Driven

Driven - Achieving through transport

Transport provides opportunities for people to perform above and beyond their own physical limitations.

This exhibition celebrates all kinds of achievements associated with transport, from the familiar and famous to the unusual and unexpected.

Opel German Bicycle 1914 − 1918

Opel German Bicycle 1914 − 1918

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Woman’s Bicycle

Woman’s Bicycle

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John Hanson’s ‘Round the World’ Bicycle

John Hanson’s ‘Round the World’ Bicycle

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Crosslé Mk III Racing Car

Crosslé Mk III Racing Car

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Polo Bicycle c.1920s

Polo Bicycle c.1920s

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McCandless Manx Norton Motorcycle 1952

McCandless Manx Norton Motorcycle 1952

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McCandless Mule

McCandless Mule

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Tom Herron’s Bianchi Motorcycle

Tom Herron’s Bianchi Motorcycle

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Davy Jones’s Car

Davy Jones’s Car

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DAWB 6 Touring Car

DAWB 6 Touring Car

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George Brockerton’s Bitza Motorcyle

George Brockerton’s Bitza Motorcyle

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Opel German Bicycle 1914 − 1918

Image: Opel German Bicycle 1914 − 1918
Opel German Bicycle 1914 − 1918

Feats

This bicycle was used by the German army in World War I. Unusually, springs were used for its tyres, as there was a shortage of rubber at the time. Bicycles were a very important means of transport during the war, enabling large numbers of troops to cover longer distances than would have been possible on foot. Eight Radfahr-Bataillonen (bicycle battalions) were active within the German army during the war.

Fortunes

The dents on the bicycle show that it had a hard working life during wartime. It was donated to the Belfast Museum & Art Gallery by the British War Office in 1920, which suggests that it had been seized from the defeated German forces.

 

Woman’s Bicycle

Image: Woman’s Bicycle
Woman’s Bicycle

Feats

From the 1890s it became acceptable for women to ride bicycles. For those lucky enough to have a bicycle, this changed their lives in subtle but significant ways. Here, at last, was a form of transport which did not require them to have the strength of a man. Here also was the chance to escape tight corsets and very long skirts, in favour of more practical clothing, such as bloomers and divided skirts. Young ladies also relished the opportunity to escape from their chaperones, and cycle either alone or with friends.

Fortunes

The role of the bicycle in the struggle for women’s rights has been underestimated. As Susan B. Anthony, the American campaigner for women’s rights, said in 1896: “the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.”

 

John Hanson’s ‘Round the World’ Bicycle

Image: John Hanson’s ‘Round the World’ Bicycle
John Hanson’s ‘Round the World’ Bicycle

Feats

Between 15 September 1981 and 17 September 1982, John Hanson (born 1953) undertook an epic journey on this Viking Clubman bicycle, made by Viking Cycles in Londonderry. Accompanied by John Rogers, he travelled across Europe, Asia and North America to raise money for the charity Tearfund. The pair cycled 13,000 miles (21,000 km) in total, averaging 50 miles (81 km) per day. They trained little before embarking on the journey, which was planned using a Philips School Atlas.

Fortunes

Just over £54,000 was raised for the charity, which went to help refugees from Northern Thailand who had fled unrest in the neighbouring country of Laos. Despite being robbed at gunpoint in Thailand, suffering from sickness and diarrhoea in India and coming off their bicycles in America, the intrepid cyclists enjoyed their journey and felt that it was relatively problem-free. John Hanson wrote a book − Around the World in Cycle Clips − about their adventures and he remains a keen cyclist.

 

Crosslé Mk III Racing Car

Image: Crosslé Mk III Racing Car
Crosslé Mk III Racing Car

Feats

John and Rosemary Crosslé founded the Crosslé Car Company in 1959. Their vehicles proved to be successful in races across the world, and a number of famous racing drivers, including Nigel Mansell, were trained in Crosslé cars. John Crosslé competed in some of his own cars and won several races in this Mk III.

Fortunes

Crosslé Car Company Ltd is still based in Holywood, County Down, and continues to build and repair racing cars. Highly skilled craftsmen at the company undertook a full restoration of this car before it went on display in this exhibition.

 

Polo Bicycle c.1920s

Image: Polo Bicycle c.1920s
Polo Bicycle c.1920s

Feats

This bicycle went on a journey from the road to the polo field. Polo is usually played by riders on horseback but, in 1891, Irish cyclist and publisher R.J. Mecredy invented the game of Bicycle Polo. The bicycle has been altered to suit the needs of the game, with the pedals being used for brakes and for moving backwards as well as forwards. The handlebars are covered with tape right up to the centre, to give the rider good grip anywhere along the handlebars. The bike frame is small, so the vehicle and rider have a low centre of gravity.

Fortunes

The game caused quite a stir when first invented: a quote in the Irish Cyclist from 1891 refers to it as ‘rare good fun’. Today it is played across the world, although the ‘Hardcourt Bike Polo’ version, played on surfaces such as tennis courts, has overtaken the traditional grass surface game.

 

McCandless Manx Norton Motorcycle 1952

Image: McCandless Manx Norton Motorcycle 1952
McCandless Manx Norton Motorcycle 1952

Feats

Rex McCandless (1915-1992) was a successful racer, who became concerned about handling problems with his Triumph motorbike. As an inventor, he was able to come up with a solution − the legendary ‘Featherbed’ frame. This frame was so strong and rigid that it did not twist like other frames, and so the motorbike was easier to control. Norton adopted the frame for use on all of its successful racing motorbikes, which dominated the sport worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s.

Fortunes

McCandless later turned his attention from motorbikes to cars and then to aeroplanes, as he felt that the British motorbike industry could no longer compete with that of the Japanese.

The ‘Featherbed’ frame continues to influence motorbike design today.

 

McCandless Mule

Image: McCandless Mule
McCandless Mule

Feats

A ‘go-anywhere’ vehicle uniquely incorporating 4-wheel drive, light weight, and low-cost construction and maintenance. Rear-mounted 500 cc Norton twin-cylinder engine drives through a 4-speed gear box and chain transmission.

Fortunes

Unorthodox diamond-pattern seating layout, with driver centrally placed, permits balanced loading either fully or partly occupied. Designed to carry four fully-armed troops. In the unlikely event of becoming ‘bogged-down’, capable of being man-handled out of trouble, weighing only 800 lbs (363 kg). Only two were built.

 

Tom Herron’s Bianchi Motorcycle

Image: Tom Herron’s Bianchi Motorcycle
Tom Herron’s Bianchi Motorcycle

Feats

Tom Herron (1948-1979), from Lisburn, County Down, was a successful Grand Prix racer in the 1970s. He was particularly admired because for most of his career he was a ‘privateer’, preparing his own vehicles for racing rather than being backed by a major motorcycle company. Herron purchased this Bianchi motorcycle from his uncle and converted it into his first racer.

Fortunes

In 1979, Tom Herron finally secured backing from Suzuki GB. Just months later his career was brought to a tragic end, following a serious crash in the North West 200. He died on what is known as ‘Black Saturday’, when the race claimed the lives of three riders. He was restoring this motorcycle to its original condition just before his death.

 

Davy Jones’s Car

Image: Davy Jones’s Car
Davy Jones’s Car

Feats

Lisburn-born Davy Jones was 2ft 2ins (67cm) high. He adapted this child’s Cheetah car for himself, by adding a lawnmower’s petrol engine. It was a familiar sight on the roads of Northern Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s, and in his fairground performances.

Fortunes

Davy Jones promoted himself as the ‘Living Leprechaun – the World’s Smallest Man’ and was famous for his appearances in fairs in England, America and Northern Ireland. He loved performing and meeting people on his travels. He saw his height as an opportunity rather than a disability: “If it wasn’t for my height, no one would bother to come and see me, and I would not have been around the world as I have.”

 

DAWB 6 Touring Car

Image: DAWB 6 Touring Car
DAWB 6 Touring Car

Feats

The DAWB 6 was built by local engineer Davy Woods and motorcycle racer Artie Bell. The name of the car is formed from their combined initials. The car is a one-off ‘special’, of exceptionally high quality. It took five years to plan and eight years to make, using the very best bespoke parts. It was built for no other reason than to prove it could be done, and workers at Davy Woods’s Belfast Tool & Gauge Company referred to it as ‘Davy’s Folly’.

Fortunes

Once built, the car was rarely used, as Davy Woods lost interest in it after achieving his goal. He was pleased simply to finish it and realise his ambition: “When you start something like this, you never know if it is going to work.”

 

George Brockerton’s Bitza Motorcyle

Image: George Brockerton’s Bitza Motorcyle
George Brockerton’s Bitza Motorcyle

Feats

George Brockerton (1898-1965), of Coleraine, County Antrim, was a superstar of his time. His many feats included being the only Irishman to hold a Brooklands Gold Star for speeds in excess of 100mph (161 km/h), and his part in organising the very first North West 200 in 1929. Brockerton and W.R. Chamberlain built this motorcycle using parts from many other makes of motorcycle, including Sunbeam, Triumph, Norton and Velocette. He named the motorcycle the Bitza because it was made from ‘bits a this and bits a that’.

Fortunes

George Brockerton went on to prove himself a hero during World War II, leading a convoy of Allied vehicles to safety at Dunkirk. After the war he took up competitive racing again, and was also famous for such daredevil feats as riding across Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, County Antrim, and riding the Wall of Death at Barry’s Amusements in Portrush, County Antrim. He is honoured by the George Brockerton Memorial Trophy, which is presented at the North West 200 every year.