Devey bicycles and Cycling in Berwick

By the 1890s the bicycle was the well-established new medium of transport for getting about by the wealthy.  Production of the new bicycles was centred on London and Birmingham;  however new centres of production and shops were opening all over the country as bicycles became more widely available.  One of the production companies became associated with Berwick-upon-Tweed.


Joseph Devey (1834-1911), bicycle manufacturer


In the early 1870s Joseph Devey & Co.became established as bicycle-makers in Wolverhampton.  The owner Joseph Devey led a somewhat colourful life in Wolverhampton, before moving to Berwick-upon-Tweed and establishing a new factory there in 1888.  The new factory was situated to the north of Featherhead Lane, now Brucegate.


Joseph Devey’s poor start in life had a heavy impact on his early years, and especially on his drinking habits.  However Devey eventually took the pledge of total abstinence and became involved in the Temperance movement in Wolverhampton.  While in Berwick he promoted the development of Temperance Terrace in order to provide decent housing for workers in his factory.


A full account of Joseph Devey, his life and his businesses in Wolverhampton and Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the planning of Temperance Terrace, has been written by Keith Bailey; it appeared in the 2014 autumn edition of Tyne & Tweed magazine. A copy of the article can be read here (PDF; by kind permission of the author).


Northern X bicycle

A Northern “X” cycle built by Joseph Devey & Co. Photo © The Online Bike Museum



William T Shiell, Tweedside and Berwick Cycling Clubs


Willaim T Shiell was born in Chirnside in 1867, and both he and his younger brother David were to become avid cyclists.  The Shiell family by 1881 had moved from Chirnside to Berwick. 


In 1884 their father David senior took over the management of the The Welcome, a public house opened in 1877, and renamed it the The Welcome Temperance Hotel.  Both William and David became members of the original Tweedside Cycling Club, subsequently the Berwick Cycling Club. 


It was William who was to make a name for himself in cycling. In 1889 he became the first club member to cover over 200 miles in 24 hours, and in the next few.years he broke a number of other records.


William Shiell and his brother both appear to have had connections with Joseph Devey’s cycle factory, either making or selling the bicycles.  By 1901 however William was working as a baker, and in 1902 he died still only in his early thirties.


More information about the Shiell family and William’s cycling exploits can be found in this document (PDF; compiled by Julie Gibbs).


Temperance hotel advert

This advert for The Welcome Temperance Hotel appeared in the Berwickshire News and General Advertiser on Tuesday 1st January 1889.



The Elizabethan Guest House


The Elizabethan Guest House (pictured below) in Marygate, was formerly known as The Avenue Hotel, built in 1899 by a former mayor of Berwick, J W Weatherhead.  It was one of a number of Temperance Hotels which were built in the town, among them The Welcome Temperance Hotel which was situated opposite, and two hotels run by the Wood family, one in West Street and the other in Marygate, both were known as Wood’s Hotel.


An interesting feature of The Elizabethan Guest House is an early stone emblem of the Cycling Touring Club mounted on the front of the building, indicating its use by cyclists when it was previously known as The Avenue Hotel.


Elizabethan Town House

The Elizabethan Guest House. Photo © Kevin Graham

Cycling Toursts Club emblem

Cycling Touring Club emblem. Photo © Steve Ellwood (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK)