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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
17th January 1899 Born today: Nevil Shute [Norway], London, novelist (On the Beach, Town Like Alice)
17th January 1886 Born today: Ronald Firbank, London, novelist (Flower Beneath the Foot)
17th January 1775 R B Sheridan's Rivals, premieres in London
17th January 1670 Highwayman Claude Duval found guilty of 6 robberies and sentenced to death.
Biker Denis Johnson worked here
The inventor of the hobby horse or first bicycle worked here.
Location: 69-75 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London
Description: Denis Johnson was a London coachmaker (1760-1833), married to Mary Newman in St Annes Church, Soho in 1792 and they had 2 daughters. He worked out of 75 Long Acre here for about 15 years from 1818.
Coachmaking was a main industry in this part of Covent Garden. About this time the 2-wheel velocipede was introduced by the German nobleman, Karl Von Drais and Johnson obtained one of these wooden machines and, seeing the potential it had, set about improving it.
His professional skills as a coachmaker enabled him to make an elegant machine which he patented and called the pedestrian curricle and then the hobby horse, it became Britains first bicycle and Regency dandies made them very popular.
The craze only lasted about three years and Johnson continued as a coachmaker until he died on Christmas Day 1833. The family business continued to trade here until 1867.
Tony Banks MP, the late Minister for Sport, unveiled the plaque in 1998.