Ariel Ordinary Bicycle
Haynes and Jefferis James Starley
Coventry Transport Museum
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An example of a Ordinary or Penny Farthing bicycle. Manufactured by Messrs. Haynes & Jefferis of Coventry under licence from James Starley. It is the first all steel mass produced bicycle in Britain. The Ariel was first advertised in ""The English Mechanic"" 15th September 1871, the price was £8 or £12 with speed gear. The speed gear was an optional extra and could be fitted to the driving wheel. The idea of a gear was patented by James Starley and allowed the front wheel to revolve twice to each revolution of the crank. (Probably the first instance of the gearing principle.)
In the Ariel design James Starley also provided a means of adjusting the wire spokes, tensioners in the wheel. This was a method of tensioning the spokes after the wheel had been built, and by doing so prevented the large wheels from buckling. The idea wasn't very successful and the 'tension wheel' was thus short lived, although the Ariel itself went on to become a very popular bicycle.
For further information see pages 37 and 38 (No. 5) & Plate 14 of Bartleet's Bicycle Book.
Haynes & Jefferis were one of the first cycle manufacturers based in Coventry when the industry was in its infancy.
When James Starley left the Coventry Machinists Company in the early 1870s, he formed a partnership with colleague William Hillman, and together they developed and patented the ‘Ariel’ bicycle, based on improvements made to the French Michaux type velocipedes. Hillman soon went on to other things, and Starley went into partnership will the wealthy William Smith, to form Smith, Starley & Co.
In 1871, Smith and Starley entered into an agreement with a Mr. T. Haynes and Mr. J. Jefferis for them to make the Ariel bicycle under license at a factory at Spon End, Coventry. Starley and Smith received a royalty for each cycle sold while he continued to make sewing machines – a continuation of his earlier activities at the Coventry Machinists Company. Because of this agreement, Haynes & Jefferis became the first company in Coventry, and possibly Great Britain, to be sole manufacturers of cycles.
A number of notable individuals worked at Haynes & Jefferis in the company’s early years. J K Starley was given a position at the firm by his uncle, James Starley, in 1872. Thomas Bayliss, later of Bayliss, Thomas and Company worked also there for a time, as did Harry J. Lawson as manager before going on to things of much greater significance.
In 1880, George Woodcock bought the Haynes & Jefferis Company as well as other local cycle concerns while James Starley went on to form a separate cycle business with his sons. Woodcock then reorganised his new companies and merged them into the beginnings of what would later become the Rudge Cycle Company.