Nicholas Oddy, left, on a 1885 Rudge light roadster 

Nicholas Oddy, left, on a 1885 Rudge light roadster


Research Themes
Material Culture

Research Staff
Nicholas Oddy

Affiliated Department
Forum for Critical Inquiry (FoCI)

Until 1933, both the state and private road users in the UK designed and erected road signs, all with clear political agendas. This project will explore early road signage and its place in asserting the interests of different road users in the period of early motorisation.

Modern road signs are the invention of cyclists’ clubs and began to proliferate in the 1880s. In the UK, the state began to take an interest in their design in The Motor Car Act of 1903, but did not take full control of their design and application until 1933. This project is exploring the material culture of early road signage, and the various motivations and interests it embodies. 

It is one aspect of an ongoing body of work focussing on cycling history and culture. This project has been presented in a number of contexts that span the worlds of academia, collecting and enthusiasts. Material was first presented at an AHRC-funded symposium on Road Safety at Oxford Brookes University in 2011. In 2012 it was developed into more substantial public presentations at York Railway Museum and the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling in 2013. In 2014, a paper to the XXIV International Cycling History Conference in Baltimore looked specifically at the cyclist’s signs. A substantial article is to be published as part of a special issue of Technology and Culture in mid-2015. A book concerning the history of cycling culture is currently in preparation and will draw on ongoing research since 1989. 

Project papers on RADAR:

Cycling - A Game for All Players - Nicholas Oddy

Rides on my Safety: The Diary of Emily Sophia Coddington (National Cycle Archive)

The flaneur on wheels - a light on cycling in the early 20th century? - Nicholas Oddy

The Cycle on Display - Nicholas Oddy

The Anchor Hotel, Ripley. An analysis of the cyclists' books 1881-95 - Nicholas Oddy

The Art of the Cycle - Nicholas Oddy

Bicycles in Literature of Travel and Exploration - An Encyclopedia - Nicholas Oddy

Cycling's Dark Age, in Cycle History 15 - Conference proceedings - Nicholas Oddy

Nicholas Oddy on RADAR

History, Tweed and the Invisible Bicycle

History, Tweed and the Invisible Bicycle Oddy, Nicholas ...

13/03/18 14:37

Size, Then Gauge, Then Scale.Why did the principal manufacturers of model trains adopt 00 (1:76) in the UK and H0 (1:87) elsewhere, instead of something more logical?

Size, Then Gauge, Then Scale.Why did the principal manufa...

05/03/18 17:32