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National Cycle Collection

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1953. Mr. Tom Norton.
1982. Mr. Ray Fixter.
Mr. James (Jim) Maynard at Castle Hill, Lincoln, with a sprung wheel cycle later sold by the Raleigh Co at auction for £125, 000.
2012. Anthony (Tony) Pickering on a Penny Farthing from his own collection.
Final Catalogue/ Booklet.
Workshop at Brayford Wharf Premises.
Rear Wall display.
Belton Cycle Museum.

National Cycle Collection, The Automobile Palace, Temple Street, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5DL, Mid Wales. Tel: 01597 825531.

[1] Web site.

Charitable Organisation No.511257 is an amalgamation of three major UK cycle collections;

  • The Tom Norton,
  • David Higman and
  • The National Cycle Museum of Lincoln.

David Higman, from Oswestry, Shropshire was involved with the formation of the National Collection now housed in the Automobile Palace, and in 2006 was awarded an MBE for services to tourism. He retired at the age of seventy years in 2010 after holding the position of Curator since the NCC opened in 1997.

The National Cycle Museum originally a collection housed in a stable block at Belton House near Grantham was the brain-child of Ray Fixter of Boston, Lincolnshire in 1978.

Ray Fixter was a prominent member of the Boston Veteran Bicycle Club and Long Sutton and District Veteran Cycle Club. By 1978 he had established in a stable block at Belton House north of Grantham, a cycle museum open to the general public and cycle enthusiasts. Part of the agreement between the owners of Belton House and Fixter was that whilse an admission charge was levied to visit the estate, all of the other attractions i.e. the house, Cycle Museum, Museum of the Horse, the Orangery and grounds were to be free of charge. This arrangement suited the owners of the Belton estate as other than the Cycle Museum they owned the other attractions, thus the only income the Cycle Museum ( Fixter ) received was from a Donation Box conveniently positioned inside the display area. This obvious lack of funds did not deter Fixter who worked tirelessly to improve the display of artefacts and machines, and publicize his venture.

In 1979 he registered the Museum with the Charities Trust, No.511257 and renamed the project The National Cycle Museum.

It was opened on the 26th April 1980, by Michael Montague, chairman of the English Tourist Board with exhibits from Ray’s own collection, the Raleigh collection, Science Museum and various private individuals. Amongst the treasured museum exhibits at this time were three extremely rare ‘Otto’ bicycles, of 1880c. Two from the Raleigh collection, the third and most original from the Harold Scott collection, together with a comprehensive collection of Scott’s UK cycle club badges.

The oldest machine, on loan from T.I.Raleigh was a large original Hobby Horse together with approximately thirty other of their machines. The Science Museum loaned their Dublin tricycle, ‘the’ McCammon Safety, the only known example, a large tandem tricycle of an unknown make, a Humber tricycle and a Lindley & Biggs ‘Whippet.’ By 1982 the collection numbered well over one hundred machines, half of which were before the turn of the century, and it was growing with regular donated machines received from the public.

After the death of Fixter in 1983, three colleagues James Maynard (of Boston), Edward Skeet (of Grantham) and Anthony Pickering (of Leicester) took over the Museum, officially registered it as a Company but within a short time were forced to seek new premises due to Belton House becoming a National Trust property.

The ‘three’ then invited David Mander - Desford Lane Pedallers VCC, Mack Mumford, - Belton Museum VCC, Laurie Nunn - Lincoln CTC and John Scholes – Boston VBC, to join them as Trustees.

At their first meeting, Maynard became the Trust Secretary and Pickering the Trustees Chairman. By March 1984 the Council had secured premises at the Brayford Pool complex (once a Discotheque) and alterations to the inside of the premises were completed by September 1984. In October, at a meeting with the Lincoln council a grant from the Council was agreed for the daily overheads and general running costs, which included the staffing of the museum.

Sponsorship and premises provided by the City of Lincoln, allowed the Museum to open in September 1984 at a converted Disco, in Brayford Wharf.

Admission charges were 30p per adult and 15p per child.

In 1986, the NCM together with Lincoln City Council hosted, in keeping with Ray Fixter’s ideal’s the Sixth International Rally. It was at this event that the foundation of the current International Veteran Cycle Association was established.

New exhibits were purchased, the first being an early 1870’s torsion bar ‘Ariel’ Ordinary, which was discovered mounted to the ceiling of a discotheque at Rothley, Leicestershire. A further very desirable machine purchased from Sutton Bonnington, again in Leicestershire was a fine example of an 1884 Hillman, Herbert and Cooper ‘Kangaroo.’

One of the last major purchases whilst still at the Brayford premises, was a Victorian high wheel tricycle.

During it’s time at Lincoln, the museum had five curators :- Mora Page, Andrew Fielding, Andrew West, Serena Beeley (author in 1992 of the book entitled ‘A History of Bicycles ’ containing many photographs of the Museum’s machines and artefacts) and the last Lincoln based curator, Margaret Williams-Ball.

Forced to move in 1994 to very unsatisfactory premises at the Lawns Hospital in the City, the NCM survived for only two more years before finally closing its doors at Lincoln in 1996/7.

The Trustees in 1995 were James (who had taken over the role of Trust Secretary from Maynard) Skeet, Mumford, Willis, Nunn, Millward and Finney, all soon to be joined by a local Councillor, Richardson.

Upon vacating the old Hospital premises, there followed an abortive attempt to move to Sheffield before the then Trustee’s of the NCM secured a satisfactory future with the National Cycle Collection, after negotiations with the Welsh Development Agency.

The National Cycle Collection is made up of three bicycle collections, and opened at the Automobile Palace in Llandrindod Wells in 1997. [1]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. A. H. C. Pickering