Penny-farthing fun for pupils

Neil Laughton, secretary of the Penny Farthing Club
Neil Laughton, secretary of the Penny Farthing Club

Children found out just how high a penny-farthing is when they tried out the early bicycle as part of their On the Move project.

Normally, you have to be more than 1.6m (5ft 2in) tall to even think of riding a penny-farthing, so it was quite an experience for the year-one pupils at Upper Beeding Primary School.

Children then had the opportunity to sit on the penny-farthing and experience how high it is

Children then had the opportunity to sit on the penny-farthing and experience how high it is

Adventurer Neil Laughton, who is secretary of the Penny Farthing Club, rode the late 19th century bicycle to the school, dressed in clothes from the period.

Debbie Gilpin, key stage one leader, said: “He told the children about the history of the penny-farthing and then demonstrated how to ride it, riding it around the school hall.

“Children then had the opportunity to sit on the penny-farthing and experience how high it is.”

The first all-metal velocipedes were developed during the 1870s. The pedals were attached to the front wheel, which became larger as makers realised its size increased the speed and distance of travel with one rotation of the pedals. The long spokes and solid rubber tyres gave a smoother ride than the earlier boneshaker.

Year-one pupils watch Neil riding around the hall at Upper Beeding Primary School

Year-one pupils watch Neil riding around the hall at Upper Beeding Primary School

This type of velocipede was the first to be called a bicycle, meaning two wheels, and its shape led to the nickname penny-farthing in the UK.

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