Vol. 2, Issue 48 – November / December 2013
Posted: Thursday 14th November 2013
Goodwood Revival Tour de France ride (Mark Stevens)
This event is the most authentic example of a 1960′ s Motor Racing meeting anywhere on Earth to my knowledge. 80% of the spectators are in period dress and no vehicles built after 1966 are allowed in the track area. The most exotic classic racing cars and motorcycles are given a good thrashing. This year a mixed group of Classic cyclists were invited to re-enact a “stage” of the Tour de France to celebrate the 100th year.
I travelled down from Inverness by train. I had a guide meet me at Kings Cross station for the ride across London to my friend’s house in Peckham. I was riding my 1955 Gillott Fleur de Lis. I was carrying all my clothing and spares in a haversack which weighed 20kg. My guide, named Dan, had responded to my request on the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed forum . He had Googled Gillott before he left to meet me and realising who I was suggested we go via the old shop in Southampton Way where we took some photos. On arrival at mine hosts Nigel and Nells’ in Peckham I noticed an ominous split developing in the nose of my blocked big rivet Brooks B17.
Thursday the 12th at Goodwood.
After the celebrity cricket match champagne was served in Goodwood House. Bentleys, Bugattis, Rolls, Ferraris and Aston Martins parked all around. Dave Moroney and friend rode across the cricket pitch on their tandem with wine bottles strapped all over it. Attractive young ladies carrying magnums of Veuve Clicquot got us more and more relaxed. Friendships were forged and new members for the VCC cultivated. The sun set over the highly polished paintwork, the fountains tinkled under the Cypress trees, and we were taken back to the camping area in a delightful vintage bus.
Friday the 13th at Goodwood.
A fine morning shattered at 7.30 by the dulcet tone of a 350cc BSA Gold Star scrambler being started and revved right outside my tent. He must have missed the champagne. He and others of his ilk were heading for the pre-65 scrambles track.
I donned my 1930’s herringbone Tweed 3-piece cycling suit and set off for the track. I left the Gillott in the replica French village square hoping that the “Paysan” would not lob a Boule into my spokes. After registration we were given meal vouchers to use in the “Freddie March Spirit of Aviation” marquee. To get there we walked past the paddock full of ERA’s, Maseratis, BRM, Lotus, Coopers, etc. all rasping their way through gallons of Motor Racing Spirit and Castrol “R” as they warmed up for practice. Then past the Boeing Stearman, Ryan ST-A, Beech Staggerwing and other airborne exotica. I forgot to mention the frequent air displays by Spitfires, Mustang, Hurricane and a brace of Kittyhawks.
The weather turned windy but still warm with spits of rain. Cyclists were turning up from all over. A magnificent 1911 Clement ridden by Graham Draper caught my eye. Some machines were not fully period. Mixtures of old frames with 80’s bits were noted.
There were many European marques including Bianchi, Flandria, Groene Leeuw Automoto, Raphael Geminiani, and others whose pedigree fitted the pre-’66 TdeF Bill. I realise that Gillott never had a machine in the TdeF to my knowledge but nor did Bates, Waller, Hetchins, George Elrick or many other British marques being ridden. The important thing was that they looked the part and they did. My ’55 Gillott has a Huret Louison Bobet twin wire rear mech, hand-operated front mech also by Huret and Stronglight cranks with TA adapter and rings, so the transmission is typical of the top end racers of the period. The frame is in original paint and transfers and has twin cable stop braze-ons for this special adjustable chain tension gear and has the twin control lever to suit. It also has an Edco nitrogen bottle clipped to the frame and spare tub in Gillott marked wrapper under the saddle. Finding period tubs is virtually impossible these days so apart from 70’s Wolbers it is all period correct.
Period dress was very much in evidence and together with the spectators, surroundings and period vehicles all gave a true sense of the past. We had TdeF escort vehicles especially brought over from France. Several Citroen Tractions, a weird looking gas bottle on wheels, and several other specially built commercial vans from past Tours . After car practice the Tour cyclists got onto the track. The Citroen pace car was supposed to wait for us all to gather on the grid but set off at speed.
Myself and many others were so awestruck by being on the hallowed Tarmac of Goodwood and the applause from spectators that we got left behind leaving a straggly line of Cyclists trying in vain to catch up. There was no riders/drivers briefing beforehand which would have helped to form a more cohesive peloton. The strong headwind didn’t help either. It was just the one lap and the gentlemen from France on their single speed Edwardian tour bikes, waxed moustaches, red shoulder worn inner tubes, flat hats and goggles cut a dash as they spun around.
I met up with friends Johnny and Lisa afterwards and we repaired to the hospitality of the Veuve Clicquot tearoom for sandwiches sans croute and more Shampoo. Then “over the road” for some vintage shopping which included Johnny buying me a £16 Cuban cigar. That impressed the ladies.
Wet weather ensued which drove many of us to the beer tent where we listened to Blur and Black Sabbath being covered by a band playing Drums, Banjo, Trombone and Sousaphone while Hoorays pogoed in wet tweed while I blew expensive smoke. A very muddy trudge back to the campsite. The old army Jeeps and Mk1 Land Rovers running a shuttle taxi service having long gone to bed.
Saturday 14th at Goodwood.
I popped my head out of the tent to see a Spitfire Mk 9 lifting off the grass lit by the low morning sun as it prepared for the first “wake up” display at 8.30. As the roar of its Merlin engine faded I could hear the Rockers motorbikes being chased around the track by the vintage Police cars. Our display was not until 4.00 so I set off to explore. Saturday is the first day of full car racing and the public arrived in force. Celebrity spotting is not my game but I did recognise Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly, Jackie Stewart, Alain de Cadenet, Chris Evans and Sir Chris Hoy. I also saw Elvis Presley many times, Generals Slim and McArthur, Elton John, The Cream, the Glamcabs Girls and a cast of thousands of other period clad hopefuls all doing their bit to turn Goodwood into a living museum. A favourite get up was the white drivers overalls which miraculously remained white while the “race drivers” face was black with make-up except for the goggle shape around the eyes, capped by the shiny goggles perched on the forehead or piss pot helmet in some cases. Chapeau to us all.
The weather was colder and changing into period cycling gear in the back of the tiny Citroen Camion Balai was a last minute affair close to our allotted track time. We had not bargained for car races running late then lengthy TV interviews with Sir Chris which kept us waiting out in the wind. I could see rain clouds approaching but they mercifully held off. At last we got on to the track to roars of applause and “AllezAllezAllez”. The TV crew were still filming Amanda Stretton interviewing Sir Chris as we cycled along, all jockeying for position to get “in the picture”.
At one point the driver missed a gear and there was a screeching of Mafacs as we all braked to avoid a mass mid circuit “chute” with a seven times Olympic gold medallist and TV starlet at the bottom . As we came round to the Chicane about 0.5km from the finish the TV van, Chris Hoy and Amanda peeled off as we all started to sprint for the line. I was doing pretty well when I heard a clang and looked down to see bits of my saddle nose bouncing down the starting grid. So I had overtaken Chris Hoy and bombed RAF Westhampnett with a B17 in one fell swoop. The marshals returned my sad saddle remains and I put them in my musette. After changing I decided I needed more Champagne. It had not been sprayed all over us glorious Vainqueurs as we returned au Village.
I did a splendid blag by accosting the Veuve Clicquot marketing manager – or rather he accosted me-and asking for the Pantone color references of Clicquot’s rich yellow for a frame respray. This elicited his card and a glass of pink sparkly stuff. Encore!
Afternoon tea was taken in the company of fellow cyclists and the pilot and crew of a magnificent Junkers 52 which was parked right outside, giving the impression we could all step aboard, fly to Tempelhof, and compete in the 1936 Hitler Olympics, which incidentally my Grandfather did, shooting clays for GB. Nell and I found ourselves atop the Helter Skelter in the vintage fairground just as the sun was setting. The GodRays framing the Spitfire and Mustang pair in tight formation looping the last light of an amazing day.
More pints of specially brewed Goodwood Ale, pulled pork burgers and another cigar rounded off the evening. On the way back Nigel, Nell and I had drinks with some dashing young blades who were there to race their AC sports cars. It was lovely and quiet as I sat and watched the thin clouds scudding across a waxing moon. I could hear my pocket watch ticking between the hoots of nearby Tawny Owls.
Sunday 15th at Goodwood.
Sunshine but the forecast was for rain by tea time. I made the most of the morning by clothes hunting in the many retro shops. I was the centre of attention in several specialist tweed emporiums as they marvelled at my suit. I was surprised and delighted to learn that none of them had seen a genuine 1930’s cycling suit before. I related the story of buying it for 30 pence in a garage sale many years ago to wear on a New Year’s Day shoot in Scotland. Within minutes of stepping outside I froze as a cold easterly penetrated the tweed. I thought no more of it as it languished in a wardrobe until years later I acquired a 1935 Holdsworthy Cyclists’ Aids booklet. Holdsworthy specialised in clothing and there were pages of dashing gentlemen in their tweed plusses. Bingo! This year it has won me “Best dressed Gent” at the Glasgow and Edinburgh Harris Tweed Rides.
We watched some racing from the Grandstand. It’s not often you see a Ferrari get shunted onto the grass, least of all 250 GTO reputedly worth 35 million pounds. As we assembled for our demo the biting wind brought a torrential downpour. All the finely dressed admirers vanished. I was still in my tweeds and could not face changing into shorts and wool top. Nigel’s Sciatica was giving him gyp and Nell had been working overseas and wanted to get home so we missed the last Celebrityless rain soaked demonstration and returned smelling like old wet dogs to the 21st Century.
My thanks to Tim Gunn of The Old Bicycle Company.
The Earl of March and Jack Tetley of Goodwood Revival
I hope that we get invited back next year.
Mark Stevens, Evanton, Scotland
As I was browsing through the various editions of Classic Lightweight News one rainy afternoon last week, as one does when it’s not possible to get out on the bike, do you or is it just me? Anyway, as I was saying, browsing through the Classic Lightweight News one rainy afternoon I came upon an item which you had raised about Campagnolo quick release track hubs. I knew that I had seen such an animal before somewhere so I started looking through some old Campagnolo catalogues which I had downloaded some time ago from www.campyonly.com and sure enough in the 1967 catalogue no. 15, which I have attached here for you, are the very same QR track hubs with bent QR levers, 1036/1A front and 1036/1P rear. I have a sneaky suspicion that these were maybe only available in the good ol’ US of A. Let’s face it, who else would want them ? I really can’t see the point as they don’t seem safe to me; surely that’s the point of lock nuts, is it not?
By now I was sidetracked by the Campag catalogues and I made a startling discovery. In all the catalogues I’ve seen, Campag show their rear hubs with the QR lever on the gear side, which is something else I’ve never seen before anywhere, with Campag or any other make. Have you ever seen QR rear hubs set up this way?
My second discovery was that the Campag handlebar end controls can only be used together and can’t be mixed and matched with a downtube lever because the downtube cable guide no. 629 is only available as a twin guide. They didn’t make a single and no one wants bits on their frame that aren’t being used correctly, do they? Woe betide any one handed cyclist who wanted to use one handlebar end control lever with a single downtube lever as he would have to either have the necessary bits brazed on to his frame or he would need to ‘fettle’ a contraption of his own devices and then the fashion police would be chasing him, would they not? David Topping.
We often receive, through the website, messages from the sons and grandsons of frame builders of the classic era. Sometimes they are requesting information but often are also able to add to our store of knowledge. Out of interest we are repeating a string of messages relating to the late Jim Collier, a respected frame builder of the post-war era.
I am Gary Collier, grandson of Jim Collier and doing research into my grandfather, Jim Collier and have come up with the provisional timeline:
Prior to WW2 : Worked for Hobbs of Barbican
WW2 : Worked in the Woolwich Arsenal
May 1945 : Released from Arsenal to work for Gillott where he and Philbrook trained Ron Cooper.
From here on he appears to have been rumoured to have worked for Ernie Young from 1952-58, however some sources on the net say he could have worked for AF Mills, Williamsons and Witcombe?
My dad also recalls that during the 60’s he worked for Don Louis I note that the N&V 324/37 April/May 2008 references a brake bridge that was distinctive and thought to have been his work? Do you have any more information on this, or a link to a copy? I’m now a cyclist myself and looking back into the history of vintage bikes, I think the ultimate for me would be to be able to own one of the frames that my granddad had built, but I’m not sure if the audit trails are still around to be able to identify one of his frames?
Hi Peter, I was reading the article about Don Louis bikes and the first article mentioned a bike builder whose name he couldn’t remember, who also worked for the post office. That bike builder was my father, JIM COLLIER. His name is mentioned in several articles and his picture is shown on the “Whitcomb” site. Hhe is also mentioned in the “Gillott” article.
Dad had five kids to provide for and the bike trade was dying due to the popularity of the car so he worked as a postman out of Alleyn Park postal depot and worked part-time for Don, who was indeed French.
When dad retired from the post office in his early seventies he went to Whitcombs as a sweeper up. I suppose he wanted to get back to his first love – BIKES – but when they found out who he was he soon went back on the benches and also taught many youngsters the trade.
He always cycled to work in Tanners Hill, Deptford from Dulwich and one frosty morning he came off on some ice and broke his hip. He then had to stop working and he lived quite happily with my mum in sheltered accommodation until his death at the age of 80.
Before he passed away we decided that we would spread his ashes at Herne Hill cycle stadium, as it was a place close to his heart. I am his only son butIi have two sons of my own, Gary the eldest, and Jamie who will carry on the Collier name for Jim my dad, Dennis James Collier.
Hi Dennis and Gary
Peter Underwood has forwarded your e-mails about Jim because I wrote a few things about him in connection with Youngs and A F Mills. About five or six years ago I bought a very nice early Youngs frame from Ray Young, Ernie Young’s younger brother, at a bike jumble in Kent. I subsequently found out from them that Jim made the first frames for them from around the very early 1950s. I of course knew that Jim worked for Gillott and assumed he had left to make frames for the trade. Imagine my surprise I found that the Williamson frame (dated 1955) I owned and restored some years earlier was almost identical. Williamson frames are very rare and the then owner, Wilf Alum, was believed to have built these himself. Another badged up as a Hobbs became known to me, although the VCC expert suggested that the frame number didn’t tally but as Hobbs outsourced their frames after 1953 I don’t think this was conclusive.
More recently I acquired another Youngs frame made, I judged, from the frame number much later, possibly 1956, that had some of the characteristics of the two earlier frames although quite a bit different. It is clearly an assumption but all three frames have a rather eccentric back brake bridge ( I attach a photo). Certainly both earlier frames built up ride exceptional well for their time and are very light. From around 1956 Youngs turned to the frame building establishment of Hines and Green in Finchley who built a great deal of frames for the trade. The question remains as to whether Jim was ‘moonlighting’ at Gillott or had already left to set up somewhere else. Many excellent frame builders left Gillott in the late 40s – early 50s and despite Harry Carrington’s (the proprietor) attention to detail and high standards I suspect that it was difficult to make a decent living. Bill Philbrook left around 1951 but secured a very good job at Claud Butler until they went into liquidation in October 1956.
The reference to a ‘John’ on the Don Louis web page refers to John Monger who made some frames over the years but had a full time job at the Post Office close by. According to Mick Coward in his autobiography, it was he and Harry Healy who built frames from him. The A F mills stuff is as the web page but hearsay.
So when did Jim leave Gillott and when did he join the post office? When did he join Witcomb? Ernie Witcomb I believe is still alive but must be approaching 100. His son Barry does a little work for Dave Crow at Colourtech at Crayford and worked with Ron Cooper until he died recently.
VCC marque enthusiast for Youngs of Lewisham
Spacers by Peter Underwood – I used to have a selection of spacers to use with fixed sprockets to help get correct chain alignment. They could also be used behind bottom bracket cups for the same purpose, or to give that extra bit of clearance for chainwheel bolts, etc. My collection had been salvaged from defunct Sturmey-Archer gears over the years. This supply seems to have dried up now and my numbers have dwindled to one or two spacers. I recently found that VeloSolo have spacer kits for sale at £7.95 for five washers of various thicknesses. Description: VeloSolo CNC BB/Cog/Mini SS-Top-up Spacer Kit Non-Anodized. They also have other kits but they are anodized so not suitable for use on classic lightweights. http://www.velosolo.co.uk
Peter Beaven has a Carpenter frame (no.5131) and fork for sale. Needs refinishing, slight dent in top tube. With badge. Nervex lugs. £65 email@example.com
I was a member of Coventry Cycling Club in the late 40s and on, owned a Percy Stallard road bike and a Claud Butler track bike. We used to meet by the War Memorial Park for a weekday evening ride and long weekend rides, sometimes after a time trial, where we rode to the start. Have to get the miles in one’s legs ! We also had one social evening at a pub.
I raced 10, 15 and 25 mile time trials and also the Isle of Man one year. What a great week that used to be. I also had races on the track at THE BUTTS in Coventry.
My maiden name is Essam. I now live in San Diego California (and have since 1965, Montreal, Canada 1963-65). I would greatly appreciate hearing from any of my “old” buddies. I keep looking on Facebook but no luck.
Mary Woodward – I have a perfect Stan Pike mixte frame (mid 1980’s. Royal blue enamel, white lining, gold shamrock lugs). It is in perfect condition having been always kept in the house and was custom made for me (I am average height) for me by Stan himself as a birthday present from my brother. At the moment it has drop handle bars/gears etc but has not been ridden for over 20 years and is not road-worthy.
I wondered if you could put me in touch with anyone who might buy and restore it and find it a good home.
It is a shame it is not being ridden. I am not much of a cyclist but I can remember it was very light and a pleasure to ride. I’ve attached a (not brilliant) photo of it as it is at the moment).
North London Section
After last year’s great success, we are holding our 2nd Cycle Jumble on :
Saturday 9th November 2013.
Location : The Tewin Memorial Hall, 11 Lower Green, Tewin, Hertfordshire AL6 0JX.
For Buyers : opens at 10am and closes 12.30pm. Admission 50p.
Stall and Pitch Holders: available from 9am and everybody out by 1pm. Only clean jumble inside please where a single table will be provided. Outside pitches in car park. Provide own tables.
All bookings, with money £5 to :
Paul Lohr, 3 Churchfield Road, Tewin Herts AL6 0J
Refreshments available. Tea/Coffee, Bacon Roll etc.
Tewin is a small village to the west of Hertford. It has pleasant lanes surrounding so make a cycling day of it. There are two pubs to retire to when the buying and selling becomes too much.
Railway Stations : Hertford (3 miles) : Hertford North – Kings Cross/Stevenage line, Hertford East – Liverpool Street line. Welwyn North : (3.5 miles) – Kings Cross – Cambridge/Peterborough Line
Parking – Free : No parking at rear of Hall please; this is for stalls. Possibilty of using Bowls Club car park next door; check on the day.
If parking in village be considerate please as we wish to come back next year.
As last year, we are setting aside a free table for V-CC members who can use it just to sell a few items. Please label them clearly with your name and the price you want. If you have lots to sell then best to book a separate table of your own with Paul.