NotesThe history of the Edworthy family's Sydney cycling business goes back to Edward Edworthy, born c. 1858 in Newport, Monmouthshire, in Wales. He worked his passage to Australia as a marine engineer, arriving in Sydney in 1882. Six years later Edward joined the Engineers' Branch of the NSW Railways and worked as a fitter at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. He was later posted to Lithgow in 1889, where he oversaw railway bridge construction. Edward stayed with the railways until 1895 and returned to Sydney the following year. He opened his first bicycle shop at 97 Western Road, Rozelle, thereby commencing the long history of the Edworthy Cycle & Motor Works in Sydney. This store was used until 1917.
Edward left his two sons Jack and Silas to look after the bicycle shop in Rozelle and opened a dental surgery in Newtown. Silas Edworthy had been born in Lithgow in 1889. He was keenly interested in cycling and from about 1906 built bicycles and repaired motorcycles. He also competed in numerous cycling races and won a number of medals between 1909 and 1910. At the age of 21 Silas was the 1911 NSW State Road Racing champion.
By 1917 Silas Edworthy had moved into another shop at 576 Parramatta Road, Petersham. The building remains today at the top of Taverners Hill. A large two storey corner building at 625-631 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, was another store he used; it probably had an upstairs residence. Business was booming so, in the early 1920s, Silas opened yet another shop at 60-60a Joseph Street, Lidcombe, which was later managed by one of his sons, Lionel. This was advantageously located opposite the finish of the famous Goulburn to Sydney bicycle endurance race, which was undertaken by many famous riders including Sir Hubert Opperman (Oppy). In the 1930s Silas left another of his sons, Iver, to manage the Lidcombe shop and moved back to Leichhardt, where he had a pair of two-storey shops built, with residences behind, at 597-599 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt.
Between 1932 and 1936 Silas built two miniature bicycles, a single and tandem, for the monkey circus at Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney. As with all his bicycles, the Edworthy monkey bicycles were hand-made. The frames were made from metal bicycle tubing by bronze welding using coal gas mixed with air from a set of foot-operated blacksmith's bellows. The frames were sprayed with enamel paint, and fancy scrollwork was added by hand. After the artwork was completed it was 'baked on'.
An advertisement dated 22 March 1934 stated that Edworthy cycles were 'all hand finished, not built by machinery for quickness and cheapness. They are also hand filed, not dry blasted by machine, which will eat the tubing and lugs away. There is a difference between cycles built to order, like a machine made suit and one hand finished. So order your next cycle at Edworthy's and see it being built. We have been specializing in cycles for over thirty years. We do not get an old traded-in crock and put 'built by us' on the bar, as done by others close by'.
The monkey bicycles were only a very small part of the Edworthy production. Many well-known riders of the 1920s and 30s, such as Frank Andrews, Bob Porter, Fred McMartin, Joe Phillips and Jack Hagney, rode to victory on Edworthy racing bicycles. The firm sponsored bicycle races, provided the prizes and organised social riding outings. In 1934 Silas built and patented a special bicycle frame which had two loops added, one in the cross bar and one in the down tube. He called this design the 'Spring Frame', the idea being that the loops dampened the shock of the rough dirt surfaces on long road races such as from Goulburn to Sydney.
The company made children's bicycles and tricycles with cushion tyres, rubber grips and spring saddles. It also made delivery bicycles, and one built with a steel box carrier at the front was called the 'Edworthy slick delivery wagon.' A tricycle with a large carrier box between the two front wheels was marketed as the 'Edworthy Express Wagon'. The company also fitted pram and scooter tyres, and restored and repaired bicycles by brazing, nickel plating, enamelling, bar bending and wheel building. For the motorist, it reconditioned magnetos and batteries.
The Edworthy firm was agent for numerous motorcycle firms including Harley Davidson, Indian, AJS, Sunbeam and BSA. It diversified further by hiring cars, motorcycles and bicycles, and even building and repairing trotting sulkies and invalids' chairs to order.