Nostalgia: Dan set wheels of industry in motion

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 May 2010

Dan Albone’s interest in cycling didn’t stop at manufacturing – he won a number of races in England and Holland

Dan Albone’s interest in cycling didn’t stop at manufacturing – he won a number of races in England and Holland

Dan Albone THE most famous son of Biggleswade, Dan Albone, died 100 years ago on Monday at the early age of 46. The town was stunned and shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected death on October 30, 1906. An inquest was held the very next day at Th

Dan Albone on his bike

Dan Albone

THE most famous son of Biggleswade, Dan Albone, died 100 years ago on Monday at the early age of 46.

The town was stunned and shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected death on October 30, 1906.

An inquest was held the very next day at The Ivel Hotel.

The coroner paid tribute to him and the jury recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

His death was reported in no less than 47 newspapers and periodicals.

His funeral service at the parish church on November 2 was attended by a large number of mourners from all walks of life.

Dan Albone was born at the Ongley Arms, Biggleswade, on September 12, 1860, the son of a market gardener who died when Dan was only four years old.

After his father's death, his mother took over the licence to the business.

Dan was later apprenticed to Thomas Course, a millwright and engineer in Biggleswade.

He was only 20 when he set up his own cycle works at The Ongley Arms, making penny-farthings.

In 1884, when his mother died, he took over the licence to the Ongley Arms.

Two years later, in 1886, he became a champion cyclist as well as a designer and manufacturer.

He moved next door to the newly-built Ivel Hotel and had his cycle works behind.

By 1887 he employed 100 men making Ivel cross-framed safety cycles.

These could be ridden hands off and already had a worldwide reputation.

At the same time the Ivel Hotel became a magnet for cyclists and cycling clubs.

Dan himself won many races both in England and Holland.

He also pioneered the introduction of tandems, three-seaters, tricycles, the parcel carrier, child carrier, ladies' cycle and many other innovations.

Manufacture extended to motorcycles and motor cars, but he is best known for the Ivel Agricultural Motor, which was first introduced in 1902 after five years of experimenting.

The widely-acclaimed improved model followed in 1903.

Ivel Agricultural Motors Ltd was set up in 1902 and continued until 1920 when the first tractor manufactured was donated to the Science Museum, where it remains.

No less than 26 gold and silver medals were awarded to the company, including a silver medal at the 1904 Royal Show.

Dan's untimely death put an end to further inventions.

Cycle production carried on for a few years and Ivel tractors were made in Biggleswade and under licence in the United States until about 1914.

The Ivel was exported to 40 countries worldwide.

In 2003 the restored number 131, owned by John Moffitt, was driven from Biggleswade to the Royal Show at Stoneleigh - a distance of 100 miles.

In addition to the two preserved tractors in the UK there are two in Australia, two in New Zealand, and one each in Ireland, Sweden and Zimbabwe.

Biggleswade History Society is planning a commemorative service (to include images and written material) at 3pm this Sunday, October 29, in St Andrew's Church (where Dan worshipped).


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