Sign from a Bygone Era
Today I had an interview in Sturminster Newton in North Dorset, and as I was more than a little early, I took some time to wander around the village.
Whilst walking along the street, I noticed a familiar emblem proudly displayed on the side of the White Hart Inn. This image shows an original Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) winged wheel, that is probably over a century old.
The CTC winged wheels date from an era when believe it or not, the bicycle was the fastest form of transport on the road.
The winged wheels were essentially a hotel and inn grading system that preceeded the AA and its ‘star’ ratings that we are all familiar with today.
Being a keen cyclist, and member of the CTC for the last 15 years or so, I immediately recognised the CTC badge, but did not know why it should be so proudly displayed on the wall of an old inn, until I did some research and discovered the Winged Wheels website, from which most of this information was obtained.
The ancestor of most modern bicycles was the ‘Safety Bicycle‘, which was designed in 1876 and was so-called because unlike Penny Farthings or Ordinaries as they were known, the riders feet were within easy reach of the ground,making it easier to ride.
The ‘safety bicycle’ caused an increase in the popularity of cycling among the richer and more leisured professional classes, and made it more accessible to people who had previously been unwilling or unable to ride the earlier High Ordinaries (Penny Farthings).
This class had higher expectations, and demanded a system of hotel and inn grading, which was the CTC Winged Wheels.
By 1881, there were apparently some 785 establishments that were under contract with the CTC, and these offered fixed tariffs, reserved rooms and exclusive lounges for cyclists to use.
The 2 ft diameter Winged Wheels such as this one started to appear on buildings in 1888 to indicate that these establishments were ‘CTC appointments’.
The “HeadQuarters” sign, such as the one on the White Hart, was most coveted by establishments and indicated that the establishment merited Tariff A, the second type of sign, which was awarded to establishments meriting only a Tariff B was the “Quarters” sign.
Much more information on the historic CTC Winged Wheel signs can be found at http://www.wingedwheels.info/
Across the street from the White Hart Inn in Sturminster Newton is an old bakery, which also still displays and old sign, this time a sign announcing “Teas With Hovis, The Rule of the Road.” These signs date from about 1930 and were apparently once widespread across the countryside. More information can be found in a pdf document on the Hovis Bakery website.