Video: Vintage tricycle owner rides from Dedham to Hitcham to maker’s family
14:14 17 March 2014
He stopped by the side of the road to take a rest from riding his penny-farthing when a chance encounter revealed a wealth of history.
John Malseed, 69, from Dedham, has ridden and collected historic bicycles for more than 50 years and is often a memorable sight for residents through Suffolk and Essex villages.
But while on a penny-farthing in Hitcham, near Stowmarket, he was hailed by Marie Bull, who was driving through the village.
The 77-year-old, from Hitcham, decided to pull over and have a word with Mr Malseed.
Little did she know that at his Essex home he had stored a tricycle her great-grandfather, James Day, had built in 1869.
She said: “I had seen John riding in Hitcham recently and noticed this bicycle – a penny-farthing – it’s not something you see every day of the week.
“Then one day he was parked and had got off it and was standing by the Assembly Room and I stopped and said: ‘Lovely sight to see you on your penny-farthing on a Sunday’”.
The two got chatting and when Mrs Bull mentioned the tricycle Mr Malseed made the connection. They then arranged to meet back in Hitcham with her sister Eve Saunders and their families.
Mrs Bull added: “I thought it would have been slung up for scrap. I had no idea it was in existence. It was quite a shock – the sheer chance that there was a connection.”
Mr Day worked in a blacksmiths in Needham Market High Street and was well known in the area. When he died in 1919 the Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury published a piece on his life.
Mr Malseed bought the bike, called the Needham Market tricycle, in 1966 for £50.
He said: “It was a terrific amount of money and I was still in my teens, my father got the money together and I just went out and bought it and put it out on the road.
“I’ve just always been interested in them since I was young.
“My father went to southern Ireland on holiday in 1963 and the only thing he brought back was a penny-farthing. I have been collecting ever since.”
Among his collection are six penny-farthings and racing bikes. He has taken part in two coast-to-coast bike rides and also ridden in Europe.