ON YOUR BIKE ...
| The world famous Raleigh bike will now be made abroad|
What was your first bike? Bet that it was a Raleigh.
We celebrate the end of an era as bike production ceases in Nottingham.
Get on your bike with Inside Out.
once the biggest cycle factory in the world, employing 10,000 workers
and making two million bikes every year.
A few weeks ago an era ended when Britain's most famous
bike manufacturer ceased production at its factory on Triumph Road in
With increasing global competition and cheap imports,
Raleigh has been facing tough times. It's a sad story....
is a Nottingham institution, an icon of the industrial age |
The name Raleigh has been synonymous with bikes since the
company was founded in a small workshop on Raleigh Street by three men in
1886. They produced just three bikes a week.
firm's potential, a local lawyer, Frank Bowden, bought the business and
founded the Raleigh Cycle Company in 1888. Bike production rose to 60
a week, and 200 new staff were taken on.
By the 1920s
Raleigh was a world leader, producing 100,000 bikes and 15,000 motorcycles
After the war, production continued to grow, and by 1951
Raleigh was producing over a million cycles annually.
But the bubble was about to burst with the boom in car ownership.
Cycle sales halved and Raleigh saw its market share
shrinking at an alarming rate.
Raleigh responded by launching a motor scooter and introducing
a new generation of bikes, but competition was growing.
were renowned for being reliable, trustworthy, strong, well-made and
In the early
1970s, Raleigh enjoyed a brief resurgence, thanks to the launch of the
Chopper bike for teenagers.
cost almost double the price of an average child's bike at 31 guineas
(£32.55 in current money). Perhaps you were one of the 1.5 million
cyclists who bought a Chopper in the 1970s?
The BMX and mountain bike crazes also helped to keep Raleigh
afloat, but the marketplace was volatile.
The company was taken over by Derby International in 1987,
but competition from abroad put Raleigh back on
a knife edge in the 1990s.
Raleigh's share of the market plummeted to just 15% in
1998, the lowest since 1970. The following year was worse and the writing
was on the wall for the company. Raleigh was forced to make some tough
decisions, and streamline its factories.
|Raleigh - A history|
- The Raleigh factory starts making bicycles.
- The Raleigh Cycle Company was founded.
- Raleigh acquires Humber cycles.
- Raleigh starts producing a three-wheeler
- Raleigh launches its Gazelle budget bikes.
- The Raleigh building is used as a munitions
- Raleigh launches the Chopper.
- Raleigh launches the Select electric bike.
- Raleigh ceases production of bike frames in the UK.
- Raleigh closes its Nottingham factory
with the loss of 300 jobs.
- Raleigh bike manufacture switches to Vietnam,
Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The latest Raleigh catalogue offers a fantastic range
of bike designs from mountain biking, downhill and racing bikes to models
designed for BMX, cross country, commuting, and touring.
So what does the future hold for
the company and its workers?
Manufacture of Raleigh bikes has now been transferred
to the Far East where production costs are up to 22% cheaper.
But although the bikes will be made abroad, the name
Raleigh will live on.
The company will continue to design
and distribute their world famous bicycles from the East Midlands.
But it's a sad fact of life that Nottingham has lost
one of its best loved traditional industries.
Author Alan Sillitoe, whose book "Saturday Night,
Sunday Morning" was filmed in the factory, recently described Raleigh
as the 'soul of Nottingham'.
For Nottingham and the Raleigh workers, the end of bike
production is a real body blow.
For most of us our memories of Raleigh will last forever.
Who could forget that shiny new bike with its trademark heron's head badge?
It's a poignant reminder of the world beating British
bike which once proudly proclaimed 'Made in Nottingham'.