Frosta??s Penny Farthing

Frost's penny farthing

The large wheel enabled greater speeds as one rotation of the pedals produced one rotation of the wheel.

Frederick David Frost, known as Dickie, was a Winchester watchmaker and silversmith, and amateur sportsman, who became one of the most successful cyclists of his time. This penny farthing or ordinary bike belonged to Frost and on it he won the 100 Miles Hants, Wilts, Dorset and Channel Islands Race in 1891.

Penny farthings were all the rage from the 1870 to the 1890s and were originally just known as bicycles. The nickname penny farthing came later from the resemblance of the side view of the large wheel and small wheel to a British penny coin leading a farthing coin. Penny farthings were also known as ordinary bicycles to distinguish them from the later safety bicycles, which were eventually to replace them in popularity.

As an observer would expect, mounting and dismounting a penny farthing required practice, but the bikes were actually quite comfortable on the rougher road surfaces of the late nineteenth century due to the large diameter front wheel. The ordinary was a direct drive bicycle, with the cranks and pedals fixed directly to the hub, and no gears. The large wheel enabled greater speeds as one rotation of the pedals produced one rotation of the wheel.

Quick Facts

  • Made of metal with leather and wood
  • Dimensions Height 1.45m, Length 1.64m, Wheel diameter 1.32m, Handlebar width 68cm
  • Accession number WINCM:LH 1316
  • Date made about 1891
  • Ridden by F.D. Frost


  • Dickie Frost was born in Winchester in 1866, the only son of David Frost, a watchmaker and silversmith, who started a jewellery business at No. 15, The Square in 1864.
  • Frost truly excelled as a cyclist and entered competitive cycling events at an early age. For a considerable number of years he held several amateur cycling records.
  • Upon the death of his father, F. D. Frost took over the family business in The Square.
  • After retiring from serious activity in the athletic world himself, Frost devoted his time to fostering sport in Winchester and in the county, especially for the benefit of young people.He lived throughout his life at No. 15, The Square and he died there at the age of 73 in 1939.
  • Frost developed an interest in sport at a young age and showed considerable athletic ability as an all-round athlete. He won medals for running and swimming and was a prominent member of the Winchester Harriers Club.
  • Winchester City Council holds some of Frost's trophies and medals, including the Carwardine Cup, won by F.D. Frost for the third time in 1900, on which occasion he was allowed to keep the trophy.

Did you know?

At the height of his racing career in 1898, Frost went on to win, within the space of a fortnight, the country's two leading cycle racing trophies and the National Championship. By the time of his retirement from cycling he had won every important amateur cycling trophy in Britain.


Two men outside Frost's shop in Winchester
Sepia photo of William Hayward with a penny farthing by A.G. Rider
Frost's penny farthing
Frost's penny farthing from the back
F.D. Frost on another racing bike
The Carwardine Cup, won by Frost three times

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