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The Metropolitan Machinists’ Co

February 17, 2015
by the gentle author

The plethora of bicycle shops around Spitalfields today is not a new phenomenon as confirmed by this 1896 catalogue for The Metropolitan Machinists’ Co, yet another of the lost trades of Bishopsgate, reproduced courtesy of the Bishopsgate Institute

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. February 17, 2015

    Since I’m a cyclist, I love these! It’s interesting that the Brooks saddle continues to this day. And the locks and chains are very similar. But that helmet really stands out, since it looks to be little more than a cap.

    I’m glad that cycling has stood the test of time though… and universally people are discovering the great alternative to the automobile.

  2. February 17, 2015

    Styles change, but bikes still enjoy huge popularity, in London as in most other places on the globe. Thanks for sharing the old ads! Valerie

  3. Stephen Schwarz permalink
    February 17, 2015

    Cover is an example of ‘artistic printing’, in vogue at the time and promoted by the ‘Printers International Specimen Exchange’, which is worth a Google. Hard to see at this resolution how the illustrations are printed but they don’t quite look like engravings or letterpress halftones. Cowells did have an innovative facsimile process.

  4. Richard permalink
    February 17, 2015

    Glory days of cycling. Such fantastic invention. Love the rifle clips and the bugle.

  5. February 17, 2015

    Oh my; the Tweed Runners would most likely kill for a selection from that catalogue!

  6. Pauline Taylor permalink
    February 17, 2015

    I can remember many of these things being in my father’s workshop, happy memories as we all had bicycles then, and my first ones even had those strange lamps, but cycling was quite hard work as we had no gears which meant that we dreaded steep hills. The advice to cyclists brings back memories as well as my father taught me never to cycle in the gutter, one of those wise things which is completely forgotten by most cyclists now. Overtaking vehicles on the inside by cycling between them and the kerb seems to be the norm, and is extremely dangerous.

  7. annie s permalink
    February 17, 2015

    I love the address of the company – George and Catherine Wheel Alley!
    I don’t think it exists any more?

  8. February 17, 2015

    Fantastic! If only one could receive some of these old accessories! — The advertising is from 1896, the year my Grandfather was born …

    Love & Peace

  9. Pauline Taylor permalink
    February 17, 2015

    I have just remembered, the lamps were called carbide cycle lamps I believe.


  10. Bob D permalink
    February 17, 2015

    A fortune surely awaits whoever adapts the diamond frame luggage carrier to transporting a ukulele.

  11. Gary Arber permalink
    February 17, 2015

    As a child I used to play with one of those old cycle lamps. They were deadly.
    You had a tank in which you put some calcium carbide you added some water and closed it quickly. The carbide reacted with the water and produced acetylene gas which burned with a bright light. My lamp finally exploded breaking two windows and burning my hands.

  12. Simon Cross permalink
    February 18, 2015

    I would be very happy with a tweed cape for 28p!

  13. paulDay permalink
    February 19, 2015

    I think youll find the lamps are oil, with a wind up wick. even earlier than carbide.
    would love any of the stuff in that catalogue

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