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Council Reveals Plans to Breathe Old Life Into New Venture

Published: 1st April 2017 07:00

Proponents of the shelved Neston Cycle Town initiative, disappointed at its apparent demise despite perceived successes, have expressed delight at ambitious plans to further promote two-wheeled transport in the town - through the launch of  ‘Neston Penny Farthing Town'.

The news comes as no surprise to those familiar with the council's policy of embracing a bygone era, as evidenced by their recent Victorian Festival. Now they have found a way to combine ‘harking back' with ‘riding forward', albeit on a somewhat unwieldy conveyance.

Neston Penny Farthing TownA 'high wheeler' enthusiast popped into town this week to try the brand new mounting block generously provided by Neston Community Youth Centre.

Promotional events are planned for the Neston calendar, including Penny Farthing races, ‘Farthocross' (off-roading) and ‘Penny Freestyle' demonstrations. Precedents exist, with locations as far apart as Eastbourne in the UK and Evandale in Tasmania staging regular, successful events involving the 'high wheelers', drawing many enthusiasts who travel great distances (albeit slowly) to attend and participate.

A spokesman for the council said: "We love all the old fashioned stuff and we're constantly looking at ways of bringing things back to life. This is a marvelous idea and will no doubt capture the hearts and minds of local residents and visitors alike."

Local cycling advocate and the person behind Neston Cycle Town, Andy Mills, said: "After of years of trying to get the council to recognise the value of cycling to the town, it's great that they've found a way to draw all their marketing activity together under the Victorian theme.

"Penny Farthing racing is a cracking idea. It was very common in Cheshire in the 1890s and it's a little known fact that James Starley, the inventor of the modern bicycle, holidayed in Parkgate and brought his ‘weird and godless machine' with him, much to the annoyance of local Neston-cum-Parkgate councillors who thought the 'infernal machine is the work of the devil'.

"Much has changed since then and thanks to the work of Neston Cycle Town volunteers, bikes and cyclists are now welcome in many of the cafés, amenities and attractions in and around the town."

Neston Community Youth Centre is one of the first local organisations on board, with Manager Gareth Prytherch having already built a special mounting block and secure parking facility for Penny Farthing enthusiasts. He said: "There's a lot of skill involved in getting going on one of these things. The rider has to grab the handlebar and place a foot on a peg above the back wheel, simultaneously. He or she must then scoot the Penny Farthing forward to gain momentum and quickly jump onto the seat while steering and maintaining their balance.

"We thought we'd make it a bit easier on them by creating this special mounting block. Anything to help people on their journey back in time."

Local historian Prof Lily Sado has praised the council's initiative: "Oh this is simply wonderful - it's going to be such a spectacle to see these marvelous machines in Neston and to witness the thrills and spills of the races.

"Long live Neston Penny Farthing Town!"

Update, 3.4.17:  Yes, of course, this was our April Fool's Day article.  Thank you to everyone who played along, in particular to the members of the Town Council who joined in below.  If you've missed any of our previous 1st April features, you can view them all here.

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Tim Wright
At 10:12 on 1st April 2017, Tim Wright commented:
I'm all for it. What's more, I think a Best Chimney Sweep competition should come next, with a special prize for those aged under 9yrs.
At 11:52 on 1st April 2017, Tony commented:
Great idea who doesn't love dragging themselves back to the dark old days?
Mike Shipman
At 17:38 on 1st April 2017, Mike Shipman commented:
I understand there is a lot of controversy as to where the races should begin, the Market Square or the Malt Shovel pub car park.
Mike Shipman
At 17:45 on 1st April 2017, Mike Shipman commented:
I can confirm that the Council's Penny Farthing Committee is looking to establish the event on this day next year. All the Town Councillors are donating their attendance allowances to pay for the prizes.
Susan C
At 18:55 on 1st April 2017, Susan C commented:
Now just a minute Mr Mayor, I was not consulted about my attendance allowance, I will need to think about that. Some of us have, AMAzingly been cycling in Neston since 1971, even with a sleeping baby on the back of the bike, without any expensive Cycling Town Initiative, though I await with barely suppressed excitement the debate about who will pay for the new tall cycle racks. Signed A Town Councillor.

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