Martin Diederich Rucker was baptised on the 3rd of May 1855 at West Hackney, the
son of Martin Diederich Rucker and Mary Wilton. His grandfather also
bore the same name, the middle name being spelt Diederich or Diederick
(Diederich on the marriage certificates), and sometimes as Dietrich/k.
His grandfather was naturalised by Private Bill in 1818.
He was educated at Cheltenham College and married at Blackfriars on 22
May 1880 - Martin Diederick Rucker only
son of Martin Diederich Rucker of Croydon to Emmie Lottie the eldest
surviving daughter of Allen Page Nicholls.
Rucker is in private life one of the most pleasant and companionable
of men, ever brimful of fun and equal to any emergency; and like an
"Admiral Crichton", excelling in every manly, exercise, being adept at,
running, jumping, walking, swimming, boxing, dancing, rowing, skating
and diving, whilst as an amateur acrobat, whether on the bicycle or off
it, he is the best amateur of the day. As an instance, he has no step on
his 57" bicycle, but vaults playfully into the saddle, and generally
shoots a hill lying flat on his back on his saddle, with his legs over
Martin was with the 26th Middlesex
Regt., the forerunner to the 25th London.
- 26th Middlesex (Cyclist) Volunteer Corps-Captain Percy Hughes Hewitt,
Reserve of Officers, late Captain 6th Dragoon Guards, to be Major, F. P.
Fletcher Vane, Esq., late Lieut. Scots Guards, to be Captain. The
undermentioned gents to be Lieutenants, Tom de Bruno Holmes, Martin
Diedrich Rucker, Robert Edward Phillips, to date April 1st, 1888."
[London Gazette - 24th February, 1888]
- A story, however, may be told which will show that there was a
time when our Commander-in-Chief had his doubts of the efficacy of
cycles being adapted for military purposes this happened in 1887,
the first appearance of military wheelmen at Dover. Some two or
three miles from the seaport town there is a picturesque little
village called Keursney, and amongst its sights is a particularly
steep hill leading to St. Radigund's Abbey. The Duke chanced to pass
where the military cyclists were congregated together, and
approaching the officer in command, good-humouredly looking up at
the hill, his Royal Highness said, Well, I've no doubt your men are
a capable body, but I question Whether any cyclist could possibly
mount that hill-." Now it so happened that there was a very fast
rider present, an exceptionally powerful man on wheels, Mr.
M. D. Rucker. This little fact the commanding officer knew,
and asked the Duke for permission to put his remarks to the test;
this was readily granted, and away Mr. Rucker went on his machine,
the Duke himself watching him for a considerable distance until at
last he rode away himself. Some time passed by, when again the
cyclist body found itself near to the Duke: once more riding up, he
asked, "Is that man back yet?" when our smart cyclist immediately
stepped up with a salute, and said, "Yes; sir, here I am." We are
probably right in saying that this was the foundation of the Duke's
faith in utilising cyclists for military purposes, as having sent a
horseman with him, at the first six-barred gate, which was locked,
the cyclist lifted his machine over, leaving the unfortunate
"galloper " behind, his horse refusing to take the gate.
[The Strand Magazine - Vol. 2, No.7, July
- Dec 1891, pgs 31-38.]
- Rucker was an amateur trick rider, besides being an ex-champion,
and he it was who astonished the Duke of Cambridge, subsequently, by
his success in riding across country on a cycle.
London Cyclist Battalion' by
the Old Comrades Assoc. 1932]
Following first his father's business as a shipbroker, and taking a
;leading part in running, Rucker became bitten by the cycle fever, and
being elected to the London Bicycle Club, and subsequently to its
captaincy, went into cycling with such earnestness. Rucker became involved in the manufacture of bicycles,
however he found it hard to compete in London and he succumbed as a
manufacturer and became manager of Humber & Co. in Nottingham.
- 1882 - BSA
made 65 tricycles for Messrs. M. D. Rucker and Co. of London; the
tricycle was known as "The Rucker".
1883 - Partnership dissolved. '...the Partnership heretofore
existing between us the undersigned,
Martin Diederich Rucker the younger and
Frederick Warner Jones, carrying on business as Bicycle and
Tricycle Manufacturers, at Letchford-buildings, Bethnal Green, in
the county of Middlesex, under the style or firm of
M. D. Rucker, jun., and Co., has
been dissolved, by mutual consent, as from the 16th day of October,
1883. All debts due to and owing by the said late firm will be
received and paid by the said Martin Diederich Rucker the younger,
who will continue to carry on the business at the same place...'
[Gazette Issue 25282 published on the 26
October 1883. Page 27 of 52]
1884 Bankrupt. 'Rucker, Martin Diederick, 82, Bethune-road, Stoke
Newington, Middlesex, and
Jackson, Herbert Soames, Finchley, Middlesex (trading as M. D.
Rucker, Jun., and Company, 6, Letchford's-building, Bethnal Green,
Middlesex). Bicycle and Tricycle Manufacturers'
[Gazette Issue 25390 published on the 26 August 1884. Page 28 of 44]
- 1884 The Company introduced possibly the first tandem cycle that
bears resemblance to todays tandem bicycles, be that the two wheels
were much larger, being 56” in diameter.
"One of the strangest
looking machines, both wheels are large and of the same
size and support a stout bar, at the extremities of
which the two riding saddles are placed. Each rider has
a separate steering apparatus, and thus the hindermost
rider is not obliged to run in the track of the leader
[Leeds Mercury Friday 07 March 1888]
It is this machine that todays early bicycle enthusiasts relate
to in connection with the Rucker Company although they offered for
sale Ordinaries and Tricycles as well.
John Player cigarette card No.13 from their 1939 set shows a
Rucker Tandem, a painting or painted photograph of the large photo
below. The following is written on the reverse of the card .
. . 'The earliest effort at tandem bicycle construction was made by
M. D. Rucker about 1884. It consisted of two Ordinary driving wheels
with the backbone of the front wheel joined to the steering head of
the rear wheel As is apparent from the design, it was unsatisfactory
and called for an acrobatic degree of skill to balance the machine.
Only a few were made but it lingered longer as a type in America and
Germany than in this country.'
|Rucker made another tandem, probably the first practical
machine of this type. In a paper on "Construction of Cycles"
read before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1885, Mr.
R. E. Phillips says, "This tandem bicycle ... eclipses the
earlier, and bids fair to prove the fastest cycle yet produced.
The weight is only 55lbs, and it is, therefore, the lightest
machine yet mad to carry two riders."
['Bicycles & Tricycles: A Classic Treatise on Their Design and
Construction' by Archibald Sharp 1977]
Other Sources :-
 Grace's Guide is the leading source of information about
industry and manufacturing in Britain from the start of the
Industrial Revolution to the present time.
Standard - Wednesday 26 May 1880.
 Parish Register
 Roger Bird - author of forthcoming book.
 Parliamentary Archives Catalogue (Portcullis).