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  • The Major Nichols bicycle
    built with Nervex Pro lugs By the mid sixties the plainer Prugnat lugs were in use following a general trend in fashion in the cycle world Stock frames in the early years used the relatively expensive 531 tubing only for the three main tubes of the frame with the seat and chain stay being cheaper unclassified Reynolds plain gauge tubing It appears that early frames may have been built with various styles to the top of the seat stays such as chamfered fluted or sloping and certainly the earliest known frames 1954 5 have these simple patterns of seat stay top In particular in the early days the cheaper stock built frames had simple rounded top seat stays Many later Major Nichols frames apart from the lugless frames were more uniformly built with a feature that almost became a Major Nichols trade mark on the later 1970 to 1980 s bikes This was the wrap over seat stay tops with a thin strap over the top tube that joined the two stays The feature was not unique to Major Nichols but his tops stand out for the elegance The top of the stays each had a curved panel Sometimes these were made as a pair with an integral strap or sometimes the tops had the strap brazed into position between the two stays There was said to be a choice of the size of the flat oval panel formed at the top of the stays so that short medium or long oval panels could be built into the wrap over Later on the lighter and more expensive double butted Reynolds 531DB was used for all fully custom frames including the racing frames with a few frames made from 531 Special later known as 531c tubing and later again in the very special Reynolds 753 tubing More expensive racing frames had two additional small triangular transfers Record Road Sprint which were fixed on the front forks No special names were ever formally given by Major to specific styles of his bikes but Roger Allen remembers that he and his club mates in West Bromwich CTC always referred to their custom and specially lightweight Major Nichols as Records They could of course be recognised by having the Record Road Sprint transfers on the front forks Currently only about 60 bikes are known to survive with some details of a further 10 or so remembered though there would have been very many more built News of more of them is avidly awaited Major s frames carry the frame number on the bottom bracket There is a prefix MN followed by or below which was a four or five digit production number consisting of the year as the first two digits then that year s bike production number in annual sequence Usually the forks carried only the current year s production number A brace of Nichols one road one track David Clement has told us that he worked for Major Nichols from 1958 to

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/majornichols.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Mal Rees
    strong advocate of the B L R C VCC member Bill Foster also worked for Mal Rees in the late 40 s and remembers his job included travelling to Hobbs of Barbican by train collecting finished frames and on his return to the shop fixing the Mal Rees transfers The shop also sold Hobbs frames and machines In 1951 Ken Lingard joined the business as manager During this period frames were being built inside the shop by Bill Perkins known as Perky Bill the main frame builder who was assisted by Ron Rowlands I have no knowledge of any catalogues or model types produced at this time and only know of two machines from the years 1949 to 1953 It was eventually decided on safety grounds that frame building should be discountinued at the shop as the working area was very restricted and the shed at the rear of the shop already being used for storage purposes In 1954 Ken Lingard negotiated contracts with Bill Hurlow who he had known for some years and who was already doing frame repairs for the business along with Wally Green Bill Hurlow was to build Rameles using one one of his own lug cutout designs Amersham and Chalfont models while Wally Green is to produce the competively priced Chiltern model to combat Claud Butler and other cycle dealer s cheaper models The Chiltern was fitted with all British equipment to keep the price as low as possible A catalogue was produced using Johnny Helm s cartoons for which he received a Rameles frame as payment From this time on all catalogues follow the same format and the cartoons were also used for advertising in cycle magazines Ken Lingard left Mal Rees in 1964 the shop still being situated at 83 Coldharbour Lane Hayes

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/MalRees.html (2016-02-09)
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  • maysh-builders
    who has a memorial garden at Girtford Bridge Frederick died in 1933 Tom had the premises until 1975 By then he had developed Parkinson s and could no longer use his hands for the precise movements he needed as an engineer After the war when money was tight Dad opened his own utility company to help in the sale of the bikes He named the firm after his three children Od le ba The company was dissolved in 1966 My brother and my son are both keen cyclists In the late 1940 s Tom used to hold competitions in the shop window with bikes on rollers as his father had done pre war see image below Phil Easton from California adds Thank you for dragging Tom Maysh and his shop back out of the mists of time for me This was my local bike shop and I first went there when I joined the North London CTC at age 11 in 1947 my Mother had bought me a used Excel in the hopes I would pass the dreaded 11 exam I didn t but got to keep the bike I remember going over there to watch the roller racers after one or two of the club meetings I don t remember as many people as in the 1949 picture but of course it was in the evening when I went The score boards etc are as I remember them Wouldn t want to be an 11 or 12 year old cycling along Bowes Road these days I think I was living on a different planet in those days Incidentally this was also Pat Hanlon s address at the time there was another bike shop a couple of blocks away I think it was on the corner of the road leading up to Bounds Green and I think it was called Osborne Oscrofts says Odette who passed it on her way to school They were agents for Sun Cycles so that agency must have moved from Tom as I see an advertisement for Sun Cycles in the prewar picture Here you can see a crowd of excited cyclists watching roller racing which was a popular sport at this time 1949 The dial connected to the rollers and showing the progress of the competitors can be seen on the left If you look closely inside the shop you will see an advertisement for the film A Boy a Girl and a Bike which starred Honor Blackman and Diana Dors When the film was shown at Palmers Green I think the Gaumont Diana Dors came to the cinema and Dad met her on the stage to promote the film Diana was 18 at the time I can remember the excitement although I was very young at the time This is an image of the shop taken in 1938 and again a crowd watches roller racing in the window Being pre war Tom s father was advertising both cycles and motors with Morris cars

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/maysh-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Mercian Cycles
    1951 Featured therein are the Vigorelli Pursuit Miss Mercian and Massed Start frames all constructed with Oscar Egg lugs a common brand of fitting on early Mercians Models listed without photos include the Standard Track frame Oscar Egg lugs the lugless Whitemeadows Road Racing frame and the lugless Short Distance Road Track frame The separate price card adds the King of Mercia and in a handwritten addition Vigorelli Scroll Lugs left at a pound dearer than the Vigorelli Pursuit In light of Hilary Stone s Cycling Plus article wherein he describes the early 1950s Super Vigorelli with lugs of a similar design to the Vincitore s it would seem that the scroll lug model is likely to be the first appearance of the Mercian s signature motif in hand cut lugs seen since the mid 1960s in the Vincitore racing and touring models In addition to Oscar Egg lugs the 1951 brochure mentions use of Agrati ends and brazed on fittings for Simplex or Benelux gears It will be for others to relate the history of racing men and women on Mercian cycles It should be noted that throughout the excellent Bicycling book transportation recreation sport John and Vera van der Reis Krausz NY Dial Press 1982 one sees a number of Mercians photographed on tour and in rough stuff cyclocross and hill climbs On November 11 1954 when Cycling featured Ray Booty as its Man of the Year he was shown at speed on a Mercian bike Models of long standing in the frame brochures include Vigorelli almost always a fixed wheel track or time trial frame although Dave Keeler s 1954 Mercians appear to be geared Vigorellis still available in 2006 but since the 1960s not with fancy lugs Miss Mercian twin lateral mixte configuration still available in 2006 Welded frames still available in 2006 as the Pro Lugless King of Mercia usually the top of the line among Mercian frames made with commercially available lugs Superlight introduced in the late 1950s it used Mercian s own hand cut lugs and shot in stays in 2005 it disappeared from the online catalog Campionissimo Olympic Classic Audax slightly less expensive frames than the King of Mercia sometimes with simpler lugs often available only in a fixed frame specification introduced by the late 1950s Vincitore according to Hilary Stone s research this frame with fancy lugs in the motif of the 1950s Vigorelli but with some differences in the lug profiles was revived under Bill Betton s ownership circa 1965 Mercian s signature lug pattern Hilary Stone s article in Cycling Plus and Mercian s own potted history are the best overviews Many Americans will be familiar with the chapter on Mercian in The Custom Bicycle by Michael Kolin and Denise De la Rosa Emmaus PA 1979 which provides a glimpse of the firm under Bill Betton s direction in a time of booming production The author would be grateful to hear from readers of this page who have other

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/mercian.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Merlin Brothers frame builders
    Clerkenwell His birth was followed a year later by that of his brother Ernest Alfred Merlini born at 45 Seckforde Street as the couple had moved They moved again to Chadwell Street as the boys grew and the business prospered by 1891 Felix and Ella could afford to employ a servant girl Rose Turner from Peckham A further move to Woodbridge Street Clerkenwell saw Augustus Gus aged 15 in his first job as a clerk in the County Council offices Felix had now applied for and been granted British citizenship Six years later in 1907 Grandpa Paolo died aged 72 his family by now well established and soon to drop the i from the end of their surname In the 1911 census Felix now called himself Frank Merlin with Gus still at his side as a wood carver Ernest however had branched out and had become an electrical engineer Furthermore he was now a keen and fairly successful cyclist having joined the Polytechnic CC in 1905 The Olympics in 1912 were held in Stockholm and the road cycling event was a long by today s standards individual time trial of 196 miles just over 315 kms The British sent no less than twenty six riders forming individual teams from England Scotland and Ireland there were only 123 in the entire event representing sixteen countries Ernest had been selected and finished in the middle of the field at 59th place with a time of 12 hours 16 minutes and 8 6 seconds The winner was a South African Rudolph Lewis but the star from the English point of view was one Frederick Henry Grubb winner not only of the individual silver medal but leader of the team of four Englishmen who also won silver for the team time trial first four

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/merlin-townsend-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Merlin Cycles (E.A. and A.L. Merlin)
    After finishing third in the Olympic selection trial Ernie was a member of the 1912 British Olympic team in Sweden he also won the Anfield 100 amongst other successes on the road and track He was the practical man and wielded the torch building Merlin frames in a small workshop behind the shop in Goswell Road on the edge of the city Frames were built in house but like many small builders they had no facilities for chroming or enamelling so this was done by contract outside Gus was the businessman and ran the shop and retail side of things Below An example of decorative pre war Merlin lugs Merlin imported continental racing tyres tubs which they sold to both retail customers and wholesale to the trade Their letterhead used on correspondence receipts etc until at least the late forties was Merlin Tyre Co This may have been the original company title Among the tyre related items they sold were separate treads for gluing onto slick racing tubs They continued building right through the Second World War the brothers would have been well into their fifties and too old to be called up for military service There were severe war time shortages of materials and a frame ordered in 1942 and delivered in 1943 was constructed of Reynolds HM tubing as 531 was not available Left Merlin advert from the Bob Jackson address in Leeds Sporting Cyclist April 1960 The business s glory years were the 20 s and 30 s By the Fifties trade was running down as the brothers headed for retirement They both had sons who unfortunately were not interested in taking over so when the lease on the shop ran out the business closed and the name was sold The rights were initially bought by Adam

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/merlin-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • A F Mills
    from the image of a rider in crash helmet used by Urago Apparently Mills got together with other bike shops including Rory O Brien to engage a frame builder which was believed to be Jim Collier who had previously worked at Gillott I think that Mills had strong links with the old established Woolwich CC A note made by an E Bay seller stated that the firm was managed by Sid Batham in the 1950s and 60s Adverts in editions of the 1965 Sporting Cyclist show them as agents for both Claud Butler and Falcon cycles but do not appear in similar manufacturers sales campaigns a year later The premises are now occupied by the Worth Bakery I am sure there are those who know much more about this bike shop and hopefully will contact the website accordingly The first response is from Bob Evans January 2014 I happened on your website today and out of curiosity clicked on the above bike shop builder My interest stems from the fact that I worked at Mills as a Saturday Boy during the early 1960s The shop was owned by Sid Batham and the frames of which I had one were built

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/mills-clarke-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • H R Morris - master framebuilder
    from Walthamstow at the weekends He explains that they would ride to digs on the Saturday afternoon race very early on the Sunday morning and then have a club ride which would eventually take them home for Sunday evening Even when riding a 12 hour race they would still ride home afterwards probably covering about 270 miles in the day Right H R Morris supplied lug blanks to a customer who wished to cut the emblems into them He was unable to do it to his satisfaction so H R M finished the lugs and built them into a frame When HRM was 17 years old 1929 he moved on to work for C Bertrand and Co in Finchley North London where he enjoyed being involved in the production of much better finished machines This was another man and wife business HRM cycled to and from work every day whatever the weather and found it a pleasant and friendly place to work Bryan Clarke remembers HRM telling him that George Dean was the frame builder at Bertrands In 1937 HRM was planning to get married and needed more cash so he moved to Bates Bros at Plaistow in East London Here he became very friendly with George Dean George and his wife Ivy would become godparents to HRM s daughter they are both now passed on His work and expertise was appreciated here at Bates and he soon became the general foreman insisting on high standards of building until 1938 when all or most of the technical staff left rather than signing up for the difficult working agreements demanded by E G Bates HRM said that a Mr Grimstead assembled the frames fitting the tubes fluxing ready for brazing One of the brazers was Teddy Bax There were 2 filers 2 lug cutters 1 checker 1 wheel builder and 2 assemblers Bob Tregonning from the office took over the frame building after the walk out but didn t know much about the technical side HRM remembers seeing Bates frames literally fall apart after the proper tradesmen left The frames were poorly finished and out of track The Bates brothers split the partnership after the war There was a shop for parts next to the works but it was only open on Saturdays This was run by Stan Butler He never went back to Bates after the troubles He left the cycle trade and went to work as an engineer where he worked on parts being made for HMS Illustrious The wages were poor here and he saw an advert for a fitter wanted to work building motors at Carrimore Six Wheelers Ltd Great North Road Finchley London N12 He was asked if he could read blueprints and he explained that not only could he read them but he could if needed produce them HRM had been studying Workshop Engineering Practice at the Polytechnic in the evenings as he had always been keen on maths and drawing office work He was

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/hrm-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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