Posted: Saturday 06th June 2020
Chas Stevenson first came to my attention In 2012 when Steve Griffiths requested information about him through the pages of the VCC’s News & Views after he acquired an attractive bicycle frame by this maker. In the months that followed two further frames surfaced, one in the hands of Robin Walker with an attractive head badge and Ekla lugs, the other by Roger Stevens that had once belonged to a member of the Catford Cycle Club; the latter having ‘C S’ as raised letters in the head lugs (centre image below). I agreed to purchase this from Roger and began to do a little research through the Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre. Indeed they supplied me with the majority of information about this maker.
Chas Stevenson first appears as a cycle agent in London Trade Directories in 1940 with an address at 37 Loampit Vale Lewisham, although the telephone directory shows him at this address in 1939 but it is clear to me that he was a frame builder before this date. There was already a cycle shop at this address under the name of Chas. Ryan that had been in existence since 1929.
The centre of Lewisham had been severely damaged by a rocket attack in 1944 which prevented the start of Britain’s first stage race and it was consequently moved to Farnborough.
Chas Stevenson is recorded as moving to 233 Lewisham High Street in 1945 some distance away from the devastation where he first describes himself as a cycle maker in trade directories. In 1947 he moves to larger premises at 239-241 Lewisham High Street as Chas. Stevenson & Son, Cycle Makers but this is shown as the address as early as 1945 in the BLRC handbook for that year.
By 1949 there was a further shop selling Sports Goods at 235 Lewisham High Street. The additional shop seems have gone by 1955 but they remained at the other address until 1957.
A reference to them in the London Gazette on line archive for 1 February 1957 (page 761) states that Andrew Charles Stevenson of Stevenson & Son had received an order under the bankruptcy Act and so the business must have closed down: another casualty of the cycle trade at this time. It is clear that they never really made their mark in this area of South East London against strong competition, perhaps initially from the likes of Claud Butler, Gillott etc. and latterly from Witcomb and Youngs who seemed to weather the down turn and were in the ascendency by the late 1950s.