Granville, fetch your cloth! Bicycles for business

Once cycling for pleasure was firmly established, it was not long before bicycles were used and adapted for business purposes as well. Delivery tricycles belonging to local firms were a common sight in Doncaster in the early part of the twentieth century.

A large Co-op store was built in the town centre in the 1930s and boys were employed to drive delivery tricycles, bringing the daily or weekly shopping to those who struggled to get out. Local people came to reply on the convenience and value for money that the Co-op represented, but the advertising that was prominently displayed on the delivery vehicle was extremely convenient for the store. The delivery bike was immortalised by the hapless Granville in the BBC comedy ‘Open All Hours’, which was – and still is! – filmed in Balby in Doncaster.

Co-op bike
Vehicles like this Co-op delivery tricycle were once a common site in Doncaster.

As bicycles became more affordable, they became an attractive way for people to travel to and from their place of work. At one time men had to live within walking distance of where they worked, but the greater distances that a bicycle could cover allowed them greater freedom of choice in their place of residence.

Copyright Heritage Doncaster DMBC
A crowd of workers emerging from the mines on their bicycles at the end of their shift was once a striking and familiar sight in Doncaster

A crowd of men emerging from the Plant works or the mines on their bicycles at the end of their shift was once a striking and familiar sight in Doncaster. The emergence of the motor car, however, contributed to the decline of cycling as a means of getting to work. However, there are several initiatives running in Doncaster today to encourage more of us to cycle to work rather than travel by car, as the benefits to employees and employers include better health, improved productivity and reduced absenteeism.

Do you remember the Co-op delivery tricycles delivering up and down Doncaster’s streets? Did you cycle to work – or do you still? Do you have any memorable experiences of your journeys to share? Please let us know.

Research and images courtesy of Heritage Doncaster.

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