This morning I went to the Coventry Transport Museum, while Paula plotted some decorative enhancements on Pegotty. First of all, it should be the Road Transport Museum, as all the vehicles there have wheels. But, if bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, and cars are your thing, then this is the place to be. Coventry has a long history of vehicle manufacturing, first with bicycles then with motor vehicles. Jaguar is still headquartered here (though now owned by an Indian company) but the last mass production car factory here closed a decade ago. I got a sense of past glories, seeing all the many and varied cars and motorcycles, mostly restored to pristine condition but never likely to be driven again.
The bicycles were fun, though. Here’s a few of my faves.
A bicycle made for two.
This was quite a provocative design. The frame for the front saddle was designed for someone wearing a skirt, which means that the woman would be steering. What a revolutionary concept!
A tricycle with a differential gear.
For those of you who are not mechanics, a differential gear means that when you are going round a corner, the wheel on the outside goes faster than the wheel on the inside. All cars have them, but putting one on a trike seems like over engineering.
This is a racing bike from 1889. It was the first bicycle ever to have pneumatic tires.
The crotches of generations of cyclists give thanks. Of course the tires are flat now, and they could do with new inner tubes…
This vehicle held the world land speed record for a while. It’s an airplane engine on wheels (aluminium wheels, because rubber tires would fly apart from the stress of spinning so fast) and made it up to 633mph.
It’s successor ThrustSSC, made by the same team, is just around the corner, but was too big to photograph as it has two jet engines. It got to 763mph, faster than the speed of sound, and was driven by an ex-RAF fighter pilot, who had the control panel laid out like the Phantom jets he was used to.
Then there’s this guy.
This statue started out in the 1400s representing some warrior saint, possibly Saint George. However, by the mid 1700s he had been repurposed as the Peeping Tom of the Godiva legend. That part of the legend is younger than the statue, so we know he was not always Peeping Tom. After being on display in various places over the centuries he has finally ended up in a glass case in a shopping center, where he stares out the window forever at Lady Godiva’s bum.
That would be all well and good if this really was Peeping Tom, but I wonder what Saint George thinks about the view.