Re:[CR]Question about remaining British frame shops...

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Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 22:29:03 EST
Subject: Re:[CR]Question about remaining British frame shops...

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Message: 6

We've just closed shop for the day and are sitting here talking after work, thinking how much fun it would be to visit the British frame makers and see how they do it, jigs, torch or hearth, whether or not they do their own paint, etc... Then we were thinking, who is left... with actually real, active workshops? So there should be Bob Jackson, Woodrup, Charles Roberts, Mercian, Ellis Briggs (?), Ron Cooper, Arthur Caygill (?), Trevor Jarvis, Alex Moulton, Dave Yates, Hetchins, Pashley(?), Dawes (?)

Dale Brown Greensboro, North Carolina >>


FW Reynolds and Condor are subcontracted out somewhere in London (Hilary Stone Knows) I am told. Sadly I hear Witcomb closed shop but Barrie Witcomb may still be making a few.

Some notes on Pashley and Moulton and their contrast. I suspect Pashley is in some respects the most traditional and in some ways uses the crudest and most charming construction techniques on their traditonal bicycles built in the traditional way. In their factory they take raw steel off the racks and press and hammer it into D shape fork blades, big men with big arms and 75 year old tooling. Presses that look like they came off the deck of a Battle Ship that may have been originally operated by horse's sit next to auction bought automatic brazing machines oiled and wrapped in plastic never to be used in their facility. An engineer told me they have a 1930's bicycle factory located inside a 1960s building. Having said this they have a very sophisticated modern powder paint facility and quite a bit of refinements in their Moulton construction areas as the tools and techniques to assemble these complex machines absolutely require it. I am told they are the largest bicycle builder in Britain though small by most standards and sadly by default.

About 70 miles south at Alex Moulton's Developments, a 16th century home known as "The Hall" sports a carriage house and surrounding out buildings that house certainly one of the most unique bicycle facilities anywhere on Earth. Very complex jigs share space with equally complex testing equipment and extremely well equipped machining apparatus. Many items in use or tucked away cannot be described as something that has any obvious function being purpose built to test the curious mind if nothing else. Testing, prototypes, and research seem to occupy all the workers and engineers time and production (and delivery) seems to take a back seat to developing the next best thing like there is anything even approaching what they offer now. A small private museum is on the grounds filled with dozens of prototypes going back to the 1950's. A visitor will not be able to miss the mildly eccentric 84 year old Alex Moulton's high performance and luxury cars and his apparent fetish for Kayaks that he uses daily on the canal and river adjoining his property. They is a public Museum Moulton being constructed in the old Avon Rubber Factory that Alex owns for the future that will feature his many bicycle, automotive and engineering achievements. In town one pub has a Moulton room with a fully chrome Safari Expedition Moulton proudly displayed.

Neither of these places offer public or private tours, photos inside or chats with the employees but it might be arranged for the right group. Building bicycles is fascinating stuff.

Yours in Cycling,

Gilbert Anderson

North Road Bicycle Company

519 W. North St.

Raleigh, NC 27603


Toll Free Ph: 800-321-5511 Local Ph: 919-828-8999