Posted: Tuesday 02nd June 2020
We have a page on Vic Edwards (Classic Builders) under his trading name of Rondinella. but I feel we should also make mention of the frame building that he carried out for many of the top frame ‘builders’. It is obvious that Vic must have been highly respected as a builder by his peers as he built for so many.
Vic Edwards built his frames in a small workshop in Crow Lane, Romford, Essex. His own frames he built under the name of Rondinella, which is Italian for Swallow. Vic operated in this way in the seventies through to mid-to-late eighties until a stroke stopped him working.
All Vic’s own frames were enamelled by a local firm called Bromar at Gallows Corner, also in Romford. Prior to having his own business Vic worked for other famous frame builders: these included Hobbs of Barbican, where he was said to have built a considerable number of their Blue Riband frames, Alf Hetchins, E G Bates and for Monty Young at Condor. He was regarded as a highly skilled framebuilder. Below are some examples of his work on his Rondinella frames:
His name is also associated with Pat Hanlon, Alf Shorter (where he is said to have built a frame for Alf Engers – the number one short distance time triallist of the era), Rory O’Brien, and Ducketts. If all of these musings are true then Vic Edwards must have been the busiest and one of the most revered builders in England.
Geoff Nagle, a Vic Edwards admirer, spoke to Monty at Condor about the era when Vic built for them. Monty told him that he remembered Vic as working there from the late 60s to early 80s. He said that all of Vic’s frames had a V prefix to the frame number on both the bottom bracket and fork stem. He also said that he was one of the very best craftsmen he came across and his work was held in very high regard. Geoff thought he worked at Condor earlier, at the same time as Bill Hurlow perhaps. He was certainly making his own frames in the back of a church in Ilford in 1957.
Here are pictures from Bob Johnson of the beautiful one-off bike built by Vic Edwards for Roger St Pierre: he and Roger worked out the special features. The frame has ‘La Varesina’ on the down tube and a Bianchi transfer on the seat tube. Cable stops with guides for back brake, rear derailleur and bar end shifters, special rear brake hanger for Mafac Racers, pulley wheels each side of bottom bracket for bare cable runs.
Roger supplied the head badge and decals. Bob believes that La Varesina is the scene of one of Italy’s classic races, held since 1919, and that it was built by Vic at the Romford address when Roger was a member of the Zeus Racing club.
Roger also comissioned Vic Edwards to build him a bright green ‘Bianchi’ around 1959. This seems to suggest that Roger had some arrangement to ride Bianchi but had Edwards’ frames sprayed to look like his sponsor’s machines. This is known to have happened right through from pre-war to present day when not all machines ridden by professional riders are what they seem to be. This even happens today in the world of carbon frames as I learned when talking to someone from a company making very high specification frames.
Thanks to Bob Johnson, David Martin, Geoff Nagle