WWI ammunition bike restored after decades in Enys House shed

Ben Evans with the restored WWI bike

Ben Evans with the restored WWI bike

First published in News

A World War I service bicycle has been discovered by volunteers at Enys House after lying undisturbed in a locked outbuilding for almost 70 years.

Ben Evans, one of the volunteers who are working on opening and restoring the house and the gardens, found the bike in a poor state of repair when a team broke into the old stable four weeks ago. The building had been locked following the departure of Dutch troops who were billeted there while they were serving at the house during World War II.

After stripping down layers of paint he found the bike painted in green World War I service paint, and repaired and restored it over four weeks, including sourcing replacement tyres made by Triumph. The only part of the bike he was unable to replace was the pedals, although he is trying to find someone who can refit the originals.

Ben said: “It was found in one of the outbuildings in an awful state. It was seized up, with bits falling off, none of it serviceable.

“Apart from the pedals it's all completely original. The original ammo tin was in the building along with an oil can.”“Now it's fully functioning I ride it around the estate.”

He thinks it's an example of one of the last bicycles made by Triumph before the start of the First World War, when the company started focusing on producing motorbikes.

He has contacted the National Cycle Museum, but while they have records of similar models made for civilian use, this is the only one they know of with military markings.

Ben said: “It had 'boneshaker' written on the original paintwork. It was war department green on the front and back mudguards, and still had blackout markings on the rear mudguard.”

Following its service during World War I, the bicycle was transferred to civilian use, before being requisitioned during World War II.

Ben believes it was used by a Lieutenant LJ Pronk, who was with the Dutch marines based at the house while it served as the Dutch Naval College for sailors in exile from the occupied Netherlands, and whose belongings were found stored in a trunk.

Ben said: “We're working with the Royal Naval College in the Netherlands to find out what happened to him. He left in 1946 but never came back.”

He added: “We're constantly turning up stuff from the Great War. There must have been something going on we don't know about.

The total cost of the restoration was £70, and Ben said: “For something we found in the shed, it's not bad.”

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