Tuesday, 29 March 2016

National Cycle Museum

Llandrindod Wells has the honour of playing host to the National Cycle Museum of Great Britain, located at the Automobile Palace on Temple Street. It was opened 21st March 1997 by Mr Tom Norton and the building was originally know as the "The Palace of Sport". 

The National Cycle Collection is a very rare museum showcasing the history of transport by bicycle over the last 200 years. This ranges from the famous Bone-shakers and Penny-Farthings right through to the potential bikes we could possibly see out on the roads, competing in races at the top level in the near future. Most Cycle Museums are usually part of a Transport Museum or are private and so not open to the public, therefore it is for this reason Llandrindod Wells is extremely lucky that it plays host to this special museum. It may only be sheer coincidence that it is here, but the town should embrace this fantastic tourist attraction as it helps bring many visitors in to visit our own very friendly Victorian Spa town. 

There are well over 200 cycles on display and as you take a stroll through the museum you move through time; allowing you to see with your own eyes and come to understand how and why cycling as a mode of transport has evolved through the years. Each cycle in the museum is labeled with a brief description of when the type of bike was first made and why it was created in such a way. This helps to create a real visitor friendly experience and you do not have to be a cyclist to become enthralled with all the history available at your hands. There are also very vivid and descriptive display boards all around the museum which only add to the experience.

On the whole the museum emphasises how the bike has changed through time and ultimately this is just a reflection of how society changed, as the bike changed to fit the times. The bike was originally a mode of transport more efficient and quicker than walking, and now the bike is constantly being engineered to be as light and as efficient as possible to provide professional cyclists the "edge" over their competitors in order to win major cycling events like the Tour De France.

One of the parts of the museum that really caught my eye was the Bicycle Shop Windows and the posters advertising all of the bikes that were on sale back in the day as this displays how bicycles were a huge part of fashion and a way to show other people and your peers your social class (a bit like owning a Lamborghini today!).

I remember when I first visited the museum when I was about eleven years old and I was amazed at the sheer number of bikes on display. Personally, I think it's possible to spend hours in the museum pouring over the history and when you leave you will feel as if you know all about the history of cycling and probably want to get out on your bike right that minute.


The National Cycle Museum is now a registered Independent Charitable Trust. Its objectives are to stimulate interest in the history of cycling and provide an educational service to young people. The museum is succeeding in these objectives as there are numerous groups and school visits to the museum throughout the year, allowing children and young people outside of the community of Llandrindod Wells to experience the history of cycling in a fun, exciting way. 

The museum is run by a team of volunteers and trustees and without these people it would not be possible for the National Cycle Collection to exist. Any member of the public can become a friend of The National Cycle Museum and the museum would gratefully appreciate any donations towards running costs of the building and the maintenance of the museum in order to allow it to continue to flourish. In the future the trustees of the museum would love to be able to employ full time staff in order to allow the museum to be open all of the time, but this is just not feesable at the moment. I for one would love to see this happen as I see the Museum as an excellent asset to the town and surrounding area.

You may have noticed when you are driving or walking by the Automobile Palace the highly decorative art on the fence panels. These are designed by Geraint Edwards from Celf o Gwmpas and I think they add a feeling of vibrancy to the outside of the museum and maybe even help to draw passers by into stopping to take a look around the enthralling collection. 

A number of bikes are transported around the UK from the National Cycle Museum each year. For example some of the bikes have been to Hampton Court Palace, appeared on The Cycle Show etc. When I visited the Cycle Museum recently, I was told Chris Boardman's bike usually resides at the museum but had recently been taken away to be shown at shows over the country.

Chris Boardman riding his famous bike at the 1992 Olympics

It costs £5 for adults, £4 for senior citizens and £2 for children to look around the museum and the opening days and times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am until 4pm, November to March. After March check the National Cycle Museum website for detailed opening times. The museum is also dog friendly and there is also a children's quiz available. There are also a huge number of gifts you can purchase from the museum in order to help you remember a special day out exploring the history of the bike.