Strong Thames currents end fundraising water bicycle bid

Terry Hammond near the Swinford Toll Bridge at Eynsham before he was advised to call off his charity marathon  Picture: OX54805 Steve Wheeler

Terry Hammond near the Swinford Toll Bridge at Eynsham before he was advised to call off his charity marathon Picture: OX54805 Steve Wheeler Buy this photo

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

A BIZARRE water bicycle, which lay unused in a shed for years, had its first bid for glory scuppered by strong river currents.

Terry Hammond set off on Friday from Lechlade on an ambitious charity cycle ride down the Thames. But he only got as far as Godstow, Oxford, when a lock-keeper advised him on Sunday that the contraption would not get to London safely in the strong currents.

He hopes to be able to try again in the Spring.

Mr Hammond discovered the unique, hand-built contraption, nicknamed “Skippy”, after searching on the internet.

The unusual bicycle is the result of years of hard work by Oxford academic David Witt.

Mr Witt said: “This is not just a bicycle in water, those have been made since the 19th century.

“If you want to make a boat that is fast, you want to make it long and thin, but then it falls over.

“Skippy has two floats above the level of the water which don’t impede the movement but act as breaks.”

Mr Witt and his colleagues at the Oxford University department of engineering began work on their prototype in 1984, described as “a pretty amateur job”.

The first effort kept falling over, which prompted the addition of the floats.

After years of revision, the final Skippy hit the water in 2003.

However, Mr Witt had already retired in 1999, and felt he was past the point where he wanted to keep falling in the water testing his creation.

So, Skippy ended up in storage for almost 10 years until an email arrived out of the blue from Southampton resident, Mr Hammond.

Mr Hammond came down to take a look in January, then tried it out in the spring. In July he took it on its first real journey in 10 years, eight miles down the river to Eynsham.

Mr Hammond, 65, said: “I have raised funds before and I tend to go for wacky ideas. I try to do that both to bring a smile to people’s faces, and to raise people’s awareness of mental health, for people to take more notice of their mental health and not to be frightened of it.

“When I did the training run it was absolutely fantastic. From a distance it does look like I’m riding a bike on the river, lots of people were smiling and cheering me. It certainly brings a smile to people’s face.”

Mr Hammond’s son Stephen has schizophrenia, and he was raising money for mental health charity Rethink.

Comments (5)

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9:02am Tue 9 Oct 12

Myron Blatz says...

Something to keep people fit and healthy with, and help to beat traffic pollution, or a fun hing for tourists instead of punts? After all, they all laughed at the bicycle, the car, aeroplane and the Sinclair C5.
Something to keep people fit and healthy with, and help to beat traffic pollution, or a fun hing for tourists instead of punts? After all, they all laughed at the bicycle, the car, aeroplane and the Sinclair C5. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

9:45am Tue 9 Oct 12

Darkforbid says...

Now that is a rubbish design,,, love the stabilizers
Now that is a rubbish design,,, love the stabilizers Darkforbid
  • Score: 0

2:35pm Tue 9 Oct 12

King Joke says...

“Skippy has two floats above the level of the water which don’t impede the movement but act as breaks.”

I can remember a time when to qualify as a journalist you had to know how to spell. Quite what Pete Hughes thinks 'breaks' are supposed to achieve on a boat is a mystery. Maybe they are for when Terry stops pedalling for a bit and has a Kit-Kat?
“Skippy has two floats above the level of the water which don’t impede the movement but act as breaks.” I can remember a time when to qualify as a journalist you had to know how to spell. Quite what Pete Hughes thinks 'breaks' are supposed to achieve on a boat is a mystery. Maybe they are for when Terry stops pedalling for a bit and has a Kit-Kat? King Joke
  • Score: 0

7:03pm Tue 9 Oct 12

Myron Blatz says...

Ah, yes ineed, King Joke - journalists wot can smell propa! Them woz the days - and also when local politicians used to represent local people, listen to what local people actually wanted or didn't want, and when folk could walk-out of one job in the morning, start a new one in the afternoon, and still catch the train the next day for a week's holiday in Tenby - and the little British Rail truck would collect the Family luggage from your home, and deliver it to your seaside boarding house! Naw, maybe the problem with them journalists these days is that they all have college degrees and use them things called 'computers' instead of being born under the Stone Sub's desk and spending their entire lives learning their trade on the same newspaper - and for the very slow, possibly the same edition.
Ah, yes ineed, King Joke - journalists wot can smell propa! Them woz the days - and also when local politicians used to represent local people, listen to what local people actually wanted or didn't want, and when folk could walk-out of one job in the morning, start a new one in the afternoon, and still catch the train the next day for a week's holiday in Tenby - and the little British Rail truck would collect the Family luggage from your home, and deliver it to your seaside boarding house! Naw, maybe the problem with them journalists these days is that they all have college degrees and use them things called 'computers' instead of being born under the Stone Sub's desk and spending their entire lives learning their trade on the same newspaper - and for the very slow, possibly the same edition. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

5:37pm Thu 11 Oct 12

paul from Kennington says...

King Joke wrote:
“Skippy has two floats above the level of the water which don’t impede the movement but act as breaks.”

I can remember a time when to qualify as a journalist you had to know how to spell. Quite what Pete Hughes thinks 'breaks' are supposed to achieve on a boat is a mystery. Maybe they are for when Terry stops pedalling for a bit and has a Kit-Kat?
I think the term is correct as in water Breaks.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: “Skippy has two floats above the level of the water which don’t impede the movement but act as breaks.” I can remember a time when to qualify as a journalist you had to know how to spell. Quite what Pete Hughes thinks 'breaks' are supposed to achieve on a boat is a mystery. Maybe they are for when Terry stops pedalling for a bit and has a Kit-Kat?[/p][/quote]I think the term is correct as in water Breaks. paul from Kennington
  • Score: 0

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