Historical information

In 1903, an article in the Box Hill 'Reporter' noted that the Kew Flyer Cycle business had been started in 1893 by Harry F. Cooper, and that he was "the oldest cycle maker in the district". By 1903, the Kew Flyer business was located at 8 (later 14) Cotham Road where it was to remain an institution until its closure. In 1910, W.D. Vaughan, in his 'Jubilee History of Kew, Victoria' wrote that: "Several cycling clubs have been born and died, suffering chiefly from the migration of the leading spirits in the organisations, but since 1900 the ‘Kew Flyer’ road race, instituted by Mr. H. F. Cooper, has been the cycling event of the year among local riders. It is run on the White Horse Road at Blackburn." Early newspaper reports recorded the distance of the race as initially 10 miles but by 1906, the event extended to 15 miles, starting from the Travellers' Rest Hotel in Blackburn. Cooper's Kew Flyer business in Cotham Road introduced new technologies and models throughout its 56-years of operation. By 1908, it was claimed that the shop had been enlarged with new "workshops and [the] latest lathes and cycle building tools. [it] Is now one of the most up-to-date Cycle Works in Victoria". By the First World War, Cooper had expanded his business to include motorbikes with "Precision Engines". The Kew Flyer business and the annual road races continued through the War, even though a number of its staff left for the front. One of these was [Pte] Robert Charles Field Richardson, who joined the 6th Battalion, fought and was wounded at Gallipoli, and died of wounds in Alexandria, Egypt in 1915. In 1917, the death of Private H.S. Herbert was announced. He had been the winner of the Kew Flyer Cycle Road Race in 1913. He died in action in France, having fought at Gallipoli and at the Battle of Pozieres. The majority of bicycles advertised by Cooper were designed for men, although bikes for women and 'juveniles' were advertised as early as 1918, so they were probably manufactured throughout the period. Harry Cooper was to sell his Kew Flyer business in 1936, after 39 years of trading. The business he began continued until 1949.

Significance

This is an historically significant and rare 1920s Kew Flyer Cycle in intact condition, with most of the original paintwork preserved on the frame. Harry F Cooper, who was the manufacturer of the cycle had a retail business and a factory in Kew. He promoted the Kew Flyer Road Race which was the most important trader-run cycle event in Victoria from 1900 to his retirement in 1936.

Physical description

An unrestored Kew Flyer Women's Roadster ca 1920, donated to the Kew Historical Society by John Wyatt in 2017. Original paint work and logo on the loop frame in navy blue, blue and gold, featuring Egyptian influences in the painted design . The rubber sprung saddle was made by Dunlop and has a serial number on a plate at the rear. The loop frame is original. Most of the cycle, on an initial evaluation following the donation were judged to be original, but with the addition of a later mudguard, reflector and chain guard. These have now been removed.

Inscriptions & markings

Kew Flyer