Streetbikes ensure Beryl keeps on rolling

Huddersfield based cycling charity Streetbikes have donated 40 old bicycle wheels to the set of Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s forthcoming production of Beryl.


The true story of unsung cycling legend Beryl Burton, written by actress Maxine Peake, Beryl is an inspirational tour-de-force fuelled by rhubarb, northern charm and fierce determination.  


Oldham Coliseum’s Production and Stage Management teams regularly source an array of weird and wonderful objects that appear as props and as part of the theatre’s sets for plays and musicals – from shepherd’s hooks to furniture, and even dirt. Set design is a creative and practical interpretation of the setting of a play or musical, incorporating everything you see on the stage throughout the show. The Coliseum’s sets are designed by freelance designers on a show-by-show basis, and then brought to life by Splinter Scenery at their workshop in nearby Ashton-under-Lyne.    


For the theatre’s production of Beryl, Designer Irene Jade envisioned a wall of wheels requiring dozens of tyres to construct. Coliseum Production Manager Adam Gent reached out to Streetbikes earlier this year and last week Gill and Dave Greaves from Streetbikes met Adam and Splinter’s Director Alec Graham at the Splinter workshop to donate the wheels.

Streetbikes provide cycling sessions and bikes for all abilities to cycle in a safe and secure environment, enabling people to improve their health and wellbeing through cycling. In their 13 years as a charity, they have donated 13,000 recycled bikes to people who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford one.


The charity is also connected to Beryl Burton’s legacy through their Patron Brian Robinson BEM, who used to ride with Beryl, and with Beryl’s daughter Denise through the Yorkshire cycling community.


Known as ‘The Yorkshire Housewife’ Beryl Burton dominated cycling in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s despite having a heart condition which meant she was advised not to participate in strenuous activities.  Proving that she could do anything she put her mind to, Beryl went on to become the greatest woman on two wheels: five times world-pursuit champion, thirteen times national champion, twice road-racing world champion, twelve times national champion, British record holder, world record holder, MBE, OBE. When actress Maxine Peake read her biography she questioned why no one had ever written a play about her, and so she wrote it herself.


Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s production of Beryl runs from Saturday 7 – Saturday 21 May at the Coliseum and then tours to Theatre by the Lake, Keswick (24 – 28 May) and The Dukes, Lancaster (7 – 11 June).

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