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Cycling before pneumatic tyres were invented

Velocipedes aka Boneshakers!



The Dundee Advertiser of Friday 26 May 1882 reported:

‘A Bicycle Club called the Blairgowrie Bicycle Club was formed on Tuesday, and the following were appointed office-bearers:- Captain, W.Robertson; Sub Captain, A.Meekie; Bugler, A.Robertson; Secretary and Treasurer, W.McDonald; Committee, R.S.Murray, A.Dewar, F.Henry, J.McDonald and A.Barnett.’

Bearing in mind that John Boyd Dunlop of Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, introduced pneumatic tyres in 1887, it is likely that members of this early cycling club rode on Velocipedes, otherwise known as Boneshakers. As the name implies, they were extremely uncomfortable due to the stiff wrought iron frame and wooden wheels with iron surrounds.

Photo of The Macpherson family - courtesy of the late Sir William Macpherson


It was the practice in most early cycling clubs for the Bugler to give instructions to members when out on a run. John A.R.Macdonald in ‘The History of Blairgowrie’ published in 1899 reported that the Blairgowrie Bicycle Club was ‘ in a very flourishing condition'. The same could be said of cycling in the area today.

Mark Ian Macleod Beaumont BEM was born in Blairgowrie in 1983. He is a long distance cyclist, broadcaster and author. He holds the record for completing a round the world cycling trip in 2017.

For more about the role of the Bugler watch

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