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Women as bike mechanics in the early 1900s

An interesting ad for Triumph Bicycles from 1906; the text reads:

The male mechanic in the workshop has proved himself infinitely superior to the female; he is capable of doing better, more exact, more reliable work.

Morally, mixed labor does not raise the standard of either worker, and considerably lowers the standard of the work produced.

Triumph Cycles, are made in a factory where no female labor whatever is employed. Female labor and best work do not go together therefore let your machine be a Triumph. “The Best Bicycle British Workmanship can produce,” and made by skilled male mechanics only.

The Triumph is the only Coventry Cycle Factory not employing female labor.  

It appears Triumph was not too interested in the female market at that time. Of course such an ad would not fly today, but it is an interesting look at history in an age before women even had the right to vote in the UK.

Below is a picture from the same era showing women working in a bicycle factory. Obviously not the Triumph Facility.

The pictures are from a piece in the Guardian Newspaper and part of a promotion for the Coventry Transport Museum exhibition celebrating the history and heroes of all kinds of competitive cycling. The exhibition runs from 22 June to 14 October 2012. My thanks to Tim Mullet for sending me the link.



Reader Comments (5)

Very interesting ad and to see such in print is appreciated.

But Dave it's time for you to talk (brag?) about the British invasion. Amazing performances by Team SKY and its stars: Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish.

More to come in a few days?

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

The BRITISH are coming! They have arrived. What joy to see TWO Brits on the podium. PLUS another, CAV win the bloody stage! It took a few, but as always the Brits came through. Next year IF the druggie Contador and the injured Schleck ANY ride, It will be a very interesting TDF.The Olympics start next week maybe some GOLD for the BRits in that?

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

Bicycles had been into people's lives since the early 1900s, and it had been improving even more. If all cars would be replaced by bicycles, this world would have been a better place to live in.

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercastors

Having been a bicycle mechanic long enough to become the "old guy" in the shop, i've had the opportunity to mentor quite a few youngsters interested in learning the trade. The lone female among then turned out to be the best wrench of the lot.

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Strong

Wow, harsh environment for women back then! They talk about women as if they were children.

Ironic that now children (girls and boys) make most of our electronics.

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Katz
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