In the late 1980s, the first true double treadle wheels made their appearance in New Zealand, created by John Arlott. He initially made a wheel for a friend who had knee and hip problems and had been medically advised to have gentle exercise with both legs. This was the very beginning of the popular Majacraft wheels.
The early models did not fold. Among these were the Polly (the picture at right is from an advertisement in The Web in June 1993) which had two treadles working as one, with only one footman. The Pollyanna was a true double treadle. These have not been made for quite a few years. The first Suzies were not folding either. Majacraft wheels went through a number of changes over the 10 years or so that John Arlott and his son Tim owned the company.
Owen and Glynis Poad bought the business in 1996 in partnership with the McTavishes, and the Poad family puchased all shares in 2002. The photograph at left shows Owen and Glynis, with their sons Andy (left) and Rob (right) who both also work at Majacraft. The Rose was introduced in 1998, the Millie in 2000, and the Gem in 2002. These wheels were all designed by Owen Poad.
The only horizontal Majacraft, the Saxonie, was discontinued about 2005 and the Tiny Tim about 2000.
Majacraft are now particularly noted for their folding double-treadle wheels made of rimu. They are still undergoing constant development and improvement, and the current models can be seen on the Majacraft website.
I am grateful to Glynis Poad of Majacraft for providing most of this information, as well as the family photograph.
Two original leaflets (one dating from the1980s and the other from the early 1990s) of early Majacraft wheels made by John Arlott can be downloaded here.