It was Anthony Pratt in a factory in Birmingham – The inventor of Cluedo

That great murder, mystery game Cluedo (or Clue as it is known in the US)was invented by Anthony E. Pratt, from Balsall Heath in Birmingham. Anthony went to St Philip’s Grammar School in Edgbaston (J.R.R. Tolkien, Of Lord of the Rings fames was also a student there.

 

broad-street-cluedo
The great detective solves the crime!                              Broad St, by the way is THE place for excess, intemperance, dissipation and fun on a Saturday night.

 

Later, he became a musician, playing piano. During the second World War, working in a Birmingham munitions factory he developed the idea of Cluedo and sold it to Waddingtons in the 1950s. Once again – built in Brum.

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Bing! Bing! Where would we have been without the bicycle bell?

Another first for Brum – John Richard Dedicoat was originally Apprenticed to James Watt(of whom, more later). He went on to make the Pegasus brand of bicycles and crucially, invented the humble bicycle bell.

penny-farthing-foghorn
Before the bell. Road users were subjected to abuse and aggression. Thanks to Dedicoat, cycling became a civilised and polite pastime.

So, without Mr Dedicoat’s invention cycling may have ended in aggression, anger and antipathy towards the bicycle. Thank you James for creating the pleasant and endearing tring of the bell that encapsulates all that is beautiful about bicycling. Once again – built in Brum!

Built in Brum and good for your bum!

For all those cycling aficionados out there the name Brooks is synonymous with luxury saddles. The leatherware company was founded by John Boultbee Brooks in 1866 off New Street in Birmingham.

wooden-saddle
A wooden seat from an early bike. Note no padding or springs and solid wheels. A bumpy ride guaranteed!

Originally leatherware manufacturers for the equestrian trade, John Brooks developed his trademark leather, sprung saddle after borrowing his friend’s bicycle and having a sore time on its wooden saddle. Ouch!

brooks-sm
Much better. Nice one John.

Since then thousands upon thousands of posteriors have been pampered by Brooks saddles, now based in Smethwick and of course – built in Brum!

Birmingham – From car crazy to bonkers about bikes?

Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Ghent, Dublin, Prague and, erm… Birmingham? The first five Cities are noted as great places for cyclists. Birmingham is trying its best to be on that list. Not an easy job given that the car is King at present, but here are five ways that the city is becoming a much more cycling friendly City.

1. More canals than Venice? Yes, but what has that got to do with cycling?

Quite a lot actually. The City Council has worked with the Canal and River Trust to resurface over 50km of canal towpath in the City for the use of walkers and cyclists. These canals were the motorways of the 18th and 19th Centuries, transporting goods across the country. Birmingham has an extensive canal infrastructure that means there is usually a towpath to easily join somewhere in the City. Easily accessible, traffic free and flat – what a great way to get about.

2.We’re on a road to nowhere? Cycling routes in Brum.

New cycling routes are popping up all over the City. Cycle paths, shared routes and segregated cycle routes are being put in around many major roads. The face of Birmingham, particularly the City centre is changing rapidly with lots of new build going on. The Council are taking advantage of this and putting down new cycling paths where they can.

cycle-path
Sometimes looking more like a cycling crime scene, these markings are appearing around the city

3. Twenty is Plenty!

It is if you’re on a bike! Motorists may not be quite so happy, but twenty mile per hour speed limits are being introduced across the City. Slower traffic; less accidents, more incentive to cycle, less pollution. winners all round!

4. Wheels for All!

The council is developing a wheels for all centre in the city to encourage people with disabilities to try adapted cycles. The council has also given away over 3,000 bikes to people who might otherwise have struggled to get one. They also lend them out on a daily basis.

5. Get active and Ride Active!

Birmingham has partnered up with British Cycling to provide opportunities and activities for all across the city. From maintenance sessions to group rides, cycling skills sessions to fun and social activities there are lots of ways to access cycling in Birmingham.

For more information on cycling in Brum check out this site:

Birmingham’s cycling revolution website

 

So, good news all round then? Well. Not just yet. Some of the cycling routes aren’t really cycle friendly. There is still a lot of resistance from motorists, who just aren’t used to sharing the road with bikes. Some cycle lanes are too narrow and some of the off road routes are difficult to follow. However, at least there is a move in the right direction (bad pun intended). Who knows – in a few years we might just be on that cycling city list. Up the cycling revolution!