The fourth Knutsford Great Race will celebrate the three styles of two-wheeler that preceded the modern bicycle:
The Hobby horse
BoneshakerThe first bicycle was invented by Baron von Drais in Germany, who called it a velocipede (speed-foot). It arrived in England in 1819, the year of Peterloo, and when copied by Denis Johnson of Covent Garden proved a craze among the dandies and the upper class. Sir John Leycester’s machine can still be seen at Tabley House, Knutsford. Although a few matches were made for wagers, the machine proved impractical as a means of transport or for racing and the fad died within the year.
Attempts were made over the next forty years to develop a practical velocipede but it was only in the late 1860s that the two-wheel pedal velocipede appeared in Paris. This started another craze and velocipede races were held all over France, England, America and the civilised world. In July 1870, the Knutsford Annual Athletic Meeting included a velocipede race around the Heath. Enthusiasm was again short lived but this time technical improvements, particularly the wire tension wheel, enabled the boneshaker as it soon became referred to, to morph into the elegant and practical high wheel bicycle.