During our trip to Stratford back in March, I paid a visit to The Traditional Cycle Shop – Stratford-upon-Avon’s only retailer of Pashley’s Cycles. Having grown-up in Stratford, the home of Pashley, it is a brand which I feel a real affinity to.
Many moons ago, there was a bike shop hidden down a small dark alley in the centre of town. I always thought this was a Pashley shop but I’m not sure whether my memory has failed me. Whenever my Dad said that we needed to pop in there, I was always filled with anticipation and excitement. I’m not even sure why I got so excited. It’s not like there was even a distinct possibility that I would come out with a new bike. It was just about being with my Dad and sharing an interest.
I can still see the shop now but more than the visual memory, it is my memory of the smell that is most vivid. The smell of rubber and oil. To this day, these memories come flooding back whenever I enter a bike shop.
Pashley Cycles were originally produced in Birmingham but their factory moved to Stratford during the 1960s. My Dad recently told me that, back in the day, he was offered a job at Pashley but he turned it down. I sometimes like to ponder what my childhood bikes would have been like, if my Dad had taken that job.
Another quirk of Pashley fate, came when I started working for Tate St Ives back in 2006. I was sent to speak to a Mr Pashley about accounts. He worked in a small cupboard of an office with two other colleagues. We got talking about where we were from originally. I said I was from Stratford. He laughed and said he was from just outside Stratford. Then the penny dropped. “You’re not one of THE Pashleys are you?” I asked. He was.
A few months later, I was at the station with my Dad and Mr Pashley was on the other platform waiting for the train home. My Dad said: “Gosh, he’s got to be a Pashley”.
Up until a year ago, the bike I used on a regular basis was a mystery antique – a 1940s ish possible BSA or Raleigh. It weighed a tonne and was completely impractical for our hilly terrain. It was time to retire poor “Bertie” and invest in something more serious. Although I love Pashley bikes, I really struggled to find a bike which would suit my requirements – a step through, lightweight, skinny steel frame with serious gears – so I built my own using a 1980s Reynolds frame. After a respray and a host of new-old-stock and vintage shiny bits, Rosa was born. There is definitely a nod to Pashley Cycles in Rosa’s design. Long live Pashley and all that ride on her. www.pashley.co.uk, www.traditionalcycleshop.co.uk
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