the Ariel cycle, built by Haynes & Jefferis for Smith & Starley

Haynes & Jefferis were one of the first cycle manufacturers based in Coventry when the industry was in its infancy.

When James Starley left the Coventry Machinists Company in the early 1870s, he formed a partnership with colleague William Hillman, and together they developed and patented the ‘Ariel’ bicycle, based on improvements made to the French Michaux type velocipedes. Hillman soon went on to other things, and Starley went into partnership will the wealthy William Smith, to form Smith, Starley & Co.

In 1871, Smith and Starley entered into an agreement with a Mr. T. Haynes and Mr. J. Jefferis for them to make the Ariel bicycle under license at a factory at Spon End, Coventry. Starley and Smith received a royalty for each cycle sold while he continued to make sewing machines – a continuation of his earlier activities at the Coventry Machinists Company. Because of this agreement, Haynes & Jefferis became the first company in Coventry, and possibly Great Britain, to be sole manufacturers of cycles.

A number of notable individuals worked at Haynes & Jefferis in the company’s early years. J K Starley was given a position at the firm by his uncle, James Starley, in 1872. Thomas Bayliss, later of Bayliss, Thomas and Company worked also there for a time, as did Harry J. Lawson as manager before going on to things of much greater significance.

In 1880, George Woodcock bought the Haynes & Jefferis Company as well as other local cycle concerns while James Starley went on to form a separate cycle business with his sons. Woodcock then reorganised his new companies and merged them into the beginnings of what would later become the Rudge Cycle Company.

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