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Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour ‘genius’ inventor

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More than 30 riders of the distinctive Dursley Pedersen bicycle, first designed in the late 19th century, descended on the bike’s home town to take part in the Pedersen Gathering.

Organised by the Veteran-Cycle Club (V-CC), events centred around Kingshill House where riders of vintage and modern Pedersen bikes met on Saturday morning before riding to the Market Place where they were greeted by Mayor Alex Stennett and Deputy Mayor Matt Nicholson, along with curious onlookers.

A ‘Pedersen Pilgrimage’ to Dursley was held in September 1993 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of engineer Mikael Pedersen’s first patent application for his unique multi-tubed design and attracted cyclists from across Europe, many from his native Denmark.

peresen 1993 | Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour 'genius' inventor
Pedersen Pilgrimage 1993. Pic: Matt Bigwood.

A modern version of the ‘pilgrimage’ was organised by Ben Amor and his father Chris in 2019 which saw 10 of the vintage bikes back in Dursley. Ben organised another gathering in 2022 after a Covid-enforced break, and the V-CC felt it was important to make it a regular event.

Dursley Pedersen 18 | Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour 'genius' inventor
Cyclists visited the former Pedersen factory in Dursley.

“Mikael Pedersen was a Danish inventor who came to the attention of the famous Lister family and was brought across, I suppose you could say, as a consultant and came to Dursley in about 1885, and with him he came with the idea of a Pedersen bicycle. This revolutionized the standard diamond frame style of bicycle. His idea was to have a bicycle built around a hammock seat,” explained Mr Amor.

Dursley Pedersen 17 | Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour 'genius' inventor
Dursley Mayor Alex Stennett (left) and Deputy Mayor Matt Nicholson welcomed riders to the town.

“The idea was that the bicycle would adjust to your physique and your riding style and, in theory, give a much more comfortable ride. The Pedersen bicycle subsequently became popular, mainly amongst the wealthier eccentrics of the time, prior to the First World War.”

Dursley Pedersen 20 | Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour 'genius' inventor

The original design was expensive to produce and never gained widespread popularity. Production at the factory in Water Street, Dursley, ceased in 1921 and Pedersen returned to Denmark and died in poverty in 1929, aged 73. However, in the early 1990s his remains were exhumed from a pauper’s grave and, contained in a Port wine box, were reinterred in Dursley Cemetery in September 1995 with members of his family in attendance, along with a representative from the Danish Embassy and the president of the Veteran-Cycle Club, Leslie Bowerman.

6783381107 62ce969581 h | Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour 'genius' inventor
Mikael Pedersen’s reburial in 1995. Pic: Matt Bigwood.

Cyclists, led by Andy Barton, made a visit to the grave on Saturday afternoon before returning to Kingshill House where the bikes were put on display and in the evening talks on ‘Old Dursley’ and ‘High adventures on a Pedersen’ were given.

Across Europe there are still a handful of manufacturers who can create modern versions of the iconic design, still sought after by enthusiasts.

Dursley Pedersen 34 | Pictures and video: cyclists unite to honour 'genius' inventor
Thomas Leissle travelled from Germany to attend the event.

Penny Cossburn of the V-CC said: “The organisers would like to thank everyone who has supported this year’s event including Andy Barton of the Dursley Heritage Centre, Joe Dymond of the Kingshill Creative Centre and Leah Wellings of Dursley Town Council. Without their help this event would not take place.”

Discussions are taking place about the possibility of creating a stone memorial to the inventor, close to his former home and the site of the Lister factory in Long Street, though these are in very early stages.

Pictures and video by Matt Bigwood

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