The curious history of the DHBC 6-person tandem bicycle

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Postby marc2131 » 06 Feb 2015, 04:17

I am sure many of you will be familiar with the picture of a 6-seater tandem bicycle on the DHBC history page < ... andem.html >.

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Photo taken in the early 1980s.
Right to Left: John McLachlan, daughter born in 1977, Arthur Dempsey, unknown, Michael ??, Brad Cox and Mick Mazza. Info provided by Liz O'Brien, daughter of John and Margaret McLachlan.

Tandem2.png (73.42 KiB) Viewed 122 times

Tandem probably at Camperdown Velodrome. Front to back: Mick Mazza, Arthur Dempsey, Margaret McLachlan, John McLachlan, unknown, ??Lionel Cox.

However there appears to be a bit of a history behind this bike. According to Sonia Heathcoate's 1988 book 'Dulwich Hill Cycling Days 1908-1988', the tandem was found by Jack Gleason lying at the AWA premises (near Parramatta Rd, Ashfield?) ready to 'be thrown on the scrap heap'. It was originally branded as a 'Koala, Bradly Bros'. It had no fittings or fork. I assume this would have been in the late 1950s.
According to Mick Mazza, the tandem was rebuilt by frame builder Bill 'Alvia' Connolly and the boys at Alcon cycles (312 Victoria Rd, Marrickville) and painted in red, being the club colours. The tandem was used in the Waratah Festival, Festival of Parramatta, Fishers Ghost Festival and the infamous parade for US President Lyndon B Johnson ("All the way with LBJ") in Sydney in 1966.
The riders in this photo R to L are Roy Still, John McLachlan, Mick Mazza, Phil Sheedy, Colin Crowfoot and Arthur Percival. Bob Stephens is standing (c. 1960-62).

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The second photo was probably taken during the 1966 parade for US President Lyndon B Johnson to drum up support for the Vietnam war. Anti-war protesters were out in force on the day. And the DHBC riders found themselves in the midst of the protest. Then Australian PM Harold "All the Way with LBJ" Holt was famously quoted telling his motorcade to drive over anti-war protesters. Mick Mazza said the police told them to do the same. Fortunately the DHBC contingent refused and turned around. A short while later, the front fork snapped. Even today, Mick appears rather distressed by the whole incident.

1966 LBJ tandem welcome in Sydney.jpg
1966 LBJ tandem welcome in Sydney.jpg (813.5 KiB) Viewed 123 times

A few years later this same tandem was used in a Cherryripe TV commercial, probably in 1970.

So where is this tandem today? Fortunately we've been told it is in a secure location and unfortunately a bit worse for wear. However with time and a bit of persuasion, we might be able to get it back on the road, hopefully at a future Sydney Classic Bicycle Show event.
20171112_143642.jpg (3.7 MiB) Viewed 118 times
Last edited by marc2131 on 08 Mar 2018, 15:05, edited 11 times in total.

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Postby weller » 06 Feb 2015, 10:59

Maybe Christian, his frame building skills could fashion a new one??

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Postby mikesbytes » 06 Feb 2015, 19:15

I believe that Al Sumners has it

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