Thanks Mick for sorting out the connection between Wales and Witcombs back in Tanners yard, Deptford. If they had a factory there in the mid-70s I wonder if that was the place taken over subsequently by Falcon who then went on to pick up the orders for States. There couldn't have been many frame - building factories down there among the redundant coal-mines, slag heaps and closed-down steel rolling mills.
In the early 80s and up until nearly the end of that decade I used to go across to France to watch the Paris-Roubaix. In those early days I recall crossing the Thames, trundling along the OLd Kent road, passing quite a few bike shops -was Youngs of Lewisham down that way - and then ending up at Witcombs. there used to be a fish and chip shop across the road and my mates and I would buy our "tea" there and go into Witcombs to talk-the -talk and eat our fish and chips.
It would be around 1982/3 when I met the same trainee Afro-Caribbean frame builder that you mention He had just come back to work from the local Technical College where he was studying for a City and Guilds qualification in brazing and welding. Ernie told me that he liked all his builders - and I think he said he had five or six - to be properly trained. I remember that at that time they still had the blacksmith's hearth at the back of the workshop. He claimed that he had them properly trained and then they moved on elsewhere, or set up their own workshops. I recall Jack Briggs of Ellis-Briggs bikes making the same complaint, but there agin it's in the nature of Yorkshire men to complain.
All this is 20 years ago but I think he had a small cabinet of drawers near the counter where he kept his "foreigners" - thses being quite an impressive selection of transfers for other lightweight brands of frames. Around that time I was renovating a very attractive frame, of a brand that was very popular up in \Yorkshire - an E.A.Boult.
As ernie fingered through the drawers I enquired whether he might just have any transfers for the "Boult" Amazingly he came up with a full set, explaining that his company had bought the rights to the name some years earlier.
I think I saw my first Boult in Jack Baguley's second-hand emporium in Stoke Newington, after I had visited Paris' shop. Do you know naything about E.A,Boult frames? Was he a London builder perhaps?
Norris Lockley... thinking "..those were the days " .. Settle UK