The story of the Raleigh factory starts with three men, Woodhead, Angois and Ellis.
In 1886 they started making bicycles at a small workshop on
Raleigh Street in Nottingham.
They were only turning out three bikes a week - but they still caught the attention
of Frank Bowden a local lawyer.
Bowden was to transform their company beyond all recognition.
Sir Frank Bowden
In 1887 Frank Bowden was told he had only months to live. Rather than accept hs
fate, he chose to follow the advice of his doctor who told him to take up cycling
to save his life.
To improve his health, he went to Raleigh Street, where he
found 12 men in a small workshop producing three cycles a week.
Bowden then decided to buy the workshop and the Raleigh Cycle
Company was founded.
In December 1888, The Raleigh Cycle Company was founded.
A five storey factory - close to the original workshop - was taken over, and production
rose to 60 bicycles a week and the workforce shot up to 200.
At the beginning of the 21st century, around 300 people were being made redundant
with the closure of the Raleigh factory on Triumph Road in Lenton.
Raleigh bikes are now to be assmbled abroad at three factories
in the far east.
The company's sales, marketing, design and distribution divisions
will be based on Church Street in Eastwood, where around 120 people will be employed
Every Raleigh bike sold in Britain will now come from that
one depot, the bikes will be sent over from abroad to the Eastwood warehouse.
The company's also retaining its fleet of 18 trucks, which are specially designed
to carry bicycles in such a way as to avoid damage in transit.
The firm says it's the only bike manufacture in Britain to have such a fleet of
trucks - other manufacturers rely on regular couriers who transport their goods
along with other freight.
The company will employ 4 people at the Eastwood site making
wheels for spares or repairs.
They believe 100,000 will eventually be produced there each
It's a far cry from the height of the company's success when
it employed well over 8000 people making 2 million bikes a year.
This year the firm has seen a 20% increase in sales on last year - they stand
at around 500,000.
Reasons for closure
There's been huge investment in bike factories in the far east in recent years
- it means raleigh are now satisfied they can make bikes cheaper but crucially
to the same quality abroad.
The company's previous owners sold the Triumph Road site to
the University of Nottingham during a period of severe financial crisis.
That meant the company had to move out of its current home
by the end of 2003.
It was planning to build a brand new factory in Nottingham
at a cost of around 11 million pounds.
But with the costs and quality of production in the far east becoming so attractive
while negotiations over that new factory continued, the company decided it could
no longer justify investing in British production.
The Triumph Road site had become simply an assembly plant
in recent years, sourcing most of its major parts from abroad. It ceased to make
its own parts years ago.