Replica of the world's first bicycle

Contributed by Dumfries Museum

In 1839 a blacksmith, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, fitted pedal operated cranks to a hobby horse to create the first bicycle.

The Glasgow Herald reported an accident with the bicycle, concluding, "This invention will not supersede the railway."Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813 - 1878) was a blacksmith at Courthill Smithy, Keir, on the Drumlanrig estate of the Duke of Buccleuch in south west Scotland. Around 1839 he fitted pedal operated cranks to the rear wheel of a hobby horse, so inventing the world's first bicycle.

In 1842, aged 29, Macmillan set out from Courthill Smithy on his bicycle to visit his brothers in Glasgow - a round trip of 130 miles. He stayed in Cumnock overnight, and arrived in Glasgow the following day. A large crowd gathered to watch him pass, and in the confusion he knocked down a young girl as he was pedalling through the Gorbals. The child was uninjured, but Macmillan was fined 5 shillings. Five shillings, or 25 pence, was a couple of days wages for the average working man. The Glasgow Herald reported the incident, concluding, 'This invention will not supersede the railway'.

In the 1860s Thomas McCall, a joiner and wheelwright of Kilmarnock, built and sold copies of Macmillan's bicycle for £7.00 each.

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