I was in Cambridge last week for a couple of meetings. It’s a glorious city. The buildings reek of history and tradition, the streets are filled with bright folk lost in dreamy thought and the river carries its languorous cargo of students and tourists in pole-driven punts, as depicted in this poster from the NRM collection:
And then there’s the bicycles. Cambridge is teeming with them, and whilst I’m all for cycle-friendly streets, I need eyes in the back of my head when I want to cross the road…
Most Cambridge bikes are pretty ordinary, but occasionally something special appears. Here’s a great picture of the ‘Cambridge Duad’ in 1895:
Here he is again that year, this time on a more conventional two-seat tandem:
Half a century on, the technology seems barely to have changed. We’ve a handful of tandems in our historic bikes collection, including this lightweight touring model by Rensch from 1948:
For Charles Rolls, though, history was to be cut tragically short. Besides his cycling and motoring, he was also a pioneering aviator. In 1910, at an air tournament at Bournemouth, Rolls was killed performing a complex aerial manoeuvre. He was just 32.