“Few articles ever used by man have created so great a revolution in social conditions as the bicycle”
US Census Report 1900
Tuesday 31st of March, with no meeting scheduled for that day, men of the Diamond Creek OM:NI joined with a few from the Eltham group to take a very personal and privileged tour of the Farren Vintage Bicycle collection.
Take a no.78 or 79 tram along Church Street in Richmond, alight at Cotter Street and take a short 5 minute walk down the back streets on the Eastern side and you will come to a very unpretentious red brick building with a cream painted front facade.
Enter the alleyway at the rear and see a plain white door, there no signs and no numbers in evidence – nothing to indicate that it is no more than an ordinary building. Suddenly, on gaining entrance, you are immediately transported back one and a half centuries to a time of discovery and engineering marvels in the form of a unique collection of antique bicycles.
This incredible collection of antique bicycles and memorabilia is due to the dedication of Paul Farren and his wife Charlie who have been at the forefront of collecting veteran bicycles in Australia since the late 1970’s. He now has more than 200 bicycles in his personal collection in the museum which is renowned to be one of the finest in the world. It is a wonderful insight into the design developments of an era towards the end of the 19th century when there was an absolute explosion of ideas applied to a machine that we now call “the bicycle”.
We were taken through the history of the machine from the Hobby Horse to the Boneshaker, the rise of the famous Penny Farthing, the development of gears, chain drives, diamond frames, the pneumatic tyre and more. There were two wheeled machines, three wheel machines, two seat and four seat models, pedals that went round and those that were pumped, delivery bikes, bamboo bikes and to the delight of the cycling blokes – in pristine condition, a unique and original Omnicycle.
The visit was not complete without the tryout of a Penny Farthing, which, although proving quite a challenge to mount, was eventually achieved by three of the group – with just a little assistance.
“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it – if you live!”
Taming the Bicycle, Mark Twain.
“The mechanic said he couldn’t fix the brakes but has given me a much louder bell”
“The bicycle is the most civilised conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”