Throwback Thursday: Eastbourne Cycling Club in 1880

Eastbourne Cycling Club in 1880. Photo courtesy of The Keep

Eastbourne Cycling Club in 1880. Photo courtesy of The Keep - Credit: Archant

These intrepid adventurers are showing off their penny farthings before setting off on a day’s ride

There’s only one way to lean on a penny-farthing and the man in the centre of our photograph is showing us how to do it!

The other members of Eastbourne Cycling Club may not have the profile or the charisma but they are doing their best. It’s about 1880, and short jackets, long socks and the club’s cap badge are essential to the day’s ride. Cycling was an expensive leisure pursuit, so a watch on a gold watch chain looks pretty good, too. It looks as though we’re seeing these cyclists just before they start. Perhaps their intrepid day ahead – maybe an Eastbourne to London ride? – is the reason for the photograph.

This image came to The Keep in a large collection of glass plate negatives formerly held at Eastbourne Library. We think it was taken by Frederick Arthur Bourne (1860-1921) who worked from the Rembrandt Studio at 19 Langney Road, Eastbourne, but beyond that we know very little, certainly not enough to put names to faces.

The popularity of the penny-farthing declined steadily from the mid-1880s with the introduction of the modern bicycle and its rubber, air-filled tyres. Less eye-catching, certainly, but at least you could get on your bike unaided.

This image is reference R/L/41/6/4/24 at The Keep

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