The Bicycle Adventures of A G Johnson

On the afternoon of Saturday 1st July 1882, 16-year old Arthur George Johnson took to the road on his high wheeler, bound for a two-night stay at Elbow Lane Farm in Hertford Heath. At 26 miles from his home in London, he arrived “rather tired”; it was, he wrote “my first longest ride in one afternoon”. 

Over the next 3½ years, young Johnson recorded the fascinating details of his rides in the meticulous handwriting common in that era. They certainly were adventures, having to brave road surfaces of such variable quality that we can barely imagine these days, brakes that made the descent of even moderate hills hazardous, hostile cart and carriage drivers (nothing much changes), runaway horses, street urchins and drunken soldiers, even bed bugs in his Brighton digs, and of course the ever-present danger of an imperial header. None of this stopped Johnson and his friend C H Button riding from London all the way up to North Wales and back for their 1884 summer tour or paying frequent visits to the celebrated Anchor at Ripley. 

Cycling History (Publishing) is pleased to present a high-quality facsimile of the diaries, thanks to financial support from the Cycling History & Education Trust (CHET) charity. The Bicycle Adventures of A G Johnson offers a rare insight for the modern reader into the world of Victorian high-wheeling. The diaries will soon be available for purchase online at for £25 plus £3.75 postage and packing.

Rick Howard picture archive

Three cycle tourists, circa 1890
Three cyclists tourists, circa 1890. Rick Howard picture archive/Cycling History & Educational Trust

Many of the photographs on this site come from the extensive Rick Howard picture archive, a number of which have been digitised. More will be placed on this website in due course.

The Trust purchased a substantial part of Rick Howard’s collection at the Dominic Winter auction sale on 7th November 2017. The bulk of the collection features 19th Century cyclists and cycles, but there are also catalogue covers and 20th Century images too.

Stone Age cyclists, circa 1885

We requested some information about Rick’s collection from his good friend David Piggott of the Veteran-Cycle Club and how Rick (25th April 1944 – 9th June 2015 )started to collect cycling photographs.  David contacted Rick’s widow, Eileen, who provided the following information.

From a young age Rick was very keen on motorcycles and had progressed to large Japanese Superbikes in the late 1970’s. On one ride to Brighton on the day of a Pioneer Run he saw the Veteran Motorbikes and decided they looked like good fun and decided to try and find one.

Over the next couple of years, he bought a V twin Vindec Special and a single cylinder Zundapp so he could enter the Pioneer Run, he was then offered a Wall Autowheel attached to an Edwardian bicycle and got interested in the bicycles as well.

Many of us motorcyclists were members of the Huntsman Motorcycle Club at Eridge in East Sussex only 3 miles away from Rick’s house, so due to the drink driving laws Rick and a few others decided to use the old bicycles to go to the Huntsman Inn every Tuesday.

From that beginning it was decided to go on Tony Killick’s Veteran Cycle Time trial, from that, by the late 1980’s Rick and about 6 others (including me) had joined the V-CC and the bug had been caught. From the Edwardian and later cycles our interest and especially Rick’s turned to pre 1900 cycles.

From that interest Rick accumulated a large collection of early bicycle and tricycles and along with his motorbikes quickly filled up the space available, so over the next few years, cycling ephemera took over the veteran cycling collecting bug, including lamps, enamel signs, trade displays and eventually period cycling photographs and cycle catalogues, with Eileen also having a lovely collection of skirt clips and costume. Rick spent the next 20 years or going to auctions, cycle jumbles and private collections looking for photographs, chasing leads whenever they cropped up and buying everything from a single photo to individual collections.

At the time of his tragically early death, Rick had built up a truly remarkable early cycle related photographic collection along with a museum quality collection of all things cycle related.