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Hobby-Horse Bicycle - Long Acre, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.862 W 000° 07.328
30U E 699678 N 5710953
Quick Description: This City of Westminster green plaque, to Dennis Johnson and his hobby-horse bicycle, is located on the south east side of Long Acre at the junction with Drury Lane. The first hobby-horse bicycle was made and sold in 1819.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 11/26/2014 3:52:05 AM
Waymark Code: WMMYWA
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Norfolk12
Views: 1

Long Description:

The Old Bike website tells us about the hobby-horse bike:

Long Acre’s most famous cycle manufacturer is Denis Johnson, who had a workshop at 69-75, Acre House. His Hobby Horse – he called it apedestrian curricle – was an improved version of the German Draisene, invented by Karl Drais. This forerunner of the bicycle was also known as aSwift Walker. He made at least 320 machines in early 1819 and, in May of that year, introduced a dropped-frame version for ladies to accommodate their long skirts. He also opened riding schools in the Strand and Soho.

For about six months the machine had a high profile in London and elsewhere, its principal riders being the Regency dandies. About eighty prints were produced in London, depicting the ‘hobby-horse’ and its users, not always in a flattering light. Johnson’s son undertook a tour of England in the spring of 1819 to exhibit and publicise the item. Nevertheless, by the summer of the same year the craze was dying out, and a health warning against the continued use of the velocipede was issued by the London Surgeons.

In Johnson’s machine, like that of von Drais, propulsion was simply by ‘swift walking’, with the rider striking his (or her) feet on the ground alternately. However, it led directly (albeit after a long delay) to the invention of the bicycle in the 1860s, when rotary cranks and pedals were attached to the front-wheel hub of a machine based on Johnson’s.

Blue Plaque managing agency: City of Westminster

Individual Recognized: Denis Johnson and the Hobby-Horse Bicycle

Physical Address:
69-75 Long Acre
London, United Kingdom


Web Address: [Web Link]

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