Hines of Finchley
Posted: Tuesday 02nd June 2020
My father’s shop was established around 1950 and was known as Hines & Green of Finchley. My father, Mark Hines, had a partner Wally Green who was a motor-cycle speedway rider as well as a well-known frame builder. Some years later, around 1959/60, Wally left to go and work for Samuelson film service and also carry on building frames for other well-known manufacturers. My father continued under the name of Hines of Finchley and carried on with his own hand-built frames until 1964. By this time we had got involved together in karting and it was a mere formality to switch production to produce racing go-kart frames.
That was indeed the birth of Zip Karts in 1964 at 17 Hendon Lane, Finchley N3. Zip karts since then have brought the world of motor sport a host of heroes, the latest being Lewis Hamilton. Lewis was with my Zip Young Guns team from the day I met him at his first ever race at 8 years old. For the next 7 years he raced with the team and then with McLaren.
I hope one day to get hold of one of the lightweight frames built by my father.
Below is an extract on Hines of Finchley from a local paper 1956:
Industry in Finchley No. 44
About one in three of the lightweight club and racing cycles seen on the streets of London had their special slender tubed frames made in Finchley. That is because the cycle frame firm of Mark W Hines at 17 Hendon Lane, in the past eight or nine years has reached a firmly established position as one of the ‘Top Three’ of the lightweight cycle specialists.
Mark Hines, a Finchley man, is the proprietor of a cycle shop. But he is also the business partner of Wally Green, a very well known West Ham motor-cycle speedway rider who, with skilled frame maker, Harold Peters and a small team of craftsmen turns out about 1000 lightweight cycle frames a year at the firm’s Finchley premises. But about 950 of these reach the road under the names of several well-known cycle traders. In the early days the team made frames only for Mark Hines’ shop but the quality and unique features of the Finchley product soon took the eye of others in the trade so Mark Hines and Wally Green supply them with their needs.
The frame making partners worked alone until Harold Peters came along, bringing the experience and ideas he had formed in the big cycle firms. Then, the team made the special machines which were in demand when the back street ‘speedway’ riders, the “Skid Kids” took up speedway racing on bombed sites using adapted bicycles.
This craze died out but the Hines/Green partnership continued and they turned their attention to the serious racing and club cycling world. Wally Green, who captained England’s Speedway “Test” Team in 1954, knew a lot about the stresses and strains of frames in his line, while Harold Peters brought in the bicycle knowledge. Mark Hines’ business experience completed the pattern, and Wally Green told the Finchley Press last week:
“We are strong in all departments.”
He instanced competition cyclists riding Hines-built frames in many championship races, in the National Championships, four were taking part in Senior events, and three among the Juniors. Two machines using Hines frames were in the Tour of Britain.
A young Dutch employee of the firm, Loudwik Beaumester, riding in the Junior Championships, brought more frame making ideas from the Continent, where cycle racing is a serious sponsored sport. In Britain it is very much a “part-time” amateur game.
Keen on bikes.
All the members of the small but important firm are “keen on bikes”. It is their keenness which has lead to the firm introducing designs of their own. They have on the road a prototype machine of novel design, intending it among other things to make it faster uphill and eliminate speed wobbles downhill. Both Mark Hines and Wally Green hold high hopes for the new frame. It also follows their first principles of supplying the best quality frames at a price which places it within the reach of many keen young cyclists.
The vast mass production frames of the Midlands hold no fears for the partners. All Hines frames are “tailored” to individual riders’ specification, something which Birmingham cannot match, and the Finchley frames are made entirely by hand.
They use only Reynolds tubing for frames and forks, drawn to their own specification. Their order book, filled with names, not only of London traders but individual riders from all over the country, keeps the frame builders busy for 12 hours a day – and on Saturdays. In past years the difficulty of obtaining the best steel bore heavily on them, and has eased only in the last nine months.
At the frame making works, Wally Green, Harry Peters and two other employees were busy making about 30 frames a week with file, hacksaw and brazing gun. Harold Peters was adjusting the angles of a frame on a big sloping board and lining up the tubes by eye. Wally Green was busy with brazing gun welding the wheel holding lugs to a nearly finished frame. The other two were cutting tubing to size and shaping the ends.
Lots of tools
On the walls were pictures and posters of famous riders and racing events and everywhere were tools and more tools with the files heading the field because they play a leading part in frame building.
How the team copes is beyond comprehension because in addition to frame building it deals with a flood of repair and alteration work.
“We manage” said Wally Green.
So to the keen club and racing cyclist in of Finchley it is now revealed that the other man’s frame which he envies, with its imposing crest under a famous name may well have come from the same Finchley workshop as his own frame – with a different name.
On a rack in the Hines/Green workshop was hanging a tasteful selection of finished frames, enamelled in the brilliant colours that have transformed the cycle in late years. The colouring is done elsewhere, some in Finchley.
Once again in our interview with Mark Hines and Wally Green, we heard the cry for more space for expansion and elbow room. They are on the lookout for larger premises like many other lusty young firms in Finchley. But meanwhile the partners view the future with the same optimism which has helped them to build their firm in the post-war years. They have unlimited confidence in their products, knowing that their frames can hold their own against any others.
Boldly they say that the Finchley product is better than the Continental counterpart and Mark Hines and Wally Green are sure they are helping to put British cycling in the forefront – at a price homegrown riders can afford.