Edworthy monkey bicycle, single road type
This miniature road bicycle is one of the most unusual bicycles produced by the Sydney bicycle manufacturing firm, the Edworthy Cycle & Motor Works. It was made from a reduced-size frame and re-spoked pram wheels with solid rubber tyres for monkeys to ride at a circus at Taronga Park Zoo between 1936 and 1940.
For over thirty years the monkey circus delighted and entertained families and visitors at Taronga Zoo, overlooking Sydney Harbour. Edworthys were one of several of the firms who supplied bicycles to the zoo over the years. After a critical review in 1967, the Zoo embarked on its current philosophy of emphasising scientific research, conservation and education. Attractions including the elephant rides, miniature trains, merry-go-round and monkey circus were removed. The monkey circus closed in October 1967.
This monkey bicycle has significance in that it relates to the history of leisure in Sydney and its changing nature. It was built by Silas Edworthy, who was not only a NSW State cycling champion but a successful bicycle manufacturer and innovator. The miniature bicycle is also interesting as it was built decades before the manufacture and marketing of small-scale bicycles for young children to ride.
Assistant Curator, Science & Industry