardless of how far ahead your event is.

Tony and Rosemary Hadland

More pics of Le Petit Bi

Elsewhere on this website you will find my article about Le Petit Bi, the 16-inch wheel French folding bicycle designed in the 1930s by A J Marcelin of Paris. Riders included the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and the artist Francis Picabia. Below are some additional pictures to supplement those in the original article.

The first is a press advertisement for the first version of the bike, showing it in ready-to-ride and stowed modes. The advert is undated but probably from about 1939.

The second picture is of the later version of the bike, as patented during the later stages of WW2, which featured a hinged frame. (There is a lower resolution version of this image, which was used in a press advertisement discovered by Bob Cordon Champ, in the main article.)

Lastly, there is a photo (ex-Cycling magazine) of their reviewer Alex Josey testing the bike. He erroneously ascribed the bike to the aviator and intelligence officer Louis Armandias, who merely brought the demonstrator models to London from France on behalf of a friend of his father.

Press advert for the original version of Le Petit Bi

Press advert for the original version of Le Petit Bi

The later version of Le Petit, which featured a hinged frame

The later version of Le Petit, which featured a hinged frame

Alex Josey of Cycling magazine road-testing a hub-geared version of  Le Petit Bi during WW2

Alex Josey of Cycling magazine road-testing a hub-geared version of Le Petit Bi during WW2


Raleigh: Past & Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand

Front cover dust jacket of 'Raleigh' by Tony Hadland

Raleigh Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand by Tony Hadland, with contributions by Eric Kwiatkowski, Scotford Lawrence and Paul Whatley, was published in autumn 2011 by Cycle Publishing / Van der Plas Publications of San Francisco. It is the most comprehensive and thoroughly researched history of the Raleigh bicycle brand yet published and involved about 5,000 hours of research.
The author has been writing thoroughly researched books on the history of bicycle technology since 1980. All his books have been produced independently of the companies covered. His primary concern has always been for accuracy, not for financial gain. He has therefore always made it a practice to publish, free of charge, update sheets including additional information and corrections. Below is the first such update sheet for this book.

Additional information and corrections

Page 8, column 3, line 8: ‘Harry Davey’ not ‘Harvey Davey’.

Page 13, column 3, paragraph 2, last line: We now know from contemporary press advertising that the company was operational by May 1885.

Page 14, Fig. 1.7: Since the book was published, Colin Kirsch has acquired a Raleigh that slightly pre-dates the Brooklands machine.

Page 139, Fig. 23.1: Should read ‘The 1946 Lenton Sports…’

Page 145: Fig. 23.17: Should read ‘showing 1961 BSA Goldens.’

Page 146: Fig. 23.21: Should read ‘1961’ not ‘1950’.

Page 148, column 3, paragraph 1: Replace last two sentences with ‘This was then the most powerful TV transmitter in the world and covered Nottingham but, in this era of austerity, very few people owned television sets.’

Page 149: Fig. 24.5: Should read ‘Reg Harris beating Arie van Vliet at the 1954 World Championship finals.’

Page 199, column 1, after paragraph 1: Paul Whatley points out that the Raleigh versions, which also first appeared in 1961, were the Gran Sport (which featured for the first time a Campagnolo gear), the Sprite and the Blue Streak. All three used the same 72 x 72 degree non-531 frame. A revamped Raleigh headbadge was also seen on these bicycles. The forks lacked the traditional chromed thimbles and had a normal straight cut fork crown. This new range was first shown at the 1960 Earls Court show and continued until the end of 1964.

Page 235, after column 1: Here is some additional information, provided by Paul Whatley, about Raleigh Lightweights of the 1960s. The Gran Sport, Sprite and Blue Streak were dropped at the end of 1964, to be replaced by the Raleigh Record, Rapide, Rapier and Royale, in that descending price order. There was a 531 double-butted Record frame, which sold for £18. The Raleigh Record did not use this quality frame, but a cheaper version, the whole bike selling for £38. This range, with a few minor alterations, lasted until 1968. In that year, the Raleigh Ruberg replaced the Record, selling for a similar price, while Raleigh offered a 531 frameset at around £20. The Rapier and Royale continued in production, as possibly did the Rapide, until 1970-71. Several professional teams used the 531 Record and Ruberg framesets at this time, the Ruberg equipping a German professional team. Carlton was left to produce the sportier adult models for the first years of the 1970s, until the rise of the Raleigh professional team in the later 1970s.

Page 243, Fig. 37.3: After ‘Bernard Hinault’ insert ‘(centre) and Joop Zoetemelk (right)…’

Page 261, Fig. 38.39: Should read ‘Mike Mullett working on a wheel at the Skol 73 six-day races, with Jan LeGrand in the background.’

Page 264, column 3, last two paragraphs: Delete, including continuation of last paragraph into column 1 of page 265.

Page 319, Fig. 45.10: Should read ‘Sturmey-Archer advertisement stating that 1907 and 1908 Tour de France winner Lucien Petit-Breton used their three-speed hub gear in the 1913 race.’

Page 366, column 4, line 23: Should read ‘Drinkwater, Dave, 82, 169’

Tony Hadland
8 January 2014

2013 in review – Tony’s 16th year on the web

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog, which is the successor of, a website that went live in its first incarnation on 1st January 1998.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 59,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 22 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

New books from Shire on trick cycling and 1920s touring

Shire Books, famous for 50 years as publishers of affordable non-fiction paperbacks, has diversified its output since Oxford-based Osprey Publishing purchased it a few years ago. Among Shire’s recent releases are two reproductions of cycling books.

The older of the two books is Fancy Cycling by Isabel Marks, originally published in 1901. What the author means by “fancy cycling” is revealed in the subtitle: “Trick Riding for Amateurs”. The introductory chapter states that one of the many virtues of trick cycling is that no special garb is needed. Indeed, the book is liberally illustrated with photographs showing Victorian ladies and gents performing stunts on ordinary roadster bicycles while wearing the conventional clothing of the time, such as they might wear to go to church. The ladies all have ankle-length skirts and wear hats, some of which are quite elaborate.

The instruction starts with the relatively easy stuff, such as a near-side mount. Then we progress through side-riding, hands-off, side-saddle, unicorn driving (you’ll have to buy the book!), coasting on the handlebar, coasting on footrests on the front fork, coasting with knees on handlebar and feet on saddle, and much more. Ultimately, we reach the really exotic stunts, including the butterfly dance (in which – shock, horror – a lady is seen hatless!) and hoop skipping, where the cyclist combines skipping through a hoop while cycling. No mention of a risk assessment.

The book is a beautifully printed hardback of 116 pages, with numerous well reproduced photographs and even a couple of contemporary advertisements for bicycle makers. The unjacketed linen-bound hardback cover faithfully reproduces the design on the original, showing a male stunt rider on his bicycle, printed in black, white and gold on a claret background.

The author wrote of her book: “May my insignificant efforts be of some little service to the merry band of tricksters; may the track of their wheels be ever increasingly present in the land.” While we may not seek to emulate the tricks shown, the book is a delightful novelty and well worth the £7.99 suggested retail price. The ISBN number is 978-1-90840-271-4.

Fancy Cycling by Isabel Marks, reprinted by Shire.

Fancy Cycling by Isabel Marks, reprinted by Shire.

Another cycling book reproduced by Shire is a paperback publication, The Modern Cyclist, 1923, written by the famous cycling writer Kuklos. (His real name was William Fitzwater Wray.) It’s a touring guide, originally published as The Kuklos Annual, at a time when cycling had finally become cheap enough to be a mass leisure activity in the UK.

The guide comprises three parts, the first dealing with technicalities such as choosing a bicycle, riding position, cycling in traffic, variable gears, legal aspects, touring tips and bicycle maintenance. The second part comprises “potted tours” in Britain, Ireland and France. Kuklos’s comments are interesting, sometimes amusing and occasionally surprising. For example, writing just after the Anglo-Irish War, and possibly even during Irish Civil War, he makes no mention of either conflict, merely stating that “the Irish are the most charming, generous, warm-hearted, and courteous people in the world.” As for France, he tells us that you can order breakfast at almost any time you like, simply by requesting “un café-au-lait complet.” (I’m not sure that would work today!) French WCs “often leave something to be desired,” he notes, mercifully sparing us further details. The third part of the book is a rest house directory with over 3,000 addresses in Britain, Ireland and France.

There are three sorts of illustrations in the book. The first are the maps that appeared in the original book. There are also contemporary advertisements added by Shire books, and taken from Cycling magazine. Most evocative, and also taken from Cycling, are the line drawings showing romanticised scenes of cycling in idyllic countryside. They appear to be mostly by the famous artist Frank Patterson, although they are not credited to him.

With about 150 pages and a colour cover, The Modern Cyclist, 1923 gives a fascinating insight into mainstream cycling in the early inter-war years. It would make a good gift for almost anybody, but especially those with an interest in cycle touring and the few senior citizens old enough to recall that era. The original price was one shilling (5 pence) but today, after 90 years of inflation, you will need to hand over a still modest £6.99. The ISBN number is 978-1-90840-262-2.

The Modern Cyclist, 1923, by Kuklos, reprinted by Shire books.

The Modern Cyclist, 1923, by Kuklos, reprinted by Shire books.



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