Mr Charles A Fuge was born in 1861 in Viewfield Cottage in Perthshire, the firth child of James Henry Fuge and Maria. Following the early death of his mother, by 1881 the family had moved to Blantyre. Charles, aged 20 had by then obtained employment as a bank clerk.
He lived on Glasgow Road at Woodside Cottage, which is still there today. With him at the house was elder sister Maria Fuge (25) and his widowed father James (57).
Mr Fuge was a late 19th Century member of the Royal Scottish Bicycle Club, and his chosen ride was a 54 inch D.H.F. Challenge for which he paid the princely sum of £19 from a dealership in Gordon Street, Glasgow. These bicycles were penny farthing types made by the Singer Company, and one of the selling points was that both wheels had ball bearings. (D.H.F. stood for “double hollow fork”)
On Saturday the 19th June 1880 he departed from Glasgow on his Challenge cycle and pedalled all the way to Crieff in 5 hours and 50 minutes, so over the fifty mile journey his average speed was 8½ miles per hour. Then after a days’ rest he left on the Monday morning and headed for Dundee, continuing on to Stonehaven, and finally making it to Aberdeen after about twelve hours in the saddle, his average speed over this 131 mile journey being around 11 miles per hour, quite amazing when we consider that it rained most of the way and the roads in 1880 was probably no better than dirt tracks.
Taking a couple of days off, Mr Fuge then headed on towards Huntly, and continuing on to Forres, before completing the final part of Thursdays’ route in Elgin a full 95 miles from Aberdeen, a journey which, in better weather, he covered in 7½ hours doing an average speed of 13 miles per hour.
After these exertions, Mr Fuge took a little break over at Cromarty, before returning to Forres, where, on Friday the 9th of July, he boarded a train for Perth with his Challenge. Once he arrived in Perth, he retrieved his cycle from the Guard’s Van, and set off immediately for Blantyre, some seventy miles south.
Unfortunately there was a strong wind against him most of the way and he complained of the roads not being very good, so Mr Fuge on this last leg of the expedition only managed an average speed of 10½ miles per hour arriving home in 6½ hours.
In all, Charles Fuge rode 381 miles on that excursion at an overall average speed of 11 miles per hour. I’m sure he would have been the toast of the Royal Scottish Bicycle Club and would have had many tales to tell during their winter meetings.
By 1891, Charles still lived at home on Glasgow aged 30, beside his father now 67 and sister aged 35. There is no indication that Charles had married by this time. His father died by 9th July 1892 and following a family member’s legal challenge on their property Woodside, Charles left Blantyre, possibly to go to Canada. (passenger listings of that name are known and no further Scottish census records)
Thank you to Gordon Cook for much of this article.