Here is a game that has its roots deep in the Middle East. What started out as a training exercise for elite cavalry troops soon became a favorite of the nobility of Persia. This was mainly due to the fact that its only the nobility who could afford to have horses, and the free time to play such matches.
The popularity of the game saw it spread to various kingdoms and lands all across Asia, with the British encountering it in India. They imported the game and made it the favorite past time of the nobility.
Then came the Industrial Revolution.
At the time, Queen Victoria was the ruler of the British Commonwealth. It was also a time when the artists who had been repressed years before had resurged and added their vision to what the Commonwealth was to be. The Queen herself was a statement of style and class, why shouldn’t the kingdom follow in her footsteps?
In that time, various inventions and innovations were taking place. One of these was the velocipede, an ancestor of the bicycle. As the steam pressure was driving the industrial revolution, so too were the innovations getting made.
Pedals were added to the wheels of the velocipedes to make them move faster. Then the manufacturers began to make the wheels larger as they noticed that people could travel faster and further as the wheel grew larger.
At the same time, the velocipede was moving away from four wheels and was getting cut down to three wheels, then further cut down to two wheels. This was a new era, the era of the bicycle.
The two innovations were married and what came forth was a bicycle with a large front wheel, and a tiny rear wheel. At the height of the Victorian Era, this became a symbol of style, and earned the name Penny Farthing.
Adoption into Sport.
The Penny Farthing was the first bicycle that was used by the people of the Victorian Era as tools for sport. The first and most obvious is cycling around a circuit to find out who is the best of the bunch. This is still being practiced today even on an Olympic level.
The one that caught the eye though, was polo. Here is a game that was, and still is, played on horseback. There’s a very big problem though. The game was initially only meant for the nobility and the who’s who of society. This meant the game was meant for a chosen few.
As is absolutely human, no one was going to take that lying down. Yes, the fields were there, the rules were simple enough and the Industrial Revolution had made getting raw materials to be as easy as 1,2,3. The problem though, was the horses.
Horses are not cheap, especially the pedigree horses that are used by polo riders. The common man would have absolute trouble trying to keep up with taking care of the animal. Here’s a beautiful game though, would there be any substitutes?
Here’s where the Penny Farthing bicycle comes in. Instead of sing horses, why not use the bicycle?
That’s how polo on a Penny Farthing was born.