1907 Abingdon King Dick Gents Tricycle
I bought this fine old tricycle from the British Cycling Museum in Camelford some years ago, before it closed down. It was on display there for many years (below).
It’s in good working order throughout.
HISTORY OF ABINGDON KING DICK
Abingdon King Dick, Abingdon Works, Tyseley, Birmingham
The company started in Birmingham, in 1856, as tool manufacturer Abingdon Engineering. ‘King Dick’ was added to the company name because their logo featured the owner’s bulldog – whose name was King Dick.
Like most other engineering companies in their area, they branched out into bicycles to cash in on the new cycling boom.
In 1903 they added motorcycles to their product range, using Fafnir, Minerva, Kerry and MMC engines (and subsequently their own Abingdon engines). Abingdon motorcycles continued in production until 1933 (from 1928 known as AKD), using single cylinder four-stroke motorcycles of 147cc to 346cc as well as a V-Twin. Abingdon engines also powered various other marques, including Ariel and Invicta.
In 1922, they started manufacturing cars too. However, only 12 Abingdon cars were built as they lost their main component supplier when it was taken over by Morris. As motorcycle sales were going well in the early twenties (most for the export market), it is assumed that the company considered car production not to be as financially viable.
The Abingdon axle was used by many tricycle manufacturers. According to the Tricycle Association: “The first axle was patented by James Starley, in 1877 for his ‘Royal Salvo Tricycle’. His son, William, improved on this in 1892, and it is this differential that is used in the Abingdon axle. There should be a small brass badge on the ‘housing’ that states ‘Starley’s Patent No 1752 1892’. Later axles have the brass badge, but it just boldly states ‘Abingdon’.”
[Tricycle Association – http://www.tricycleassociation.org.uk/Home.html%5D
The axle is illustrated below in the 1910 Brown Brothers catalogue:
Tricycles don’t have handbrakes for when you’re parked. But a piece of loose string around the handlebar works fine: you just pull it up to hold the front brake in place.
ABINGDON KING DICK TOOLS
Abingdon King Dick is still well-known for its tools, and the company still operates from the Birmingham area.
Early company history is described by Ron Geesin in ‘100 Years of Adjustable Spanners in Birmingham’ (although some of the dates are different from the company’s own historic commentary):
“Abingdon King Dick has a long history: Coxeter and Sons (bicycles, etc.) of Abingdon had become Abingdon Works Co. Ltd. by 1875; Albert Eadie Chain Co. had become ECCO (get it?) Works Ltd. in 1897; these two merged into Abingdon-Ecco Ltd. (bicycles, motorcycles, tools) in 1906, changing name to Abingdon Works Ltd. in 1920 and falling foul of Barclay’s Bank in 1930, instantly reforming to continue up to the present. The most amazing production by Abingdon-Ecco was the ‘OKEBA’ (Ab-Ecco, backwards!), a quick-adjust patented by Frederic Russell of Redditch in 1911. Complex in design, it is beautifully machined and far too regal to associate with a nut. The famous ‘KING DICK’ pocket-wrench design was born around 1906, really a modification of one by Lucas of 1890 which itself was probably copied from earlier American designs. Analysis of the metamorphosis of the ‘KING DICK’ design is as complicated as that of the ‘GIRDER’ and runs to many pages.” [http://madeinbirmingham.org/adjustablespanner.htm]
l-r: set of Abingdon King Dick; Abingdon-Ecco ‘Okeba’