Cycling Calamities: Stories from the Archives

St Sepulchre GateCycling as a hobby or as a means of getting around and about has unfortunately never been without risk!

In Edwardian times, two Doncaster lady cyclists had the misfortune to suffer an accident when they were travelling around the district. On Friday 14th January, a Miss Gertrude Close, who was a schoolteacher at Finningley, was cycling home from work when she was attacked by a dog owned by Rowland Crawshaw, a farmer at Blaxton. The dog repeatedly ran at her and she tried to kick it away, but it continued its assault and eventually she fell off the bicycle. While she was on the ground, the dog continued to attack her. However, when the case came to court, Farmer Crawshaw argued that the dog was very useful in rounding up cattle and he also kept it to defend his farm against burglars. He was ordered by the court to keep it under control and we can only hope that Miss Gertrude Close recovered from her injuries and returned to cycling to and from work.

A more serious injury occurred to a lady named Miss Mary Whiting on Wednesday 21st August 1912. Visiting Doncaster from Cheshire with her sister, Miss Whiting was riding her bicycle along St Sepulchre Gate towards the station when she was hit by a horse running out of control. The horse belonged to a Mr Albert Ridgill, a grocer from Carcroft, and was left attached to a small cart outside a shop on St Sepulchre Gate. It became restless and bolted, careering into Miss Whiting and her sister. She suffered severe head injuries and a lacerated calf, and was taken to the Infirmary in an unconscious state. However, she did eventually recover from her injuries. Mr Ridgill was fined 10 shillings plus costs for allowing his horse to be out of control.

These two snippets of history, while certainly distressing for the victims, nevertheless give us an interesting insight into the importance of the bicycle to women. The bicycle allowed the first lady, Miss Gertrude Close, the means of travelling independently to her place of work. The second lady, Miss Mary Whiting, was on her way to the station with her sister to meet another sister from the train, and they had planned to travel on holiday to Llandudno. Bicycles allowed these ladies to experience a particular way to travel the country when previously a male chaperone may have been thought necessary. But whether Mary ever did make it to Llandudno following her terrible accident, sadly history does not relate!

Research and image courtesy of Heritage Doncaster.

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