A Manufacturing Metropolis
Diamond Victor Cycle shop in Sturt Street, 1901
Reproduced from Ballarat and District in 1901
The Diamond Victor company was one of the first bicycle businesses to set up a store in Ballarat.
By 1901, it was recognised as one of the leading and most modern cycling factories in Australasia.
Ballarat’s mining and engineering sector shaped Ballarat’s bicycle industry. Local blacksmiths, miners and foundry workers used their skills to produce bicycles.
James Ivey, from the Miners’ Foundry, was one of the first local bicycle manufacturers. Ivey began making bicycles in the late 1860s and ran his own riding school three nights a week for interested cyclists.
Ballarat became a hub for bicycle manufacturing from the 1890s as the mining and metal industry declined. Former metal workers and miners moved into bicycle production, making Ballarat one of the strongest bicycle manufacturing centres in Australia.
By 1907, there were 11 companies in Ballarat’s central business district catering to the town’s cycling needs. Local bicycle stores usually consisted of a repairs department, a production area and a shop which stocked the latest bicycles and accessories. They also promoted local cycling by organising racing competitions and sponsoring cyclists.
The Davies-Franklin Cycling Company was the most renowned bicycle brand in Ballarat between the 1890s and 1910s. Mortimer Franklin and WP Davies established their shop in Sturt Street in 1895. They produced a variety of bicycles and components. The company had the largest network of agencies selling Davies-Franklin models across Australia. By 1904, Davies-Franklin had the largest bicycle factory in Australia, employing a total of 60 men and 150 agents.
The local bicycle industry declined after World War One as businesses moved into the production of motorcycles and cars. However, companies such as Quayle and Gove continued Ballarat’s bicycle-making tradition into the mid-20th century.