1922 Rudge-Whitworth No. 2 Aero-Special Lady’s Featherweight
SPECIALLY APPOINTED TO H.M THE KING
PRINCE ALBERT, Duke of York— ‘Bertie’ to the family — was the second son of King George V. He attended the Royal Naval College, Osborne, as a naval cadet in 1909. The following year, with the death of Edward VII and his father becoming George V, he became second in line to the throne. In 1914 he began service in WW1, and was mentioned in dispatches for his action as a turret officer aboard Collingwood in the Battle of Jutland (May-June 1916), the largest naval engagement of the war). He transferred to the Royal Air Force upon its establishment in 1918 and was the first member of the royal family to be certified as a fully qualified pilot. He married Elizabeth in 1923, and became King George VI unexpectedly in 1936 as a result of his older brother Edward’s abdication. He died in 1952, and was succeeded by the current Queen Elizabeth in 1953.
PRINCE HENRY, born in 1900, was the third son of King George V, and his title was H.R.H Prince Henry of York. Unlike his brothers who joined the Royal Navy, Prince Henry joined the Army, attending the Royal Military College at Sandhurst in 1919. He later served with The King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the 10th Royal Hussars before retiring from the active list in 1937. He became H.R.H the Duke of Gloucester in 1928. With the outbreak of WW2, he joined the British Expeditionary Force as Chief Liaison Officer, and was slightly wounded when his staff car was attacked from the air. He became Governor-General of Australia in 1944, serving until 1947.
1922 Rudge-Whitworth No. 2 Aero-Special Lady’s Featherweight Bicycle
with Rudge-Whitworth Patent Coupled Brakes
and Celluloid Handlebars and Pedal Cranks
The Aero Special Lady’s Featherweight, was a revolutionary design when it was introduced in 1903. Lightweight frames were not new: advances in tube construction meant that frames became lighter each year through the 189os, reaching a peak just after the turn of the century. Light weight was particularly important, of course, for racing machines. But Rudge-Whitworth applied the technology to its lady’s bicycles, perfecting the technique with the introduction of the Aero-Special in 1903. It surprises people in the 21st century that a lady’s bicycle over a century old could be so light. As Rudge-Whitworth declared in their 1903 catalogue:
This superb machine is the highest achievement in High-grade cycle construction. Its extraordinary light weight has been attained by scientific calculation and research, and there has been no sacrifice of stability or elegance of design.
The Aero Special model continued from 1903 to 1922 with only minor changes: the celluloid chaincase was changed to a full metal chaincase postwar; roller lever brakes became an option to inverted levers in 1906; and in 1912 the front mudguard gained a forward extension. Otherwise, the 1922 model was the same as prewar, except for a price increase from 9 guineas (1915) to £16 10/- and the name ‘Featherweight’ added to its title. (By 1924, reflecting the resumption of full production after WW1, the price of the Lady’s Aero Special had settled down to £9 17/- 6d). The Aero model name was still in use when the company was sold in 1934.
This example is fitted with ‘coupled brakes’ which first appeared in Rudge-Whitworth’s 1906 catalogue:
A Rolling Lever is operated by either or both hands, and applies both Back and Front Rim Brakes at the same time. It is very powerful but can also be very delicately applied.
It has a ‘coupled brakes’ transfer on the rear mudguard, and the transfer on the down tube states:
‘Rudge Whitworth Patents: Spring Coupled Brakes’
This machine was obviously well cared-for throughout its life, because the original box lining is intact over much of the bicycle, its transfers are in good condition, and the Rudge Whitworth head badge still has red paint on its Hand. Apart from a missing end cap on the right side pedal, everything is in good order. The Aero-Special Featherweight has been mechanically restored and is ready to ride.
1922 RUDGE-WHITWORTH CATALOGUE
RUDGE-WHITWORTH PATENT COUPLED BRAKES
ABOVE: 1906 CATALOGUE EXTRACT FOR ‘ROLLING LEVER COMBINATION RIM BRAKES’
ABOVE: 1928 CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION FOR ‘COUPLED BRAKES’
1906 RUDGE-WHITWORTH AERO SPECIAL LADIES BICYCLE