Welcome to my blog

It is quite an honor for me to have your visit in my blog. This blog is about antique bicycle, which i have collected during my visit to places in suburban areas. These bicycles were sold at a very cheap price to me by the vendors, who were actually not pure vendors. They were just a "hand over" people. They handed over theirs to me just to make sure that theirs will be for collection only. And not for sell nor thorn a part for cannibalism.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gentlement Hercules Popular 23″ Gent’s Roadster 1923

The frame serial number VH 12741,
bought on 15 May 2011, the eight hunt.

A Hercules Steer

The Emblem of Hercules

Hercules Gear

ROC Paddles


Monday, May 9, 2011

Ladies Union Germany

Frame Serial Number 32709,
bought in August 2010, the third hunting

The Background Story

This bicycle was found in my third antique bicycle hunting. Actually, I was trying to find a gentlement bicycle, instead of a ladies bicycle, of which it was should to be given to Jocelyn Tomasowa, my father. But, on that day there were no good antique gentlement bicycle to be found. Anyway, I made a deal with my father, that for the time being this ladies bicycle is owned by him. But, if i am able to find a gentlement bicycle in the near future, then i will trade that gentlement bicycle with his. Therefore, I bought this ladies bicycle and it was my first experience carrying a bicycle by using airplane. I had to turn apart this bicycle and used polygon box as its package.


Frame Serial Number

The two first numbers are 32, resembled the year of production, 1932.

The typical loop, which is not Hercules nor Phillips

Paddles Union Made in Germany

The Break System

Phillips Wheel Core

The Gear

Ladies Royal de Luxe, A British made, 1934

Frame Serial Number 3400741,
bought on 24th April 2011, the seventh hunting

The Background Story

The search for this bicycle was on request by Joyce Tomasowa, my aunty. She wanted to have one antique bicycle. Therefore, i and my husband were on hunting for it.


The Emblem of Royal de Luxe

Frame Serial Number

The Loop

Friday, May 6, 2011

Gentlement Warewell British Made dated 1890

Frame Serial Number is under the bottom bracket shell,
bought in May 2010, First Hunting.

This bicycle is my husband first antique bicycle. He bought it for transportation to his office, since there was no transportation from his residence to the office. This bicycle condition is still good and well maintained by the previous owner.

History of Cogent - Wearwell - Wulfruna

It is made in England, in corporation between Cogent & Wearwell.


Henry Clarke

Henry Clarke, a skilled wheelwright and blacksmith joined the 38th Foot Regiment in 1855, at the outbreak of the Crimean War. He was wounded in the attack on Redan, and subsequently discharged. On making his way home via Paris, he saw his first bicycles. These would have been hobby horses with wooden wheels, which were very similar to the carriage wheels that Henry was familiar with. He realised that he could easily make this type of wheel himself and so he made contact with some of the French manufacturers who were interested in his skills. When he returned to Wolverhampton he set up the 'Temple Street Wheel Company' to make all kinds of wooden wheels for export to France, including some for velocipedes.

At around the same time he married Harriet Powney from Wombourne and they had four daughters and five sons.

Being a skilled blacksmith he soon picked up the necessary skills to build complete bicycles and decided to manufacture them himself.

In 1868 he founded the 'Cogent Cycle Company' in Darlington Street, and was joined by his five sons; Tom, George, William, Jack, and Henry. The first Cogent machines appeared in 1869 and sold extremely well.

By 1877 'Cogent Penny Farthings' were selling at prices from £8 to £10 and the company was very successfully producing many different models. Hubs were made in two halves and when built-up secured the spokes, and rounded case hardened cone bearings helped to reduce friction.

Bessie Clarke riding an early Cogent tricycle in about 1870. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
A short description from "Bicycles of the Year 1877" by Harry Hewitt Griffin:

"The Cogent.- Henry Clarke, Cogent Bicycle Works, Darlington Street, Wolverhampton. In days of bone shakers Henry Clarke was well known as a maker, and he cannot fail to have gained great experience as to how a bicycle ought to be built. An improved form of rounded cone bearing is adopted, which appears to be superior to the ordinary; the working parts being of case hardened steel, friction is therefore greatly reduced; the hub is double (something like Deacon's), and put on in halves, in which the spokes are firmly secured. Small good rubber pedals on flat cranks are used, and the Stanley head is employed. The handles are low and in front of the neck. The spring is of a good shape and very pliable. A 50in. machine weighs about 44lb. Hollow backbones are in every case employed. The machine is finished half bright, and will be found a very fair all round bicycle. The Spider is made at £2 less."

View the 1883 Cogent catalogue

An advert from 1877.

The Cogent No. 20 tricycle from 1887. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
The company also produced a number of tricycles.

The 'Cogent' No.20 of 1887, sold for £15.10s.0d. It had ball bearings, a large front wheel to reduce vibration, and a hollow steel frame, part plated with an enamel finish.

The 'Cogent' No.5 high wheeler had seven eighths of an inch, and three quarters of an inch non-slipping tyres. The wheels had Crescent rims, and 60 and 20, No.11 direct spokes. The back wheel was 16 inches in diameter, and the large wheel had four and a quarter inch G.M. Hubs, and a ten and a quarter inch axle. The bicycle had rat-trap coned pedals, and the cranks had a throw of five and a quarter inches. The machine cost £4.10s.0d.
The Cogent No. 5 ordinary from 1887. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The Cogent No. 18 safety from 1887 priced at £12.10s. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
In the early 1880's the so called safety bicycles appeared. They were the modern type of machine with a rear-wheel drive.

The penny farthing then became known as the 'Ordinary' bicycle. The machine shown here is the 'Cogent' No.18. The wheels had ball-bearings, and the chain was adjustable. The frame was part plated and enamelled.

The 'Gent's Popular' had a weldless steel tube frame, 28inch wheels, rubber or rat trap pedals and was finished in black enamel. The machine was priced at £5.17s.6d.

The Cogent Gent's Popular. Courtesy of the late Jim

The Cogent Ladies' Popular. Courtesy of the late Jim

The Ladies' Popular' had a weldless steel tube frame, 26inch wheels and was finished in black enamel. The machine was priced at £6.5s.0d.
The following is a short description of the Cogent No. 10 from "Bicycles & Tricycles of the Year 1889" by Harry Hewitt Griffin:

"The Cogent No. 10 Dwarf Safety Roadster (H. Clarke's Executors, Darlington Street, Wolverhampton). The framing is composed of strong double tubing, with extra long centres; the chain adjustment is effected by drawing forward by a set screw on the slotted fork end. The curve of the front forks brings the handles well back. The machine has no striking peculiarity, but is well and reliably made, and is to be depended on. It is finished with all the usual details, including direct plunger brake, and with balls all parts, etc. The price is £16.10s."

Wearwell's works at 46 Darlington Street.

In the 1881 census Henry Clarke is listed as living at Darlington Street, Court 2 with his wife Harriet, sons Henry, William, and John; and daughters Elizabeth, Jane, Fanny, Harriet, and Emma. His occupation is given as a bicycle maker employing 3 men and one boy. Presumably his other sons, Tom and George, had left home by this time.

Henry Clarke senior died in 1889 at the age of 56, and one of his sons took over the running of the business. This appears to have been unacceptable to the other brothers, and so Joseph Parker took over for the executors. This resulted in Tom Clarke leaving for Manchester, where he set up the Express Cycle Company, while William, Jack, Henry and George founded Wearwell.

William became Managing Director, and the works were situated at 46 Darlington Street, a stone's throw from Cogent, which eventually went into liquidation. It seems that Cogent ran for at least ten years after the formation of Wearwell, trading as Henry Clarke's Exors. This can be seen from the date on the poster below.

The 1893 Wearwell tricycle. Courtesy of
the late Jim Boulton.
Wearwell listed 9 Models in 1893, including the standard cross frame safety bicycle, which sold for £10 with solid tyres, or £10.10s.0d with cushion tyres. There was also a tricycle that cost £23 with solid tyres, or £29.10s.0d with Dunlop pneumatics.

The most expensive machine, the model 'A' had a double tubed frame and was claimed to be the strongest on the market. The bicycle included ball bearing hubs, a Reynolds Roller Chain and sold for £18 with solid tyres, or £23.10s with pneumatic tyres.

View the 1893
Wearwell catalogue

The following description of the company is from the "Illustrated Towns of England Business Review of Wolverhampton" from 1897:

Henry Clarke's Exors., "Cogent" Cycle Works. A firm that has gained distinction in the cycle trade in Wolverhampton is that of Henry Clarke's Exors., widely known as the Cogent Cycle Works. The enterprise was founded in 1868, and has had a career of prosperity, and the evolution of the cycle from the old bone-shaker to the splendid machines now in the market, has been due to such enterprise and inventive skill as has characterized this firm.

We may state that the year 1896 proved one of unprecedented success for this firm, the demand for their machines being considerably in excess over former years, in fact, the resources of the establishment were frequently taxed to meet the increased trade. In consideration of this expansion, additions in plant, machinery, and apparatus have been made and also extensions in the factories to enable the firm to execute the anticipated greater demand. The works are prominently situated and splendidly equipped with the best improved machinery and appliances.

The productions are notable for elegance of design, quality of material, superior workmanship and finish; while prices are consistently low, in fact, this firm prides it upon its ability to supply a machine of unsurpassed excellence at the lowest possible price. They are built with the celebrated seamless steel tubes, the bearings are made from the most reliable steel, and the gearing and fittings throughout are of the finest quality. Either racers or roadsters, for ladies, gentlemen, or youths are manufactured upon the most scientifical principles and improved construction. For specifications and prices an illustrated catalogue may be obtained from the firm.

The Cogent cycles have won golden opinions from the most competent judges and experts, testimonials being received from all quarters as to their special merits. An extensive export trade is done, whilst in the home markets the Cogent cycles are duly appreciated. An adequate staff of experienced artisans finds constant employment, and no efforts are spared by Mr. J. Parker, the manager, to enhance the reputation of the firm.

William Clarke, Managing Director of Wearwell Cycles.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

From the 1893 catalogue.

Sales continued to grow and the company soon became one of the most important cycle manufacturers in the town.

In 1899 William Clarke had the idea of producing powered vehicles. He formed the Wearwell Motor Carriage Company, and opened new premises in Pountney Street on the site that is now occupied by J. W. Braithwaite & Son Ltd, bookbinders.

They produced a 4 wheeled, powered vehicle which had two Butler, two and a quarter horse power engines, mounted side by side. It was not generally liked.

This photograph, which came from Albert Clarke's collection, was given to us by Geoff Stevens. It shows a small part of the Wearwell works in Pountney Street during construction.

The street was originally made up of mainly housing, which was slowly replaced by factories as the area became industrialised.

The Wearwell works eventually covered much of the site that's now occupied by Braithwaites. The photograph shows the original building nearing completion. The houses on each side would eventually disappear as the works were extended.

The engraving on the company's letterhead gives a good impression of the large area covered by the works.
William saw the early Stevens brothers' motorised bicycle and realised that this was the way forward. The company already had links with the Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company, who supplied spokes and screws for the bicycles.

An agreement was entered with Stevens and a contract drawn-up. Stevens agreed to supply a minimum number of engines each week, which were fitted to heavy duty bicycles.

The new motorcycles were called Wearwell-Stevens machines, and sales were very good.

See the motorcycle section for more details.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clarke with a 1901 Wearwell-Stevens motorcyle. Photo courtesy of the late Geoff Stevens.
The model B from 1893. The basic bicycle with solid tyres weighed 38lbs and sold for £16. Dunlop pneumatic tyres were £5 extra and a Carter's gear case could be fitted for another £3.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

A ladies cycle from the 1893 Wearwell catalogue.

Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The Wearwell Road Racer.

By 1905 the company was displaying about 15 models. There was a 7 guinea gentleman's roadster machine, with Crabbe back and front brakes, Micrometer, Hyde, or Crabbe free-wheel, Brampton's chain and Clincher B, or Warwick tyres. The machine was finished in black enamel and gold lining. The ladies version cost £7.12s.6d. There was also a path racing machine weighing 19 pounds and a road racer which weighed 21 and a half pounds.
The model 'B' weighed 38 pounds, and sold for £16 with solid tyres. Dunlop pneumatics were an extra £5 and a Carter's Gear Case cost another £3.
By 1908 about 500 machines were produced each week, many of which were exported. One of the main importers was Holland, from where orders of up to 10,000 cycles were not uncommon, with machines being sold for as little as 27 shillings each. At the same time the company produced about 20 Wolf motorcycles per week.

Another very different product were 4 wheeled and 2 wheeled roller skates. At the time roller skating was extremely popular and most towns had at least one skating rink. Wearwell designed a skate with rubber shock absorbers and about 500 pairs a week were sold. 2 wheeled versions were also widely used and Wearwell produced a version of their own.

Disaster struck in 1909 when it was discovered that the Company Secretary, Mr. King, had been using the company's money to gamble at pool in a local public house. A large sum of money had disappeared, which led to the company going into liquidation in 1911. Mr. King tried to commit suicide, but William Clarke did not bring any criminal charges against him, because he discovered that one of his brothers was also involved.
The company manufactured and distributed Pickard's Patent Lining Apparatus, as can be seen from this advert from 1917.

Read about Pickard's
lining apparatus

An advert from 1921. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

After the liquidation, William Clarke purchased the ailing Wulfruna Cycle Company from John Barratt. He revitalised the business and reintroduced the Wearwell and Wolf names at Eagle works in Great Brickkiln Street.

William died in 1922 and the business was sold to Theo Waine in 1928.

Some members of the Clarke family continued in the motorcycle business. Jack joined the Stevens Company in 1911 and became manager, and Albert, who was Henry's grandson joined H.R.D in 1925 as works manager, when one of their machines won the Isle of Man T.T.


Wearwell England Emblem

A wheel with a pair of wings is the Emblem if Warewell. And under it, it is written England.

The Lamp Holder

The lamp holder has "W" sign as a symbol for Wearwell

The "Star" Gear

The paddle