header image
Parts
Homepage. This page: More information is sought regarding this unusual Edwardian-era tandem tricycle.

The Century Tandem powered tricycle.

It was only after seeking advice from a third party about this unusual powered tricycle, that I could cease scratching my head in bemusement. Motorised tricycles, like the 6.5hp Century shown below, were just one of several forms of powered transport that various companies were experimenting with, during the Edwardian era. While interest in motorcycles (some with sidecars), and cars (light and not-so-light), grew as the 20th Century established itself, curiosities such as this began to fade from the public consciousness. Passengers in veteran-era tricycles such as this were perhaps not too upset by this shift in interest.
In-line, or tandem, seating was studied by a number of companies. AC, with its Sociable models, was just one manufacturer who chose to seat the soon-to-be-terrified passenger at the forward end of the vehicle. Exposed to gravel rash, rain, errant pedestrians, and unfriendly horses' hooves, riding in the forward position was not for the easily alarmed. The Century Tandem appears to offer even less occupant protection than the Sociable. The passenger, already the first on the scene of any imminent accident, relied on a cylindrical fuel tank as a back rest, while the driver - busying himself with the intricacies of the controls - may well have struggled with forward vision when carrying a passenger, especially if the latter was dressed in voluminous clothing, or was themself of substantial frame. All in all, a less-than-perfect solution to the problem of low-cost, internal combustion powered, private transport.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
The Century Tandem tricycle
This superb photograph was emailed over by William, as part of his research into the vehicle shown, on behalf of a friend. It's believed to have been taken in Newcastle, alas no registration number is visible. The tricycle has been identified as a 6.5hp Century Tandem, dating to 1902 or thereabouts, and the original advert shown below bears this out.
Advert from 1902
The company was keen to promote their machine's excellent hill-climbing abilities, having performed timed runs on several notoriously steep roads across the country, in a chain-driven 5hp model. The advertised machine came equipped with a 6.5hp Aster engine, so presumably would sprint up towards the Cat and Fiddle pub, for example, with even greater pace, no doubt adding to any passenger's unease.
I'm told that a couple of these intriguing machines survive to this day, I wonder how they compare to other tricycles of the day?
Return to Page 18 in the classic & vintage photo gallery.

Custom Search
www.oldclassiccar.co.uk (C) R. Jones. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers