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Sculpture of world’s first pedal bike unveiled at start of Kirkpatrick coast to coast

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The route, which is one of the longest coast to coast cycle routes in the UK, is named after the inventor of the world’s first pedal bike, Kirkpatrick Macmillan. The Dumfriesshire blacksmith created the bike, known as the velocipede, in 1839.

Now, the new eye-catching sculpture of the bike has been created by local blacksmith brothers, Finn and Sam Barlow who are based in a workshop in Auchencairn, near Castle Douglas.

Measuring 4ft tall and 4ft wide, it is made of steel and weighs 300kg, costing £14,500 and taking three months to design and build.

The Herald:

The brothers paid homage to Kirkpatrick Macmillan through more than just the form of the sculpture, choosing to approach the project as the famous blacksmith would have by combining traditional blacksmithing skills with innovative design.

Finn and Sam Barlow said: “In researching this project we instinctively recognised the employment of craft skill and technological innovation which brought about the genesis of the original Kirkpatrick Velocipede. 

“We approached our project in a similar manner, combining today’s methods of CAD design and laser cutting with traditional Blacksmithing techniques to produce a viable replica of the world’s first treadle bicycle. 

“We also built in various aspects to meet the brief as a robust and ergonomic piece of public sculpture.”


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The sculpture is life-sized and designed to bear weight, meaning cyclists about to attempt the Kirkpatrick route can now mark the occasion with a photo of them sitting atop the representation of the first pedal bicycle.

The brothers added: “We hope that many people of all ages will interact with the piece, using their eyes and bodies to understand how the velocipede works and why it was such an important milestone in the development of human-powered transport. Maybe they will be inspired to cycle some of the same roads that Kirkpatrick Macmillan used to test out his marvellous machine.”

At the other end of the Kirkpatrick C2C, on the Berwickshire Coast, a new artwork has been installed at Eyemouth Harbour marking the endpoint.

The route which was unveiled last summer has already proved to be a huge draw for the South of Scotland. Early projections before its July 2023 soft launch suggested it could attract up to 175,000 new visitors to the region, with a direct spend of £13.7M per year.

Now locals are hoping this new addition can help promote the cycle path and bring even more visitors to the area.

Art Officer at Creative Stranraer, Janet Jones, said: “It’s brilliant for Stranraer having the fabulous new coast-to-coast cycle route starting in the town, it really puts it on the map for a whole new audience of potential visitors. Creative Stranraer was thrilled to get involved in this public art project to mark the route’s official start point and the Barlow brothers have absolutely knocked it out of the park with their magnificent tribute in steel to Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s world-changing invention.

“We hope it will inspire locals of all ages to also embrace cycling in the town and all the benefits it brings and take pride in the route starting here. We will celebrate cycling locally on 22 June, from 11-1pm at Agnew Park – come along and join the fun.”

The Herald: Cycling enthusiast Josh Wood

For cyclists who want a challenge, the Kirkpatrick C2C can be tackled over four days, while the slower Explorer Route allows riders to immerse themselves in the beauty, heritage and charm of the South of Scotland, spending eight days completing the route from Stranraer to Eyemouth with plenty of places to stay, visit, eat and drink along the way.

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to have funded the interactive sculpture, created by local blacksmith brothers, to mark the start of the Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycling route.

“SOSE has helped, alongside partners, to develop this fantastic cycling route which showcases some of the most beautiful sea views and picturesque towns across the South of Scotland.

“Cycling continues to offer significant social, economic and environmental opportunities to the region, and our long-term aim is to make the South the leading cycling destination in Scotland by 2032.”

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