H R Morris - 1949
Posted: Thursday 13th August 2020
Profile of a fine cycle No 6
Machine:- H.R. Morris 23½” road/path frame No. H1 was built by “Dick” Morris. This was built long before he had his own cycle shop in the late 1950’s. It was built whilst he was working as the chief inspector in the inspection department of Carrimore Six Wheelers Ltd of Great North Road, Finchley London N12.
Owned by :- Alexander von Tutschek
How long owned:- since 1996
How was it acquired:- Upon visiting what was then Harlow Cycle Museum I was dazzled by a frame that they had in their display, one that I’d never heard of before, an H.R.Morris. On this frame the initials HRM were cut into the lugwork in many places. Over a period of time I became infatuated with it, particularly as it was my size. I desperately wanted to liberate this 25″ frame for myself. Although I was eventually to own this machine too it was whilst on the quest to do this that I was able to gain an introduction to the elderly Mr Morris, living now in retirement. Mr Morris still had his own 23 ½” road/path machine that he had built for himself in 1949. Some months later I was given the opportunity of buying this directly from “Dick” Morris. Even then I realised that this was a once in a lifetime offer.
The features that make it special:-
If you accept that the London fashion for fancy lugwork which started before World War Two peaked in the late 40’s /early 1950’s then this unique cycle is at the very pinacle of this type of workmanship. There are ten cut-outs in each head-lug and sixteen cut-outs in the bottom-bracket. Nothing else from the period comes close to this. The workmanship is flawless: go around this frame with a magnifying glass, it really is quite exceptional. One point to remember is that when this frame was new it was at the forefront of style, unlike later fancy lugged frames from the 1960’s onwards which are really, in this writer’s opinion, retro-frames. Of note on the frame are the modified alloy head-clip (left) and Constrictor (see the snake?) alloy lamp-bracket. Note also the splendid matching Morris-made sloping stem which has been on this machine since new. What can I say about the head badge ?
The frame is built up with the following period equipment of note:-
Harden Flyweight hubs – these are double-fixed and have cup and cone bearings. I think this type of Harden hub is probably the most attractive to be seen up to this period. The earlier Flyweight hubs have a single curvature in the centre but this particular version has the double curvature very much like the later Campag Record alloy hub. These are matched to San Giorgio sprint (sew-up) racing rims.
Chainset is a Stronglight 49D, slightly modified. Note the extra chamfering – the edges have been filed to make the cranks lighter and daintier. Notice also the chainring with ‘MORRIS’ cut into it. Dick Morris cut this himself and added this to the machine later. Pedals are alloy Holdsworth ‘Allez’ matched to Strata alloy toe clips that were made in Oldham Lancashire. The brake mechanism, made by the same company, is matched to a Balilla alloy brake lever.
The saddle is a circa 1950 Brooks B37. This is the lightweight version of the Brooks B17 Champion Narrow band and has stainless steel rails, an alloy cantle plate and seat-post clip. Note the crisp condition of this saddle.
It should be noted that this machine was owned by Dick Morris from 1949-1996, some 47 years, and that I am only its second owner. Dare I make the claim that this is the ultimate fancy lugged frame made during the classic era. Does anyone know of any other contender that can stand very fine scrutiny? Please share it with us if you do.