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Science & Invention

Kirkpatrick Macmillan

Replica of Kirkpatrick Macmillan's bicycle

19th Century

This bicycle or velocipede was made by Thomas McCall, to the design invented by Kirkpatrick Macmillan.  It is driven by cranks to the rear wheel.  In the 1890s this bicycle was exhibited at Crystal Palace, London and then given to Dumfries Museum.


Thomas McCall, a joiner and wheelwright of Kilmarnock, built and sold copies of Macmillan's bicycle for £7.00 each.  McCall was born in Penpont, north of Dumfries, in 1834 and served his apprenticeship in Sanquhar.  Wheelwrights built wooden wheels for horsedrawn carts and carriages and clad them with iron hoops, so they combined the skills of wood and metal working required to build early bicycles.


Macmillan's bicycle weighed 26kgs (57lbs) and must have been hard to get started to pedal.  It would have been uncomfortable and possibly dangerous to ride.  The position of the pedals restricted the turning of the front wheel making steering difficult, and the machine had no brakes.

Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
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Dumfries & Galloway Council

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