Episodes

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01

01The Most Civilised Conveyance2011020720130819 (BBC7)
20150420 (BBC7)
20150421 (BBC7)
20180528 (BBC7)
20180529 (BBC7)

From the beginning the bicycle has been far more than just a means of transport.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

The 19th century velocipedes were heavy, slow and expensive before an English engineer James Starley developed the high bicycle or penny farthing which overcame the difficulties of gearing and weight. Although these 'high bicycles' were dangerous and unstable they were eagerly taken up by fashionable young men who formed cycle clubs and took to the open road with gusto.

In the 1880's the safety bike arrived, it was very similar to the bikes of today, with a chain drive and smaller wheels anyone who could afford it could easily ride. The women who defied the dress codes of the day to ride in culottes or bloomers contributed to the emerging movement for women's suffrage and liberation.

Artists, musicians and writers found inspiration on two wheels and the socialist Clarion Cycle Club cycled to spread their message. Then, in World War One, cycle battalions went to France with bikes adapted to carry kit and rifles to the front. Between the wars mass production delivered bikes cheap enough for everyone and fuelled by the outdoor and fitness movements cycling entered into a golden age, the working classes now had the freedom of the open road.

After the war people once again took the road in freedom on the only transport available in the years of frugality. The 1960's brought prosperity, mass car ownership and a fascination with modernity and speed that didn't include cycling and bikes were left unused and rusting in garden sheds. Then a group of young people in California developed the mountain bike and again cycling became fashionable. A fashion for fitness was back on the agenda and there were the added incentives to reduce pollution and congestion in cities and seek more environmentally friendly ways of getting about. Today the bicycle is once again in the ascendency.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

The 19th century velocipedes were heavy, slow and expensive before an English engineer James Starley developed the high bicycle or penny farthing which overcame the difficulties of gearing and weight. Although these 'high bicycles' were dangerous and unstable they were eagerly taken up by fashionable young men who formed cycle clubs and took to the open road with gusto.

In the 1880's the safety bike arrived, it was very similar to the bikes of today, with a chain drive and smaller wheels anyone who could afford it could easily ride. The women who defied the dress codes of the day to ride in culottes or bloomers contributed to the emerging movement for women's suffrage and liberation.

Artists, musicians and writers found inspiration on two wheels and the socialist Clarion Cycle Club cycled to spread their message. Then, in World War One, cycle battalions went to France with bikes adapted to carry kit and rifles to the front. Between the wars mass production delivered bikes cheap enough for everyone and fuelled by the outdoor and fitness movements cycling entered into a golden age, the working classes now had the freedom of the open road.

After the war people once again took the road in freedom on the only transport available in the years of frugality. The 1960's brought prosperity, mass car ownership and a fascination with modernity and speed that didn't include cycling and bikes were left unused and rusting in garden sheds. Then a group of young people in California developed the mountain bike and again cycling became fashionable. A fashion for fitness was back on the agenda and there were the added incentives to reduce pollution and congestion in cities and seek more environmentally friendly ways of getting about. Today the bicycle is once again in the ascendency.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

The 19th century velocipedes were heavy, slow and expensive before an English engineer James Starley developed the high bicycle or penny farthing which overcame the difficulties of gearing and weight.

Although these 'high bicycles' were dangerous and unstable they were eagerly taken up by fashionable young men who formed cycle clubs and took to the open road with gusto.

In the 1880's the safety bike arrived, it was very similar to the bikes of today, with a chain drive and smaller wheels anyone who could afford it could easily ride.

The women who defied the dress codes of the day to ride in culottes or bloomers contributed to the emerging movement for women's suffrage and liberation.

Artists, musicians and writers found inspiration on two wheels and the socialist Clarion Cycle Club cycled to spread their message.

Then, in World War One, cycle battalions went to France with bikes adapted to carry kit and rifles to the front.

Between the wars mass production delivered bikes cheap enough for everyone and fuelled by the outdoor and fitness movements cycling entered into a golden age, the working classes now had the freedom of the open road.

After the war people once again took the road in freedom on the only transport available in the years of frugality.

The 1960's brought prosperity, mass car ownership and a fascination with modernity and speed that didn't include cycling and bikes were left unused and rusting in garden sheds.

Then a group of young people in California developed the mountain bike and again cycling became fashionable.

A fashion for fitness was back on the agenda and there were the added incentives to reduce pollution and congestion in cities and seek more environmentally friendly ways of getting about.

Today the bicycle is once again in the ascendency.

02Faster Than Legs2011020820130821 (BBC7)
20150421 (BBC7)
20150422 (BBC7)
20180529 (BBC7)
20180530 (BBC7)

Martin Ellis explores how Victorian ingenuity allowed the evolution of the bicycle.

Hobby Horses, velocipedes and penny farthings, the early evolution of the bicycle brought about by Victorian ingenuity and the developing engineering industry.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

Hobby Horses, velocipedes and penny farthings, the early evolution of the bicycle.

03British Genius2011020920130823 (BBC7)
20150422 (BBC7)
20150423 (BBC7)
20180530 (BBC7)
20180531 (BBC7)

The development of the safety bicycle allowed the wealthier classes to take to the road.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

Pneumatic tyres and the development of the safety bicycle allow the wealthier middle classes to take to the road in the bicycling craze of the late 19th century.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

The development of the safety bicycle allows everyone to take to the road.

03British Genius2011021520110209 (BBC7)
20130823 (BBC7)
20150422 (BBC7)
20150423 (BBC7)

The development of the safety bicycle allowed the wealthier classes to take to the road.

Pneumatic tyres and the development of the safety bicycle allow the wealthier middle classes to take to the road in the bicycling craze of the late 19th century.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

04Politics, Liberation And Emancipation2011021020130826 (BBC7)
20150423 (BBC7)
20150424 (BBC7)
20180531 (BBC7)
20180601 (BBC7)

How the bicycle became a tool for political pioneers, from suffragettes to socialism.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

Cycling, suffragettes and socialism, the new political pioneers of the open road as freedom of movement brings political freedom and the ability to campaign for your cause.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Cycling, suffragettes and socialism, political pioneers of the open road.

04Politics, Liberation And Emancipation2011021620110210 (BBC7)
20130826 (BBC7)
20150423 (BBC7)
20150424 (BBC7)

How the bicycle became a tool for political pioneers, from suffragettes to socialism.

Cycling, suffragettes and socialism, the new political pioneers of the open road as freedom of movement brings political freedom and the ability to campaign for your cause.

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

05The Open Road2011021120130828 (BBC7)
20150424 (BBC7)
20150425 (BBC7)
20180601 (BBC7)
20180602 (BBC7)

Martin Ellis catches up with famous early cyclists Edward Elgar and Vaughn Williams.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger all drew inspiration in the saddle along Conan Doyle whose detective Sherlock Holmes could identify a suspect by his tyre tread

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

The new craze for cycling inspires artists, musicians, writers, sportsmen and gamblers.

05The Open Road2011021720110211 (BBC7)
20130828 (BBC7)
20150424 (BBC7)
20150425 (BBC7)

Martin Ellis catches up with famous early cyclists Edward Elgar and Vaughn Williams.

Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger all drew inspiration in the saddle along Conan Doyle whose detective Sherlock Holmes could identify a suspect by his tyre tread

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

06Cycling Soldiers2011021420130830 (BBC7)
20150427 (BBC7)
20150428 (BBC7)
20180604 (BBC7)
20180605 (BBC7)

How the bicycle was used in war, when thousands signed up to join cyclist battalions.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

The bicycle is pressed into service in then Boer War and again in 1914 when thousands sign up to join Cyclist battalions who rode them to the front with full kit and rifles

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

The bicycle goes to war as thousands sign up to join cyclist battalions in 1914.

06Cycling Soldiers2011021820110214 (BBC7)
20130830 (BBC7)
20150427 (BBC7)
20150428 (BBC7)

The bicycle is pressed into service in then Boer War and again in 1914 when thousands sign up to join Cyclist battalions who rode them to the front with full kit and rifles

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

How the bicycle was used in war, when thousands signed up to join cyclist battalions.

07Between The Wars2011021520130902 (BBC7)
20150428 (BBC7)
20150429 (BBC7)
20180605 (BBC7)
20180606 (BBC7)

How mass produced bicycles brought freedom of the road to the working classes in the 1930s

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

The fitness and outdoor movements of the 1930's coupled with the advent of cheaper mass produced bicycles brought the freedom of the open road to the working classes

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Between the wars, mass produced cheaper bicycles brought cycling within reach of everyone.

07Between The Wars2011022120110215 (BBC7)
20130902 (BBC7)
20150428 (BBC7)
20150429 (BBC7)

How mass produced bicycles brought freedom of the road to the working classes in the 1930s

The fitness and outdoor movements of the 1930's coupled with the advent of cheaper mass produced bicycles brought the freedom of the open road to the working classes

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

08Frugal Years2011021620130904 (BBC7)
20150429 (BBC7)
20150430 (BBC7)
20180606 (BBC7)
20180607 (BBC7)

How the bicycle thrived during wartime, leading to a golden age of cycling in the 1950s.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

With petrol rationing during WW2 the bicycle came into its own again to be followed by a golden age of cycling in the 1950's as the nation emerges from the darkness of war

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

A golden age of cycling in the1950s as the nation emerges from the darkness of war.

08Frugal Years2011022220110216 (BBC7)
20130904 (BBC7)
20150429 (BBC7)
20150430 (BBC7)

How the bicycle thrived during wartime, leading to a golden age of cycling in the 1950s.

With petrol rationing during WW2 the bicycle came into its own again to be followed by a golden age of cycling in the 1950's as the nation emerges from the darkness of war

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

09Rise And Fall2011021720130906 (BBC7)
20150430 (BBC7)
20150501 (BBC7)
20180607 (BBC7)
20180608 (BBC7)

How increasing prosperity and car ownership challenged the bicycle's popularity in the 60s

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

Increasing prosperity and car ownership displaced the bicycle in the 1960's and foreign holidays replaced cycling, campsites and youth hostels. Bicycles belong to the past

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Bicycles fall out of favour in the 1960s as prosperity brings mass car ownership.

Increasing prosperity and car ownership displaced the bicycle in the 1960's and foreign holidays replaced cycling, campsites and youth hostels.

Bicycles belong to the past

09Rise And Fall2011022320110217 (BBC7)
20130906 (BBC7)
20150430 (BBC7)
20150501 (BBC7)

How increasing prosperity and car ownership challenged the bicycle's popularity in the 60s

Increasing prosperity and car ownership displaced the bicycle in the 1960's and foreign holidays replaced cycling, campsites and youth hostels. Bicycles belong to the past

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

10Renaissance2011021820180608 (BBC7)
20180609 (BBC7)

How innovations in design and changing social tastes mean the bike is back in fashion.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

10Rennaisance2011021820180608 (BBC7)
20180609 (BBC7)

How innovations in design and changing social tastes mean the bike is back in fashion.

Martin Ellis presents a history of the bicycle

The mountain bike arrives from California and coincides with a new fashion for fitness and concerns for the environment. Bikes are back in fashion for work and pleasure

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

10 LAST

10 LAST20110218

The mountain bike arrives from California and coincides with a new fashion for fitness and concerns for the environment.

Bikes are back in fashion for work and pleasure

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Bicycles are now back in fashion as a healthy, environmentally friendly option.

The mountain bike arrives from California and coincides with a new fashion for fitness and concerns for the environment. Bikes are back in fashion for work and pleasure

10 LASTRennaisance2011022420110218 (BBC7)
20130909 (BBC7)
20150501 (BBC7)
20150502 (BBC7)

The mountain bike arrives from California and coincides with a new fashion for fitness and concerns for the environment. Bikes are back in fashion for work and pleasure

Presenter: Martin Ellis

Producer: Simon Evans

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

How innovations in design and changing social tastes mean the bike is back in fashion.