29th Jun, 2022

Call for statue of bicycle inventor in Coventry

Felix Nobes 3rd Aug, 2018 Updated: 3rd Aug, 2018

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for a statue of the inventor of the modern bicycle for City of Culture 2021.

The Coventry Society has renewed its call of four years ago for a monument to John Kemp Starley.

The society’s Paul Maddocks has suggested the statue could be placed outside the revamped Coventry train station.

John Kemp Starley was the nephew of the much celebrated pioneering cycle industrialist James Starley – who is remembered with a memorial in the city.

But John is lesser known, despite inventing the modern bicycle as we know it.

The campaign call of 2014 came to nothing and has now been resurrected after Coventry landed the coveted UK City of Culture status.

The Coventry Society has updated its proposal and created a graphic novel/comic out of John’s story, calling it the ‘Forgotten Man’.

Vice-chairman Paul Maddocks said: “Coventry is looking forward to the City of Culture in 2021 and it will be an ideal opportunity to let the world know that Coventry was once known as the cycle capital of the world.

“The modern safety cycle was invented here. But not many know who invented it – as there is no monument to him.

“It would be great if a statue near to the railway station was erected in the new developments.

“So when visitors and student come to this city from all around the world they will get to know Coventry’s link with cycling history.”

John, born in 1854, is credited with creating the ‘modern safety cycle’ in his Coventry factory – a model which has been emulated and replicated all over the world.

In 1876 John opened his own cycle company with William Sutton – the Starley and Sutton Meteor Works in West Orchards, Coventry.

His uncle James Starley became known as the ‘Father of the Cycle Industry’ after he invented the penny-farthing in London.

But after criticism of the cycle as dangerous, it was John who modernised the idea and made it safe for widespread use.

He reached his final design in 1888 – one which would become the blueprint for all modern cycles, the “Rover Safety Cycle”.

After his idea gained him a small fortune, he died in 1901 at the age of 46 and was buried in London Road Cemetery, London Road, Coventry.

His company continued to grow and started making cars in 1904.

Production of Rover Cars continued until the end of the marque in 2005.

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