Record breaking time-trial tandem set to be restored to former glory

An antique tandem used to set a speed record dating from 1935 will be rebuilt after it was discovered in a Hexham garage

It has seen better days, but a record-breaking tandem from the 1930s is set to be restored to its former glory.

The bicycle still holds the time trial record for a tandem ride from Berwick to Newcastle - and back.

On May 5, 1935, Hugo Lloyd Caris, of Hexham, and his fellow rider - known only as R Johnson - took 5hrs 52mins to make the journey.

In the years that followed, the tandem was used by Hugo - known to family and friends as Lloyd - and his family before it was packed away into a garage and forgotten about.

It was rediscovered when, following Lloyd’s death at the age of 87 in 1993, his son was clearing out his father’s home.

Alan Caris, 65, said: “I always remember the bike being there when we were children.

“My father was a well known bike racer and he set a number of records through the late 1920s and early 30s.”

Just a few years earlier, on August 23, 1931, Lloyd had completed the same trip, this time on a single bike, in 6hrs 26mins.

In the years that followed, the bike was put into retirement.

Mr Caris, who now runs a clock and watch repair shop in Hexham, said: “I remember dad adding an extra seat to the tandem so my brothers and I could ride on it too.

“Then, after he died, I found it when clearing out the garage of his Hexham house.

“It was in pretty bad condition, the tyres had perished and it was covered in rust.”

Mr Caris told wife Jacqui, 64, all about his memories of the record-breaking bike.

He said: “I knew dad had taken part in the time trial record but there wasn’t much information about what else the tandem had been used for - or if that record was ever broken.

“I knew he must have raced it on a few occasions so I passed it on in the hope it would be repaired and restored.”

The tandem fell into the hands of John Swan, owner of Hexham’s Bykology shop, on Priestpopple.

Now, Mr Swan is working to restore the bike which has become quite the talking point in the local community.

He said: “I’ve had in the back for a few years, it’s in a pretty bad way.

“The wheels need completely rebuilding, the leather seats need replacing and a lot of cleaning work has to be done.”

“I’ve just bought a bracket and I plan to hang it in the shop and repair it piece by piece so people can see the progress being made.

“It will be great to see it restored to its former glory.”


David Whetstone
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