The Dandy Chargers — or — The Velocipede Lives!

Over the past couple of weeks I have had communication via email and comments to my article, Of Velocipedes and Draisiennes — The Fall, with Mr. Roger Street. Mr. Street, it turns out, is not only a scholar of the early history of two-wheeled vehicles, but he is also the Captain of The Dandy Chargers, a group of like-minded enthusiasts who make appearances around Britain on their modern velocipede replicas, in period costume.

However, I realized my communication with Captain Street is buried in comments to an article which is no longer on the main page of The Redingote, and there may be many of you who might be interested in knowing more about The Dandy Chargers and their upcoming appearances during their 2011 season.

Mr. Street recently presented a paper entitled Who Killed Cock Robin:   The Early Demise of the Pedestrian Hobby-Horse, at the International Cycling History Conference held in Prague, last fall. It will be published in the forthcoming Proceedings of the 21st International Cycling History Conference, for those who might like to read it. You should be able to get a copy through your local library, once it has been published. Mr. Street reported that his paper was well received at the conference, and I was pleased to know that there is still interest in the Pedestrian Hobby-Horse, or what Georgette Heyer called the "Pedestrian Curricle," in her delightful Regency novel, Frederica.

In addition to his recent paper, Mr. Street has published a new book, Dashing Dandies:   The English Hobby-Horse Craze of 1819. He explained that this is a newly revised and expanded edition of his previous book, The Pedestrian Hobby-Horse. This revised edition includes new material and many color illustrations. For those who would like to know more about his books, or acquire their own copies, he has set up a web site for his imprint, Artesius Publications, where you can get more details or place your orders.

As Captain of The Dandy Chargers, Mr. Street has advised me this is their eleventh season together. They have a special celebration of their tenth anniversary planned for the weekend of 30 April to 1 May 2011. On Saturday, they will be in Cheltenham, which will also be hosting a Jazz Festival. They are planning a walking tour of the city, and a visit to the nearby Snowshill Manor, which houses an eclectic collection of objects, including a number of early wooden velocipedes. On Sunday, they will meet at the Pittville Pump Room in Pittville Park, from where they will ride through the park, in costume, their route taking them around a lake, through a tunnel and around a second lake. It promises to be an enjoyable day for Regency devotees to watch The Dandy Chargers recreate the velocipede rides of our Regency ancestors.

The Dandy Chargers will make two additional appearances this season. On Sunday, 31 July 2011, they will again ride their velocipedes in period dress on the grounds of the National Trust property, the country house Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne. Their ride will begin at 2:30pm, allowing plenty of time to see the house before the velocipedists begin their excursion. Their final appearance will be on Sunday, 25 September 2011, at Stansted Park, near Chichester. This ride will begin at 1:00pm, with the gentlemen riding their pedestrian hobby-horses, while the ladies will join them, riding their Victorian tricycles. However, some of these ladies may be riding the brand new ladies’s version of replica velocipedes in the style of Denis Johnson, if they have been manufactured and delivered by that time. For those of you who will be in the vicinity of any these venues this year, and want to see velocipedes in use, as they might have been in the last year of the Regency, do see The Dandy Chargers in motion. For more details, you will find Roger Street’s email address in one of his comments to the Of Velocipedes and Draisiennes — The Fall post in the Transportation category of The Redingote. (I do not post fully distinguished email addresses as I have no wish to make things easy for those nasty automated email addy harvesters who are looking to spam us. Ruin a spammer’s day at every opportunity!).

For those of you who want your very own replica velocipede, I would suggest that you contact Captain Street for information about where The Dandy Chargers acquire their mounts. If you live in England and are interested in joining The Dandy Chargers, if you live on this side of the Atlantic and are planning to start your own group of velocipede riders, or, if you simply want a pedestrian curricle like the one Jessamy Merriville rode in Georgette Heyer’s novel Frederica, these replica velocipedes are just the thing. According to Captain Street, these replicas are based on those made by Denis Johnson, who was the foremost maker of velocipedes in Regency England. He even operated a velocipede riding school, probably the same one Jessamy attended before he took to the streets on his pedestrian curricle that fateful day in London.

If you cannot make it to Britain this year to see The Dandy Chargers in action, you can learn more about them on the net. Below are a set of links which will allow you to view Google search results for regular web search, image search and video search. You will find links to information on The Dandy Chargers for each set of results.

I am very honored to report that Captain Street has made me an honorary member of The Dandy Chargers, even though I live on the wrong side of the pond to be able to attend their events. But I will be with them in spirit.

"May your strides ever be long ones"
(The Dandy Chargers’ traditional greeting)

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About Kathryn Kane

Historian with a particular interest the English Regency era.   An avid reader of novels set in that time, holding strong opinions on the historical accuracy to be found in said novels.
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One Response to The Dandy Chargers — or — The Velocipede Lives!

  1. Pingback: Before the Bicycle by Roger Street | The Regency Redingote

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