Manchester’s Bicycling History

According to “Manchester on the Merrimack,” the preeminent book on the history of Manchester, bicycling had become quite popular in the Queen City by the early 1880s, when the Manchester Bicycle Club, affiliated with the League of American Wheelmen, was formed:

manchester, nh bicycle club 1880s
Manchester Historic Association/photo

The book quotes the now defunct Manchester Mirror newspaper with bicycle-related news such as: “The bicycle boys will enjoy a club run tomorrow to Lake Massabesic” and “Mr. Frank O. Moulton’s new tandem safety bike attracts the utmost attention whenever he has it out on the road. It is a novel machine and the first one ever of its kind in New Hampshire.”

The book further notes that by “1889 there were 15,000 bicyclists enrolled in the League of American Wheelmen, to which Manchester contributed its quota.”

Below are additional photos of Manchester bicycles and bicyclists of yesteryear. Most photos are from the collection of the Manchester Historic Association.

margaret turnbull with bicycle before 1899 manchester nh
Portrait of Margaret Turnbull with a bicycle, taken prior to 1899. Miss Turnbull lived in Manchester and married James C. Newton on November 22, 1899. They lived at 424 Amherst St.

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Studio portrait of Paul Sargent and his Bicycle with a painted backdrop.
Studio portrait of Paul Sargent and his Bicycle with a painted backdrop.

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View of St. George’s ”French” Catholic Church, Pine Street corner Orange Street looking south west. A horse drawn wagon a boy on a bicycle, and a policeman are seen on the right.
View of St. George’s ”French” Catholic Church, Pine Street corner Orange Street looking south west. A horse drawn wagon a boy on a bicycle, and a policeman are seen on the right.

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Portrait of an unidentified woman standing with a bicycle.
Portrait of an unidentified woman standing with a bicycle.

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leonard kidder manchester nh amoskeag manufacturing corporation
Portrait of Leonard Kidder riding a bicycle. Mr. Kidder was the son of Samuel B. & Mary A. Kidder. Samuel Kidder was the superindentent of locks & canals and a surveyor of lumber.
young man on a bicycle circa 1900 manchester nh
Portrait of a young man on bicycle, Ca. 1900

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Group portrait Swedish families...to the left of three boys the first boy holds up a bicycle.
Group portrait Swedish families…to the left of three boys the first boy holds up a bicycle.

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Line up of penny-farthing bicycles
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Reverse penny-farthing bicycle
Noon hour, May 26, 1909. These boys and many smaller ones work in Amoskeag Mfg. Co. - Lewis W. Hine
Noon hour, May 26, 1909. A bicycle can be seen in the midst of these boys employed by the Amoskeag Mfg. Co. – Lewis W. Hine/photo
beacon building 1910 bicycles manchester nh
View of the Beacon Building, 812 Elm Street, circa 1910. In front of the building two horse drawn carriages, five bicycles, and two men talking are seen.
 View of an Atlantic Shore Line trolley car # 16. A conductor is seen standing in the car with two boys and a bicycle standing in front of the car, in the background is the First National Bank
View of an Atlantic Shore Line trolley car # 16. A conductor is seen standing in the car with two boys and a bicycle standing in front of the car, in the background is the First National Bank
Bicyclists can be sees pedaling across Victory Park.
Bicyclists can be sees pedaling across Victory Park.
1975-197
View of the Downtown Merchants Parade November 29, 1975 looking north on Elm Street. Herbert’s Music Store is seen on the left side of the image (west side), followed by Stark Street, and in the background Hampshire Plaza. A crowd of people gather on both sides of the street watching the parade as four men on high wheel bicycles ride by, John Dubuclet is on the left rear and Frank Skrzyzowski right rear.
bridge street numerica building 1986
A bicyclist rides east bound on Bridge Street in the lower left hand corner, c. 1986. Schwinn Bicycles is seen on the right.