Posted: Thursday 28th May 2020
Jack Baguley was born in Stepney in 1907 the son of a book repairer. The family moved to Hackney where Jack was to reside for the rest of his life. He was a member of the Comet Cycle Club and opened a shop at 48 Crossway, Stoke Newington around 1948 selling English and Continental cycle components and frames.
Neil Palmer, also in the Comet CC, was there when he first opened. With no counter to separate the stock from the customers, in austerity Britain some items proved too tempting for youngsters disappeared when Jack’s back was turned. A shop counter the full width of the shop was soon installed as well as a long bench seat behind the photo strewn panelling at the front of the shop to accommodate the many club cyclists who congregated there on Saturdays. The earliest advertisement I can find is for March 23rd 1950 in ‘Cycling’ stating.
Jack was to advertise regularly in ‘The Bicycle’ and ‘Cycling’ for several decades so that ‘callers only’ turned into a successful mail order business with stock lists eventually being printed showing the latest ‘gen’ equipment.
From a personal point of view my in-laws owned the pet shop just round the corner in Boleyn Road that was purchased a few years earlier than Jack’s shop. They always referred to him as ‘Jack Bagley’, probably the only ones to do so! My wife and her sister remember the smell of leather from the many boxes of cycling shoes mixed with that of rubber from the tyres behind the counter where Jack was often building or truing wheels.
These premises and the surrounding streets were built in the mid 19th century and Jack’s shop had old wooden shutters up at the windows held in place by a locked metal bar(s). I believe these were never opened as there were probably no glass windows behind them, so that the only natural light came from the open shop door.
For many years the local council had had their eye on this area for demolition and redevelopment and the axe finally came down in 1973, the year that Jack died.
Some regulars to Jack’s shop are surprised that he had bike frames made under his own name. I had seen two in 25 years, both very similar with Nervex Pro lugs. One was too small for me and one restored without head/seat decals. However, another such frame in original condition came to light about three years ago unbeknown to me, rescued it seems from a skip in the West Country. The owner very kindly let me purchase it from him recently. I think it was made in the early 1960s and has now been built up to reflect this. The down tube logo, bands and initials of the original owner’s cycle club ‘HHCC ‘are the work of a sign writer (see images below). I guess the initials refer to the Harold Hill Cycle Club.
Bernard Howard ex `Avenue CRC` responds very quickly:
Another blast from the past. Jack’s was a regular trip in 1951 for us hard up cyclists from Romford. As you said the shop was ‘very basic’, not a lot of stock, from memory a good selection of second-hand goodies mainly in the back room part of the shop, I think the front part was bare. A good meeting place for the boys, some coming from far and wide, I remember meeting there some of the boys from the ‘Vitesse’ of Chelmsford. I am certain that on one visit there I rode there on one bike, exchanged frames with Jack, reassembled it outside and rode home on the ‘new’ one possibly the CNC that I once had. Don’t remember Jack having his own frames at the time, that must have come later. Keep up the good work.