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Freewheeling

Freedom is two wheels and an open road. Take a blissful ride through cycling's golden past.

Perhaps it's hard to imagine today, but the motor car wasn't always the unchallenged king of Britain's roads.

In the mid 20th century, one fifth of Britain's population cycled. The bicycle making industry boomed, and brands like Raleigh, Hercules, Phillips, Moulton, Humber, Rudge and Witcomb were known the world over.

Easy, democratic and affordable, cycling remains a massively popular leisure activity. And for most cyclists, a leisurely summer ride on country roads - with a gentle breeze on your face (but preferably not a strong headwind) - is one of life's great pleasures.

The bike still is one of the best ways to see rural Britain, but for anyone riding today's country roads, the virtually car-free world presented in this evocative selection of films will seem like a vision of a lost paradise.

"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them."

Ernest Hemingway

triangle triangle
Freewheeling

Recommended

View Rider!
Rider!
Watch for free 5 mins

Rider! 1945

Cycling stunts and sight gags in a music hall curio.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Cyclists Special
Cyclists Special
Watch for free

Cyclists Special 1956

A wonderful short film, produced by British Transport Films, about travelling around Britain by bicycle - with the help of the odd train.

United Kingdom

View Ladies on Bicycles
Ladies on Bicycles
Watch for free 1 mins

Ladies on Bicycles 1899

Anyone for synchronised cycling? Victorian belles show off their riding skills.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Peddlers' Progress
Peddlers' Progress
Watch for free 9 mins

Peddlers' Progress 1949

Join four clean-cut intrepid youngsters on an awfully big 1940s adventure as they sing and cycle their way around the youth hostels of scenic Scotland in glorious colour. Tally ho!

9 mins

View Fat Man on a Bicycle
Fat Man on a Bicycle
Watch for free 2 mins

Fat Man on a Bicycle 1914

A clumsy oversized cyclist causes chaos in this knockabout silent comedy.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Trick Cyclist Alf Tabb
Trick Cyclist Alf Tabb
Watch for free 6 mins

Trick Cyclist Alf Tabb 1972

Could you ride one of Alf Tabb's tiny home made bicycles? £5 says you can't.

6 mins United Kingdom

BROWSE THE COLLECTION

View Lady Cyclists
Lady Cyclists
Watch for free

Lady Cyclists 1899

A two-wheeled convoy of Victorian gentlewomen in a charming early film enigma.

United Kingdom

View Hercules: Lion Cubs
Hercules: Lion Cubs
Watch from £0.85 1 mins

Hercules: Lion Cubs 1956

A pair of cheeky lion cubs star in this animated advertisement for the 'Finest Bicycle Built Today'.

1 mins United Kingdom

View From Acorn to Oak
From Acorn to Oak
Watch from £0.85 5 mins

From Acorn to Oak 1938

A birthday card in film form, celebrating 50 years of the Dunlop pneumatic tyre.

5 mins United Kingdom Director. Montgomery Tully

View Bicycle Collection
Bicycle Collection
Watch for free 6 mins

Bicycle Collection 1976

Bone shakers, penny farthings and other antique cycles live on in Warwickshire rural retreat.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Nottingham: Cycle City
Nottingham: Cycle City
Watch for free 6 mins

Nottingham: Cycle City 1973

Can Nottingham become another Amsterdam? A visit to the city where cyclists and pedestrians are living in harmony.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Riding Abreast
Riding Abreast
Watch for free

Riding Abreast 1940

Three carefree schoolgirl cyclists learn the dangers of 'riding abreast' in this quaint cautionary tale shot in idyllic countryside.

22 mins United Kingdom

View Boy and Bicycle
Boy and Bicycle
Watch for free

Boy and Bicycle 1965 PG

Ridley Scott's first film features his younger brother, the late Tony Scott, as a schoolboy playing truant for the day to meander around Hartlepool on his bicycle, lost in his own thoughts.

United Kingdom Director. Ridley Scott

View Phillips Bicycles - Publicity Films for West Africa
Phillips Bicycles - Publicity Films for West Africa
Watch for free 5 mins

Phillips Bicycles - Publicity Films for West Africa 1954

From the West Midlands to West Africa: tour the Phillips bicycle plant in Smethwick and see the products in action overseas.

5 mins United Kingdom

View The Bespoke Bike
The Bespoke Bike
Watch for free 5 mins

The Bespoke Bike 1974

Where two-wheeled dreams come true: a visit to the legendary Witcomb bike shop in Deptford.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Cyclists Abroad
Cyclists Abroad
Watch from £0.85 15 mins

Cyclists Abroad 1957

A British Cyclists' Touring Club party explores 1950s Salzburg and the Austrian Tyrol in this lesser known British Transport Film.

15 mins United Kingdom Director. Tony Thompson

View Moulton Bicycle
Moulton Bicycle
Watch for free

Moulton Bicycle 1972

Innovation on two wheels - presenting the latest model of the design classic that reinvented British commuting.

30 mins United Kingdom

View Riding on Air
Riding on Air
Watch for free 16 mins

Riding on Air 1959

A beautiful and evocative survey of cycling's golden years.

16 mins United Kingdom

View Free Wheeling
Free Wheeling
Watch from £0.85

Free Wheeling 1979

Where have all the bicycles gone? Plenty of 70s flavour in a government-sponsored film aimed at promoting safer cycling initiatives.

United Kingdom Director. Alan Ross

View Rudge-Whitworth - Britain's Best Bicycle
Rudge-Whitworth - Britain's Best Bicycle
Watch for free 1 mins

Rudge-Whitworth - Britain's Best Bicycle 1902

A gentleman cyclist learns the error of his ways in one of the earliest surviving British film advertisements.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Wheels of Life
Wheels of Life
Watch from £0.85 5 mins

Wheels of Life 1929

Bonkers bikes promo. They don't make 'em like this any more... or do they?

5 mins United Kingdom

View Raleigh: Fred Mitchell
Raleigh: Fred Mitchell
Watch for free

Raleigh: Fred Mitchell 1980

Industrial relations and management's 'pound of flesh', on the shop floor of a large engineering firm in Nottingham.

25 mins United Kingdom

View Raleigh: Alan Oakley
Raleigh: Alan Oakley
Watch for free

Raleigh: Alan Oakley 1980

Alan Oakley is the man that gave Britain the iconic Raleigh Chopper bike. This 1980 profile finds him moving from drawing board to boardroom.

United Kingdom Director. Graham Moore

View Parisian Pedallers
Parisian Pedallers
Watch for free 1 mins

Parisian Pedallers 1929

Take a tour de France as cyclists double up for a tandem race through Paris's Bois de Boulogne.

1 mins United Kingdom

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