1869 Velocipede by Ledwidge of Dublin, Ireland


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1869 Velocipede

Maker: P. Ledwidge, 32 Amiens St, Dublin, Ireland

Front wheel 35″

Rear wheel 30″

This velocipede was purchased from a gentleman in Northern Ireland who inherited from his Uncle George who had died aged 103. George was photographed with this machine in a parade soon after World War 2 – you can see it further down the page.

A surprising quantity of velocipedes have survived over the past 150 years, but few of the survivors have a maker’s plate or ‘cartouche’ (stamping or engraving) to identify them. This Ledwidge is stamped on both sides of the backbone, though the one on the right side is more prominent.

The Ledwidge is well-made, and quite lightweight. It seems to be styled after French velocipedes rather than English machines. The wheels on it at the moment are poor replicas, made some decades ago. It is possible to have new wheels built from scratch at a wheelwright’s shop.

This velocipede has wonderful provenance, with a mention of Ledwidge its maker in the ‘English Mechanic’ magazine of May 28, 1869, and the picture of Uncle George sitting on it in the late 1940s. It is one of three known survivors, the others being in museums in Dublin, Ireland and Canterbury, England.


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