Cycles

Red Chopper Bicycle at the Cycle Exhibit at the Harlow Museum
Chopper close-up

What’s on display?

The museum is delighted to be the home of the excellent collection of bicycles which was caringly established by John Collins. The Collins collection, 68 bicycles, 34 of which are currently on display, highlights the evolution of cycles, from the earliest days of cycle design to modern models, as well as other cycle related memorabilia. Cycling has been part of Harlow’s DNA with cycle tracks being included in the very first designs of the New Town.

Photograph of Two Men and a Boy on Bicycles
John Collins shopfront in Old Harlow, 1904

John Collins

The Collins family were valued members of the community for over 230 years, having been wheelwrights, manufacturers and repairers of cycles and maintaining early radios and televisions for local residents. John Collins (1927 – 2001) collected bicycles from every period of cycle history and opened the ‘Mark Hall Cycle Museum’ in 1983. After acquiring the collection Harlow District Council merged both the Cycle Museum and Harlow Town Museum creating the Harlow Museum & Walled Gardens we all know and love today.

Cycle highlights

The collection displays some of the weird and wonderful bike designs which have been developed throughout history, not all the bikes within collection have the standard two wheels and one seat, it features an array of unusual bicycle designs including:

  • 1818 Hobby horse – one of only 12 originals surviving worldwide.
  • 1868 Meredith’s Boneshaker – An early example made in London with wooden wheels.
  • 1875 Penny Farthing – Also known as a ‘High Wheeler’, this bicycle has two different sized wheels.
  • 1898 Dunlop Quintette – A unique 5-seater racing bicycle.