Old Bloke On An Old Bike

The story of the restoration of a 1950s classic bicycle for a Land's End – John O'Groats charity ride in aid of Alzheimer's Society

28 Aug 2014: the build begins…

I now have the heart of the bike that will take me from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society.


It is a 23″ frame, hand-built by the small firm of Ellis Briggs, who have been building beautiful bikes in Shipley, West Yorkshire since 1936. Ellis Briggs still have most of their old production records and a phone call established that my frame (number 1487) was built in December 1949. It is an example of their top-of-the-range International frameset, similar to the bike used in the remarkable 1952 Tour of Britain win by individual entrant Ken Russell. The Ellis Briggs website gives a great deal of information about the way their frames were – and are still – built.

The frame is in good basic condition, but with battered paintwork and some surface rust. The current purple/blue finish is almost certainly an old repaint rather than the original paintwork, so I intend to have it resprayed. It seems appropriate to commission Ellis Briggs to carry out the respray.

The next steps in the preparation of the bike for LEJoG will be to:

  • assemble a complete set of 1950s vintage components
  • do a preliminary build into a complete bike
  • use the bike for a series of training rides to make sure that both she and I are fit to meet the challenge
  • strip down the bike, repaint the frame and re-chrome components where necessary

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This entry was posted on September 14, 2014 by in The bike and tagged , , , , .


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