I’m imagining myself seated astute atop one of these outrageous ‘sociable tricycles.’ My partner sits beside me, her fingers dangerously close to the spinning forks at her side, watching the world fly by and tipping our caps to pedestrians below.
Every time I look at this 1882 Apollo Sociable Tricycle from Singer & Co., I laugh. I imagine late 19th-century travellers exercising circus-like balancing skills to keep from toppling over in an overdressed heap.
But somehow, they did it; at least for a little while.
Originally purchased in the early 1880s, the Apollo was dropped from catalogues as soon as 1886. Weighing in at about 73kg and with 117cm wheels, very few of these remain as its size made it very difficult to store. The tiny wheels at the very rear prevented the tricycle from tipping backwards as you accelerate and the design meant accidents were common.
This particular tricycle was shipped out to Australia from England as a gift from a loving Aunt in England. An expensive gift no doubt, one that would have cost approximately £36 in the 1880s for purchase alone (equivalent to about £4,116 or $7,360 in 2019).
Currently, the Apollo is part of the enormous range of bicycles on display at Shepparton Motor Museum as part of the Farren Collection. Regarded as the largest and rarest collection of bicycles in Australia, Paul and Charlie Farren’s significant vintage range covers every conceivable size, shape and style of bicycle and tricycle, spanning about 150 years. Most of their bikes are from before the year 1900, with the newest being made in approximately 1910.
Lucky locals will get the chance to experience many of these spectacular antiques in all their glory at the Shepparton Heritage Rally this Sunday, September 1. Dozens of bikes from the collection will be on display and there will even be riding demonstrations to test your balance and see how difficult it would have been to control these clunky beasts.
In news that’s extra exciting for local bicycle fans, Charlie Farren will also be in attendance for the heritage day, sharing stories of her many years as one of the world’s premier bicycle collectors.
Shepparton Heritage Rally promises to be a wonderful celebration of antiquity, with a huge range of heritage farm machinery and equipment, cars, aircraft, trucks and just about anything else old and motor-related to go on display alongside the great old bikes, both indoors and outdoors at Emerald Bank.
Throughout the day, there will also be blacksmithing demonstrations, horse and carriage rides, leatherwork, a tractor pull, and even an old printing press is on display. For more information on the Heritage Rally, visit www.bit.ly/2TYRK5.