A coffee shop with a museum attached: Coffeeneuring 5

Esquires Coffee House Coventry is a fine city centre coffee shop; even better, though, it’s got Coventry’s Transport Museum attached. The museum is free (though not the coffee), and for cyclists, it’s a real temple. It’s got James Starley’s Ariel bicycle, an innovative penny-farthing, and it’s got Rover bicycles by his nephew, John Kemp Starley. These were the first bicycles that put together the elements of our modern bikes: wheels of similar 2016-11-05ariel-bike_websize, chain drive for the rear wheel, and steering for the front wheel. Coventry became a centre for bicycle manufacture in the period before the First World War.

In the Museum, the Women’s Rover Safety Bicycle (1898, at left) is labelled as having “all the extras a woman in Rational Dress” needed to cycle. Actually, it looks remarkably similar to the step-over frame bicycle that we have, a Coventry Eagle that was built between the two world wars, when the Coventry Eagle 2016-11-05rover-womens-bikCompany was still located in Coventry. It lacks the skirt guard that the earlier bike has, and ours has a two-speed Sturmey-Archer hub gear, but it’s a fine machine, and with the Rover, both are eminently rideable.

2016-06-23coventry-eagle_weAfter the peak of cycling (not counting us now!), many bicycle manufacturers switched over to making cars. Starley’s Rover Company was among these; the Rover Company lasted until quite recently, though in nothing like the same corporate organisation or ownership. If you’re interested in cars—and I can’t think why a cyclist would be—there are fine examples in the Museum.

2016-11-05coffee_webOn a cool November day, we had cappuccino and latte in Esquires before dropping in to the museum for a brief look-around. It’s a good coffee shop with cakes and mid-day food; however, we stuck with the coffee.

Saturday, 5 November, from home to coffee and then home again, 5.27 miles; cycling, good; the cappuccino and latte, good; Esquires’ Coffee House, good; Coventry Transport Museum, great!

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