Arthur E Hartley was a prominent Western Australian educator. Gifted intellectually and musically, he made his own way in life and devoted himself to many passions, among them cycling.
He and his wife Edith (cousin to famous Australian cyclist Hubert “Oppy” Opperman) toured Germany on a tandem, bringing their stories home to the schools where they taught in Perth.
This bicycle, one on which he would have ridden over most of the roads and bush tracks in the South West, shows the hand of an owner who valued performance over fashion. Built on a high quality mid-century Australian made Speedwell it sports high end components from the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and China.
The Brooks saddle and 4 speed Sturmey Archer hub were personal favourites of Arthur’s. Upright handlebars replaced the original drop bars as comfort took precedence over speed. The frame was painted by Nelson Smith, head painter at Malvern Star cycles in Perth, another cousin of Edith’s.
Arthur kept a regular diary from his arrival in WA until his recent death at age 105. Two excerpts are presented below.
On riding from his teaching post at Warner Glen to Perth;
On Friday 21 December 1928, I set out on my marathon ride to Perth. The journey from Karridale to Margaret River lay through heavy forest country and the shade that the trees afforded from the sun was very welcome. I noticed a sign board which denoted the Lake Cave, but unfortunately the gate was locked and the guide many miles away, so I pushed on past the Mammoth Cave, then up a steep and rough climb at the top of which I was delighted with the glorious prospect of sweeping sand plain and sea, equal to many parts of the Sussex Downs. I pressed on to the 35 mile post where I stopped for lunch. From there I knocked back the miles with ease apart from a stretch of sand some two miles long. I stopped for a drink from the school tank at Yallingup and a little further on, when I felt my legs would not go round any more, stopped for tea. Much refreshed, I enjoyed a glorious run into Busselton in the moonlight, the scenery evoking memories of riding in the old country at night. Four miles out of Busselton, I heard the whistle of the train and I turned on the speed, reaching there as it was about to pull out. I met up with some friends, found a bed at Kinsellas and slept the sleep of the just.
Next morning, I sent off a couple of Christmas cards, did of little shopping and set off for Bunbury. There was heavy sand around Ludlow and the last eight miles into Bunbury were very rough, the journey being made more uncomfortable by the sticky flies. I passed through Picton and Waterloo arriving at Harvey for tea, and once again had a beautiful moonlight ride into Waroona where I met up with friends. Len Oakley rode the rest of the way with me and we made good time the next morning, reaching Whitby Falls by lunch time. When I arrived at Claremont at 7.30 pm, Bill and his fiance, Betty, and Jessie were out, so I went and picked up my luggage and kept myself awake until they came home.
On touring with friends some years later;
Kim (Beazley) and John were keen, but not very practised bike riders and decided to accompany me on a trip to Toodyay. Previously, they had found trouble in keeping my pace, so they decided to hire a tandem so they could 'show me a back wheel!'. I had left overnight for Northam and Goomalling where I was to meet with Charlie Staples, now teaching at a little school outside Goomalling. The following morning I cycled across to Toodyay to meet Kim and John. They were quite disenchanted with the tandem, for it proved more difficult that they had anticipated. But when I took the front seat and gave John my little racing bicycle, I was able to show Kim just how, with skilled technique, the tandem could be sent along some miles an hour faster than the single bike.