A number of people on this website have mentioned seeing Bertie Peters of Dunton Road, riding his penny-farthing bicycle in Laindon. His daughter-in-law Anne Burton (my sister) has kindly supplied the two photographs that are shown here. Actually it was a slightly smaller model, thought to be known as a half-penny-farthing.
Bertie, a coachdriver, lived with his family in Dunton Road, on the left not far from the blacksmiths and just past the bridge, in a bungalow called ‘Phylbert’. The family’s original bungalow called ‘Elmbridge’ had stood at the far end on their large garden but was replaced in the twenties by ‘Phylbert’, a larger bungalow which stood at the front nearer to the road. Bertie’s wife Phyllis was a Laindon postwoman during the war years, working from the Denbigh Road depot in Laindon High Road.
It was their son Claude who acquired the penny-farthing when it was in a very poor condition. He took it to his place of work (Howard Rotavators, West Horndon) where he gradually restored it and when it was back in working condition, painted it bright orange. However, when the Manager there (John Howard himself) climbed aboard in an attempt to have a ride, he ‘came a cropper’. Oh dear! Apparently the technique isn’t easy to master.
Bertie sometimes rode it around the Laindon area attracting some interested onlookers. He also took part in the ‘riding a cycle backwards up Crown Hill’ races, although this was most probably on a regular push bike. This event was eventually stopped as it was considered too dangerous. Bertie and Phyllis moved to Methwold in Norfolk for a couple of years in the mid sixties. I attach a photograph of the family in the back garden of ‘Phylbert’ just prior to their move.
The penny-farthing went with them and Bertie continued to ride it around the Norfolk countryside. Even today one or two people in that area can still remember seeing him. Who could ever forget seeing such an unusual sight!
Just prior to moving back to Essex, Bertie sold the penny-farthing for £75. We hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of it.