Early Cycling days in the Hutt Valley

fanny mason
Fanny Mason, holding her wooden rimmed bicycle, about 1890
Hutt City Libraries collection
naenae lane brees early
Cyclists on Naenae Road ( Brees Street) in the early 1900s.  Hutt City Libraries collection.

Cycling became popular worldwide in the late 1800s and early 1900s and in the Hutt Valley residents were eager to cycle too. Cycles were fashionable, and expensive – top of the line models sold for around 20 pounds in 1900, an enormous sum. Cycle clubs began to form all over New Zealand. There was a lot of resistance to this new mode of transport, however. The ‘bicycle face’ was identified and widely written about in NZ and Britain – there may be some truth in this description of a ‘care-worn, strained look’ on the face of a cyclist – but now it’s probably related to avoiding traffic and pollution!

1897

The ‘bicycle face, the hideous stare’ is particularly unattractive in women apparently.

improving
women bicycle
own cycle

joke boy bike
Evening Post, 15 August 1896

bicycle face poem
Bruce Herald, 21 June 1898

Although the bicycle face might have no cure there was one for ladies suffering from what is now called ‘helmet hair’ advertised in national magazines – the ‘cyclist’ toupee.

lady
New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 January 1900
Cycle shops started in the Hutt Valley and one early repair shop was George Bradley’s Motor Works that repaired motor cars and cycles.

cycle shop - Copy brief
New Zealand Mail, 3 October 1906
1913 railway ave
View of Railway Avenue looking towards the railway station, about 1913.  Dual carriageway visible.  Hutt Central School is on the left.  Lance Hall photograph, Hutt City Libraries collection
07348
There were two separate stretches of cycle track in Railway Avenue, Lower Hutt – one between the railway station and the bridge on the south side, the other on the east side between King’s Crescent and the Park Avenue. 

When people cycled on the footpaths instead of the cycle tracks or roads there were complaints.

footpath
Evening Post, 27 September 1912
Likewise when cyclists used the roads instead of the cycle tracks they were often fined.
Hutt News, 11 July 1929
In 1935 the Borough Council deemed both cycle tracks dangerous as cyclists had to cross the traffic streams to access and leave the tracks.  The Council

No worries about ‘bicycle face’ or ‘helmet hair’ in this 1955 photo.

1955
1955 and a bicycle rack and a pile of bicycles outside the Riddiford Baths, Lower Hutt.   Evening Post newspaper. 

Ref: EP/1955/2219-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ /records/23138231

References

Digital NZ

National Library

Papers Past

National Library

Hutt City Libraries heritage photo collection

Kura

heritage collections online

Auckland City Libraries     

 

 

 

 

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