I’m the guardian of this 1938 Rudge-Whitworth 3-speed (serial number A592537). It ended up in my possession when a friend decided he had no more room for bikes in his garage. He got the Rudge from a friend of his who said he’d want it back someday. So, I’m the keeper of the bike, until that day comes (I’m hoping it doesn’t come anytime soon).
From a distance, this might look like any old British 3-speed, but in my experience it’s rare to find one in such splendid original condition. And, this bike has interesting details such as the peaked fenders, drop handlebars, box pinstriping, rear rack (held on with wingnuts for rapid removal), quick-release front wheel and early Sturmey-Archer hub with toptube-mounted trigger.
Hand Built (?)
Perhaps my favorite detail is what I always thought was Rudge’s “hand built” logo. Look at the crank and decal (below) and you’ll see the hand icon, what I took to be a symbol of Rudge’s pride in craftsmanship. It also appears on the nameplate. Bob in North Wales, however, was kind enough to write and explain that
the origin of the hand was the Red Hand of Ulster. This symbol was often adopted by families with a Northern Irish origin. For example, the area where I live used to be largely owned by the Myddletons of Chirk Castle that have this symbol as part of their arms. I know of four pubs in the area called The Hand Hotel that have this symbol on the pub sign (in the villages of Chirk, Llangollen, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog and Llanrhaedr ym Mochnant.)
Another decal I really like is the original shop decal that was put on by the shop that first sold the bike. It reads Barr’s Cycle Agents & Repairs, Glasgow, Scotland.
Phil Haywood of the Rudge Enthusiasts Club was kind enough to let me know that
your frame number is shown in the Rudge Register as 1938. Must have been one of the last with a Coventry badge, but I suspect it was assembled and shipped from the EMI factory in Hayes in Middlesex.
Click on any of the following pictures to view full size