World Champion Cyclist Plays It Up For Christchurch Camera – 1888

Early in 1888, British born World Champion cyclist, Frederick Wood, stages a crash with his penny farthing for Alfred Ernest Preece, a Christchurch photographer. It is taken at Lancaster Park.

For Christchurch born Preece, it could have been more about his love of cycles rather than his love of being behind the camera that lead him to Lancaster Park that day. He had once run a cycle shop of his own, known as ‘Alfred Preece’s Cycling Exchange’, sited at the intersection of Cashel and Colombo Streets. It was in the early 1880’s, during a visit to England to purchase more cycles, that he was introduced to photography. He came back to Christchurch five months later, sold his bike business and went into partnership with photographer Frank Standish. Many of the images of Christchurch and Her people, during that era (which spanned well into the 20th century) are thanks to them.

Frederick Wood was born in 1861 and was a carpenter by trade. While he earned his living, he took a keen interest in cycling and began to compete in racing. Between 1880 and 1889, he won championship after championship, medal after medal, not only in Britain but also in America and Australia. His most favourite cycle was the 57” Humber Penny Farthing.

After suffering from bad rheumatism, Wood was forced to give up cycling. He then took an interest in his hometown back in England by becoming a councillor and he supported the ‘Ingham Infirmary’, ‘Institute of the Blind’ and ‘Fund for Shoeless Children’. Later in life, he was known as publican, caterer and landlord.

Tragically in 1935, he fell down the cellar steps of the pub he owned and was killed by a facture to the base of his skull.

* Photo courtesy of the Christchurch City Libraries – http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Photos/Disc1/IMG0072*

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