“It is often asserted that Frederick Savage was not an innovator
rather that he successfully exploited ideas presenting to him. There is little doubt, however, that his manually-propelled Velocipede roundabout, produced in the early 1860s, was a highly original invention, but one which he unfortunately neglected to patent. The earliest American example, exhibited incidentally in France, dates from 1869…
– ‘Savage of King’s Lynn: Inventor of machines & merry-go-rounds’ by David Braithwaite
One of the first British velocipedes was built by Joseph Cox of King’s Lynn in 1866.
King’s Lynn was one of England’s most important ports from as early as the 12th century, and it is believed that French velocipedes had arrived here in the 1860s, before Coventry Machinists Co started building them in 1869. As David Braithwaite states in his book: “The sport of velocipeding was well-established in Norfolk by the 1860s.”
Joseph Cox was also inspired by the new fairground roundabouts featuring velocipedes.
Norfolk was a bustling agricultural centre in the 1860s, and Frederick Savage of King’s Lynn was a leading builder of agricultural machinery, which he adapted to build fairground roundabouts. The Lynn Mart was one of Britain’s leading fairgounds, and the magazine ‘Lynn News’ reported a steam powered roundabout being displayed at the Mart in 1866. “It is generally accepted that this was a Velocipede machine built by Frederick Savage.” There is also a record of one of Savage’s machines being sold to local fairground operator Uriah Cheesman, who displayed it in King’s Lynn around the same time.
“Frederick Savage’s celebration of the velocipede – for most roundabouts celebrate some idea or another – consisted of a single row of 18 wheels, running in a grooved track, and propelled by the riders. Although attached to each other, a free-wheel mechanism compensated for differing energies, and each velocipede was tied to a centre cheese where the brakeman could, though not without some effort, control the length of the ride. Within a short time, 16-, 20- and 24-wheel ‘Circular Velocipedes’ were produced at the St Nicholas Ironworks.”