Roller Derby - The Roll-Away Skate Company

Roller Derby - The Roll-Away Skate Company - Litchfield Illinois
Roller Derby - The Roll-Away Skate Company - Litchfield Illinois

The credit for being the first recorded man in history to make a pair of roller skates belongs to Joseph Merlin, born in Huys, Belgium, September 17, 1735. He was a musical instrument maker by trade; however, he made his first pair of roller skates in 1760.

The first pair of roller skates to carry a patent was designed by Mr. M. Petitbled, Paris, France, November 12, 1819. The patent described the skates as “a sole made of wood, fitted with two, three or four, copper, wooden or ivory rollers arranged in a straight line.” This of course made it impossible for the skate to move on a curved line.

Many changes have been made through the years, thus bringing us up to the present.

Roll-Away Skate Company will be twenty-one years old this year. It was just an idea at first, without plans for a big future, and started by two men who were machinists by trade but enjoyed the sport of indoor roller skating. Their idea was to build something different from the type of skate then on the market, so they set up a small machine shop in the basement of one of their homes.

Very little progress or improvement had been made, at this time, as there was very little competition in the manufacture of skates.

About this time a young roller skating brother and sister team, known as Jimmie and Joan Lindstone from England, visited the United States primarily to further the interest of roller skaters between the two countries. They were very fine skaters and were eager to talk to anyone interested in the sport of roller skating. Their skates, being foreign-made, were of great interest to the men just starting to build a new model, therefore a new idea was formed and the first precision skate to be manufactured in the United States was built by Roll-Away Skate Company.

The original starters of the Company soon lost interest and sold their small amount of equipment to new persons who carried on with a small expansion program. The demand for better skates was started; therefore from time to time, the company expanded to supply the new demand.

A few years later Roller Derby joined Roll-Away and became the sales organization taking all the merchandise manufactured by Roll-Away.

The move to Litchfield in March, 1950, was their latest expansion program. Present executive officers of the organization are:

Earl Friedlander, President, Chicago.

V. P. Swanson, Vice-President, Litchfield.

N. O. Swanson, Treasurer, Litchfield.

Article from: Litchfield Centennial Book

Historic photos provided by: Roller Derby

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society