Winged Wheels of Wight

CTC Winged Wheel
This is a particularly fine example of the CTC ‘Winged Wheels’ that can still be found on buildings around the country. They are a rare legacy from the days when the bicycle was the fastest form of road transport and cyclists an affluent and influential group whose custom was much sought after. The first network of CTC approved hotels was set up in 1879, only 6 months after the founding of the CTC. The 24″ diameter cast iron wheels were first placed on buildings in 1888. They were expensive to manufacture, distribute and affix and their survival is largely due to the fact that they were heavy and securely bolted to the masonry. In 1889 two classes were introduced – ‘Headquarters’ which charged a higher tariff, and the less pricey ‘Quarters’. This proved difficult to maintain and was phased out with plain wheels with no tag being issued from 1895. Three Winged Wheel signs are listed on the Isle of Wight.

I am very familiar with this sign located in Carisbrooke High Street. It must have been quite an adventure coming to the island on one of the early safety bicycles and its great to have such a tangible link to cyclists past.

The current owners are obviously proud of their sign and have recently repainted it in CTC colours. The large building must originally have been a hotel but is now four private houses.

The next sign is only a mile or so away in Newport and is affixed to the side of the Wheatsheaf Hotel. I don’t often pass it and hadn’t studied in detail before, assuming that it was exactly the same as the one in Carisbrooke. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has a ‘Quarters’ tag and is therefore older than the one in Carisbrooke, dating from between 1888 and 1895.

In 1993 a third sign was reported in Shanklin but I could find no trace of this. The hotel no longer exists and there are few buidings of suitable age along the road in question, it is mostly modern bungalows. It seems that the building has been demolished and there is no longer any relic of those early cycling pioneers.

Between the wars 20″ square embossed CTC plate signs were issued. The one on the Black Bull in Haworth was featured on ‘Britain by Bike’ this week. Now all we have is window stickers. This one is five minutes walk from the one on the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Newport but it is just not in the same class!

An excellent detailed study of CTC signs in North Wales can be found here.