Sparkbrook Grand Lady’s Light Roadster c.1905
Founded in 1883, the Sparkbrook Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of Coventry made very fine quality bicycles, with close attention to detail and finish. This is the Lady’s version of the top of the range model. One of the unusual features is the cable operated rear brake, very finely made, and fully adjustable in front of the bottom bracket. The cable loops around the pulley under the bottom bracket and back up to the neat adjuster (see photo’s.) The freewheel is a Lea and Francis patent type, and the chain-case a celluloid covered open-back model, to keep weight down. Chain size is 5/8 inch pitch, a rare size also used in the early 1900’s by Humber, Rudge and Lea Francis. Further signs of quality are that there are oilers fitted to everything – steering head, pedals, two oilers to bottom bracket. The spokes are fine and all are tied and soldered. Wheel size is an unusual 28 x 1 3/8 inches, making tyres extremely difficult to find today, in fact almost impossible. Cranks are beautiful oval section items. Much of the green enamel remains, along with signs of lining and transfers. The wheels originally had their centres enameled and lined, with nickel edges. Green was Sparkbrook’s choice of enamel for their top of range machines at this time, whilst later prime machines were finished in a handsome dark chocolate brown. It is interesting to note from the 1906 catalogue that Sparkbrook bicycles at this time were sold through the London agency of Lea and Francis in Piccadilly. The 1906 catalogue further states ‘The Company does not advertise. The aim of the firm has been to make “Sparkbrook’s” advertise themselves’. Over 100 years on, this bicycle rides beautifully and is still a fine advert for the Company.