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Morris, Wilson and Co

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1890 February. Exhibit at the 1890 Stanley Cycle Show. 'Referee'model.?
1890 February. Exhibit at the 1890 Stanley Cycle Show. 'Referee'model.?

of Farringdon Road, London

1890 Jan/Feb. The Stanley Exhibition of Cycles at the Crystal Palace. Showed the Referee model. Illustrated. [1]

Also see Referee Cycle Co



No. 29. (No image). Referee frame. Presented by G. L. Morris. Weight 8.75 lbs., minus bracket assembly. The triple head was designed by George Leonard Morris in 1891 (patent No. 11125) and was fitted to 'Referee' bicycles made by Morris, Wilson and Co, Turnmill Street, Farringdon Road, London, in that season and the following five years. This particular frame, with rectangular chain-stays and seat-stays, was built about 1896.

Note the particularly neat brazed-upseat-stays: the fixing bolt does not impinge directly against the seat-pillar, as would appear at first sight; between these is a shaped distance-piece, concave to fit snugly against the seat-pillar; this prevented the point of the fixing bolt from denting the seat-pillar.

The special section of the chain-stays gives a very rigid drive, while providing ample clearance between tyre and stay.

Illustrating the old adage that accidents materially influenced design in the early days, it is worth recalling that G. L. Morris thought out his "triple" head while in hospital recovering from a very serious accident caused by the fracture of the steering-post of a light bicycle which he was riding when pacing "Teddy" Hale in an attempt on the 100 miles road record.

Accompanying the exhibit is a letter from Morris in which he states that reduced prices killed the special features of his machine, which was expensive to build.

The 'Referee' was extremely popular among racing men and club riders. Morris himself was very successful on track and road, and was one of the first Englishmen to use the Dunlop pneumatic tyre. At the Surrey Bicycle Club race meeting at Kennington Oval on 19th April, 1890, he and F. W. Shorland were the only competitors with pneumatics: in the heats of the 1 mile open 'safety' handicap Morris lent his machine to J. N. Still and W. C. Jones, and used it himself, all three winning their heats from scratch.

In the final, Morris rode the pneumatic tyred 'Referee' and ran second to Shorland (90 yards) who won easily by 60 yards on a pneumatic tyred 'Geared Facile.' This was the first occasion on which the novel air tyre was seen on a London racing track, and the episode created a tremendous sensation. Reporting the incident, Bicycling News said:— "We understand that Jones and others would have ridden Pneumatics had they been able to get them, but we are told that the ‘Referee’ people, in common with other firms, are quite unable to procure the tyres, so it is fortunate that the whole trade of 1890 does not depend on a prompt supply of the new contrivance."

Morris was originally an amateur gymnast: as a boy, he joined the Polytechnic Institute in June, 1879, in order to indulge this hobby. In 1882 his friend Leonard H. Harris taught him to ride an 'ordinary' bicycle, the lessons taking place in the Polytechnic Gymnasium. He first raced in 1884, running second to Harry Bax in the Hanover B.C. members 5 miles scratch race at Lillie Bridge track. In 1885 the Hanover B.C. became the Polytechnic C.C. and Morris was elected captain. [2]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer of 7th February 1890 p107
  2. Bartleet's Bicycle Book