Magazine, October 31, 1964
TRADE WITH A FUTURE
Roger St. Pierre visits Gillotts where quality justifies optimism
I have no worries as to the future of the ight weight trade, we are working to capacity
with permanent overtime." Those words of confidence came from manager Harry
Carrington when I visited the Gillott for Good Cycles Limited showrooms at 221 Camberwell
Road, London, S.E.5, recently.
But Harry qualified his statement I do think that the days I of the small scale specialist
are numbered, he just can't afford to carry the size.of stock which the present day rider
demands and hasn't the capital to tide him through the slack.
Gillotts realized this and amalgamated with Edwardes of Camberwell, for many years a
-reputed dealer in roadsters and sports machines as well as mopeds.
" This allows us to think big and provide whatis almost certainly the biggest stock
in London, while at the same time our side of the business runs separately without having
to stock mopeds or toys to keep alive," added Harry.
Showroom is no misnomer for Gillotts' shop, it is surprisingly tidy and well ordered but
not lacking that friendly atmosphere we all look for - a fact borne out by the large
numbers of club folk who congregate there on Saturdays.
Of course Harry's vast experience in the trade, he has been with Gillotts since 1929, is
an added attraction and he speaks clubman's language -- having been a Catford C.C. member
for 18 years after 21 years with the now defunct Hampton C.C. and he is not just a Catford
member in name for until last year he was assistant organizer of the club's famous "
We walked round the corner to watch the frames being made in the company's Southampton Roadworks,
which reflect the tidiness of the showrooms.
There we watched Ron Cooper at work on a Fleur de Lys model, at 21L 5s, Gillotts' dearest
basic frameset in a range which includes only top grade frames, starting at 16L 19s. 6d.
" We turnout 500 frames a year and they all go through Ron's hands, we would produce'
more but we just can't get class frame builders, and we don't farm work out," Harry
Ron chipped in : "I do the lot - file the lugs and build the.frames.
"And we use all the latest methods and ideas - sloping crowns and all the rest."
A Gillott man for 18 years, Ron was no mean rider, he rode in the Brighton-Glasgow and
theTour of Britain before a serious crash caused a premature retirement : " I rode
for the Castilla Racing Club; people think the club folded years ago but we are still
going strong, it is just that with younger members and all of us having finished our
racing careers we didn't bother to re-affiliate the club, but we still hold regular club
runs although I must admit a lot of the boys turn up by car !"
As we talked, Ron brazed the frame: "Torch control is a most important but often
overlooked factor, you have to avoid scorching the tubes for a good job but with today's
ideas of rapid production many builders fall down on this," he said.
"A lot of builders use a very hot flame, so that the outside of the tube is burnt
whilst the heat does not penetrate right through," added Ron.
" You must have a good flow of brass to get a strong joint but the thing wbich really
hallmarks a craftsman-built frame is careful mitering of the tubes, once you have done
this, half the battle is won."
I was watching the work of a man obviously proud of his skills but still young enough to
readily accept new developments.
From a drawer Ron produced the " raw material " from which sloping crowns are
produced. When comparing it with the finished article one appreciates the hours of patient
work needed to trim off the excess metal and polish away the roughness.
" They give us a lot more work than the normal type but the finished job gives a very
strong fork. It is an unusual crown as it fits inside the blade instead of the other way
round," commented Ron.
While Ron was busy at his forge, two mechanics were assembling complete bikes and wrapping
them up in corrugated cardboard ready for dispatch to the company's widely dispersed
There were several track frames hanging up, besides an already assembled 18 gear job for
an American customer. Said Harry : " We export aroundl 100 complete bikes to the
States every year.
." Due to our proximity to the Herne Hill track we probably build more track irons
than anyone else, although they only represent a small part of our total production,"
Gillott's must be one of the few dealers still to produce stock touring jobs and, with
brazed on dynamo boss, deep alloy mudguards and sturdy carriers, these machines were well
received at York.
But the range covers all aspects of the sport. Road racing, Ron's first love, is well
catered for and the company sponsor a series of road events in Kent.
" We would certainly give favourable consideration to running an independent team if
we were approached by riders of the right calibre.
" We wouldn't expect world beaters but would want riders with a sense of duty, riders
who would take the thing seriously and warrant our support," Harry told me.
When Mr. Gillott, the founder, died, Harry took over the running of the firm. His link up
with Edwardes of Camberwell gave a wonderful opportunity to re-establish the marque's
former prominence, an opportunity which has been successfully carried through.
Many of the track frames Gillotts build are solely designed for that purpose with solid
crowns and ultra-close clearance such as the impressive all-chrome machine which was
hanging in their window and had been on show at the York Rally -
Harry and Ron bide no secrets, they do not mind spending time on explaining methods of
production and giving advice, it is this kind of service which certainly assures the
healthy future in which Harry is confident.