Motoring to work... on a pedal cycle

A close-up from the original picture highlighting the motorised pedal cycle with number plate.

A close-up from the original picture highlighting the motorised pedal cycle with number plate.

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A few weeks ago I published a photograph of an accident in the early 1950s at the junction of Alverstone Road and Milton Road, Portsmouth, when a car crashed into a bus.

I’ve since had several letters and e-mails about a bicycle in the bottom right hand corner bearing a number plate.

David Janes, of Alverstoke, Gosport, tells me that in the late 1940s/early 1950s it was possible to motorise an ordinary pedal bicycle. The usual place to fit the power adaptor was behind the saddle where the saddlebag would have been fitted.

Another adaptor was fitted to the rear wheel hub and Frank Jarvis tells me his was called a Cyclemaster. As the cycles then became mechanical they had to be licensed and insured which meant they needed a number plate.

Former Portsmouth Evening News employee Len Mates tells me using one of the motorised cycles brought back memories of a bad rail accident.

In 1951 he lived in Arundel and used to ride his bike to Ford station to catch the train to work.

In August of that year there was a serious train crash at the station when a Portsmouth-bound train ran into the rear of a stationary Bognor Regis train on the loop line. The rear carriages had not cleared the main line.

The driver of the Portsmouth-bound train had passed a signal at danger and ran into the back of the Bognor Regis train. Eight passengers and the driver died.

Len was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross and attended the accident taking two of the injured to St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester.

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