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Bicycles in Louth

by Ruth Gatenby

Charlie Towle

Charlie Towle

Lady with her bicycle

Lady with her bicycle

In the late Victorian period, cycling became widespread in the UK.  Over the years there have been many cycle makers and retailers in and around Louth.  These include Charlie Towle in Legbourne (pictured here on his boneshaker bicycle that is now in Louth Museum); John Charles Grundy in Queen Street, his son John William Grundy in Eastgate; J P Hodgson in Mercer Row with workshop in Hurton’s Yard; J E Holmes and Lance Brown in Aswell Street; and Derek’s Cycles which became Bryan’s Cycles in Upgate. 

Did you know that there is a blue plaque on the wall by the shop that is now 106 Eastgate stating that in 1904, Currys, the electrical retailer, opened their first shop here as Louth Bicycle Company?  [After reading this blog post, a member of the Curry family contacted us to say that the store in Louth was not the first, as there was an earlier Currys cycle shop in Belgrave Gate, Leicester.]

The early cycles were not easy to ride.  Sometimes there were no brakes, or the brakes were ineffective.  Nobody wore a protective helmet, and there were numerous accidents.  The Lincolnshire Echo, 7 September 1898, reported that a cyclist lost control of his machine in Aswell Street.  He smashed into a window, cutting his face and hands badly.

The Boston Guardian, 19 September 1903, reported that on Sunday, a bricklayer named Watson borrowed a friend’s bicycle and sped down St Michael’s Road.  At the bottom he crashed into the boundary wall of the church, and he was picked up in an unconscious condition, his head having been severely lacerated.  The congregation was leaving the church at the time, and several persons narrowly escaped being knocked down.