The Cyclists by Ian Gregory

Like an unstoppable archiving juggernaut, Buxton Museum volunteer Ian Gregory has been helping us catalogue our vast collection of photographs and postcards. Every now and again, I ask him if he has stumbled upon anything interesting …

One of the many photographs in the museum’s archives shows a young woman holding a bicycle. It dates back to the 1920s and she is involved in a parade of cyclists in Fairfield, a housing estate in Buxton. Her lightweight summer dress and mode of transport suggest freedom. Her gender had just won the right to vote so this image feels appropriate for the age.

PC 0074 front

Then again, real life can be more complex than a single image would suggest. Women had cleared a major hurdle in political terms but other groups still experienced discrimination. Homosexuality was still a crime. There was much ill-feeling between English and Irish people, following the partition of Ireland. As the 20th century went on, numbers of deaf people in paid employment decreased.

The move towards liberalism had to begin somewhere. With so many sides to fight on, perhaps it was inevitable some battles took longer than others. As she prepares to set off on the parade, I wish my long-ago cyclists all the best.

To see more images from Buxton Museum’s collection, visit excellent website Picture the Past.



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