Changing Times: Speedy Cycles

Guest contributor Criggie offered up this little historical snapshot for our viewing:

We’ve got this picture as a poster-print on the wall of our bike shed at work:

The photo was originally from the National Archives, and bears this text:

Speedy Cyclists: Christchurch, New Zealand, circa 1914.    “Jack Suckling (center right with watch chain) and cyclists outside Speedy Cycle Works, Manchester Street. Champion cyclist Phil O’Shea is third from right.” Photo by Adam Maclay.

The shop was at 114 Manchester Street (more recently hosting the Two Fat Indians restaurant pre-quake), and here’s what it looked like back in August 2015:

A bit worse for wear…

Such was its state that it even made Council’s “dirty 30” list of post-quake eyesores. Now here it is in August 2018:

The start of something new?

It’s hard to appreciate how much cycling was a really big deal here over 100 years ago; people were hungry for bike racing, cycle touring, social rides and indeed for assisting them with important social movements. Places like Speedy Cycle Works were important social hubs of the day. One wonders what the next 100 years of biking will bring (and which current places around Christchurch we will associate with this…).

11 thoughts on “Changing Times: Speedy Cycles”

  1. Hi
    I’ve just been looking at the pictures of the speedy cycle shop in Christchurch.
    I have a Speedy bicycle, its a BSA fittings bike that I can date to around 1907.
    Its just been restored and has its ‘Speedy bicycle’ emblem on the headtube.

    Would you like some photos?

    Giles Blay

    1. Hello Giles
      Speedy Bicycles

      I have just come across your post on the “Cycling in Christchurch” website re your 1907 Speedy. I bought a Speedy in 1993 at a local school fair. At that stage I did not know any other Christchurch bicycle collectors. Because it had BSA fittings I thought that was what it was. It languished in my shed for a few years. During that time I gathered up a few more antique bikes and did get to know quite a number of interested people.

      One day one of these collectors rang me in great excitement and said, “I have just bought a Speedy and that bike of yours is a Speedy too”. We had heard of Speedys but neither of us had seen one. over the next few years I collected period parts to replace later additions, had everything renickled and generally restored it. After that I acquired five more over a number of years. Two of those I have sold. I know of others in the hands of collectors. In total I have come across fifteen; yours would make sixteen. I have recorded the frame number of each one. I have a definite date of manufacture for one of these and possibly a correct date for another one which was on ‘Trade Me’ some years ago. From there I have tried to calculate the dates of some of the others. (Fortunately Speedy seemed to use sequential frame numbers.). I would love to know what frame number you have.

      Yes, I would love some photos.

      Doug Watkinson

      1. Hi Doug,
        Do you have an email address that I can send them to please. I have some before and after photos of the restoration.

        Cheers Giles

      2. Hey Doug, lost your email address, trying to identify a frame with a very faint decal outline in the headtube. Pete McLeod 0221739442

      3. Hi Doug I have a speedy track bike it has a frame number which is really hard to see possibly ending in 27 i can send photos of it would like to know how old it is. Regards. Steve

      4. Hi Doug, just wondering if you can date my Speedy (Fleet Cycles decals) # 171
        Deric Sevier 022 4126889

      1. Hi Daniel,

        Would love to see your speedy to aid in identifying mine, I’ve sent you an email.


  2. i believe the great phil o”shea owned this shop whe i meet hin aca 1956ish he had a shop in riccaton rd chch he was a very small man if he did half the things my dad said he did he must had a heart like phar lap

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