Railway Penny-farthing

This exceedingly old photograph shows a group of Russian Gendarmes in Moscow around 1890, the chap in the middle of the frame is sitting atop what is quite clearly a Penny-farthing designed for use on the railway lines. There is a counterweight on the shaft leading to the offset left wheel, I assume to keep him from falling off to his right, he also has a long handle in his right hand and I can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s for. Any ideas?

Published by Ben Branch -