Posted: Thursday 04th June 2020
Saxby’s were a small bike shop in the Old Kent Road in South London. A friend of mine (Griff – see below) who runs a bike shop in Greenwich had Saxby’s build him a road /track frame in the 1960s which he still owns and is in original condition. I subsequently discovered that they were agents for Witcomb’s, the lightweight frame builders in Deptford, and therefore it is quite likely that they were responsible for building his frame and perhaps carrying out renovations on the frames you now own. Witcomb’s are one of the few old established bike shops in London to remain open. Saxby’s are long gone.
The information given on Saxby’s as a cycle shop although somewhat scant prompted fresh memories of my dealings with Ron, as a postscript to my last post I forgot to mention that prior to moving over to Germany in 1967 I sold the Saxby’s to a very useful “tester” Ken Brooker of the Luton Wheelers
and then consigned it to happy memories and just a few time trial photo’s (see left doing a 1-hour 2-minute ride on the lumpy Q14 at Dartford pushing an 81 fixed in 1966).
Now fast forward to around 35 years later where I saw an advert in the Classified section in the “News & Views” for a Saxby’s track frame for sale at £50.00 posted by Chris Hewitt (who I now know as the Hodge Marque Specialist) it was my size so, with renewed memories of my old 1960’s steed I went over to his gaff at St. Albans for a “butchers” thinking if it was in ok condition I’ll buy it and add it to my small collection of London-built lightweights.
You never can guess the rush I had when he took me out back to his workshop and there looking very forlorn was my old and very original Saxby’s frame under a cover with its now faded yellow paint looking in all the world like a lost puppy at The Battersea Dogs Home. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I realised I was about to be reunited with my old trusty Saxby’s and if Chris had had the shrewdness to say it was now £500.00 I would have still gladly stumped up the cash, apparently it turned out that Chris was a good mate of Ken Brooker who sadly was now terminally ill in a hospice and Chris had been selling a few cycling bits and bobs of Ken’s to help a tight financial situation.
He didn’t know anything about the frame’s make or its provenance so when he next visited Ken a few days later and told him about the transaction and the gobsmacked buyer Ken confirmed everything that Chris had heard from me and asked him to pass on his good wishes that the frame had now gone back to it’s original owner in ‘Sarf London. Needless to say it’s now restored with all the correct period components that I had first built it up with and it still rides a treat!
I have a little information on Saxby’s in that they were a small one man shop that sold bikes/mopeds and car spares at the New Cross end of The Old Kent Road just a stone’s throw over the road from the larger Hills Cycle shop. The shop was patronised by a few of the local clubs and Saxby frames were fairly well known then back in SE London. I used to go by the shop every day on my way to school in Walworth back in the late 50’s early 60’s.
What initially caught my eye were a pair of honey coloured wooden grass track rims he had in the window for ages so after leaving school and getting a job up by St. Pauls I decided to call in and try to purchase the rims as I commuted home on my hack bike. But no joy, they were for display only. Not to be put off and with my first month’s wage burning a hole in my pocket I got chatting to the owner/manager Ron Cheesewright and left him a £10 deposit after getting measured for a road/track time trial iron. My first ever frame built just for me!
But no joy, they were for display only. Not to be put off and with my first month’s wage burning a hole in my pocket I got chatting to the owner/manager Ron Cheesewright and left him a £10 deposit after getting measured for a road/track time trial iron. My first ever frame built just for me!
We agreed that I would collect the finished bike in bits and that I would do the build up at home in order to save paying Purchase Tax. Also, I could pay interest free the balance of £65-2s-6d over the next 12 months (like many others he wasn’t keen on keeping his accounts straight with the taxman). At that stage I thought Ron did the lot – design/build and paint – but it was a good few years later that I found that he like so many other small independents had his frame orders jobbed out (Witcombs/Holdsworth and even Gillots were his suppliers). In this case my frame was built at Witcombs but Ron did do the paintwork on his frames as he took me out the back three weeks later to a small workshop area where my newly built frame was awaiting its first coat of yellow enamel. Pulses racing, I couldn’t wait for the finished article and agreed with Ron that I would collect the frame and Campag. bits in one week’s time from then.
He carried on trading up until the mid to late 70’s I believe but by the time the business closed down he had been dealing only in car spares as the bike industry was in the doldrums. I still have my original bike (see images above) on display at my shop.