The curious history of the DHBC 6-person tandem bicycle

A place for those keen on vintage and retro bikes - steel is real.
User avatar
Posts: 1120
Joined: 03 Jul 2011, 13:14
Location: Ashbury

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 >.
Tandem1.jpg (85.19 KiB) Viewed 1370 times
Photo taken in the early 1980s.
Right to Left: John McLachlan, daughter Leonie 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 1370 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).
20171112_143642.jpg (3.7 MiB) Viewed 1366 times
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 1371 times
A few years later this same tandem was used in a Cherryripe TV commercial, probably in 1970.

By 1976, the 6 seater tandem was still making an appearance at public events. Here it is at the 1976 Waratah Festival. The following 2 photos are courtesy of ex-club member John Wilson.
Tandem and Waratah Festival 1976.1.jpg
Tandem and Waratah Festival 1976.1.jpg (55.57 KiB) Viewed 1206 times
Jamie Richardson is on the unicycle and the club stalwart Claude Heathcote following motor pace bike. The unicycle was part of Claude’s collection, along with a track tandem he taught a few club members how to ride them.
Tandem and Waratah Festival 1976.2.jpg
Tandem and Waratah Festival 1976.2.jpg (65.1 KiB) Viewed 1206 times
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 1366 times
Last edited by marc2131 on 30 Apr 2018, 15:27, edited 14 times in total.

Posts: 148
Joined: 31 Aug 2009, 17:17
Location: Dulwich Hill

Postby weller » 06 Feb 2015, 10:59

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

User avatar
Posts: 6991
Joined: 13 Nov 2006, 13:48
Location: Tempe

Postby mikesbytes » 06 Feb 2015, 19:15

I believe that Al Sumners has it

Return to “Vintage Bicycles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest