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The Mal Rees Story - A brief history of the man & his cyclesby Peter Stray - V-CC Marque Enthusiast for Mal Rees Cycles
Maldwyn Claude Rees was born in 1909 in Chepstow and first became interested in cycling as a 17 year old - previously he had been a runner and rugby player - and was a young man of good education, having attended Newport High School. By his own account his first cycling club was the Newport & Risca Wheelers (later Newport & District) where he was a keen club rider and time trialist.
He moved to the South London area about 1930 and joined the Dale Park CC, during this period he worked for various companies within the cycle trade including Holsworthy, F.W.Evans and M.G.Selbach. He eventually settled in Hayes, West London where in 1939 he was a founder member of the Middlesex Road Club (along with Arch Harding, Jack Jackson and Tich Waller).
In 1946 he founded Mal Rees Cycles at 83 Coldhabour Lane, Hayes, the first shop manager was I’m led to believe, Alan Emery, a member of the Middlesex Clarion and also a strong advocate of the B.L.R.C.
VCC member, Bill Foster also worked for Mal Rees in the late 40’s and remembers his job included travelling to Hobbs of Barbican by train, collecting finished frames, and on his return to the shop fixing the Mal Rees transfers. The shop also sold Hobbs frames and machines.
In 1951 Ken Lingard joined the business as manager. During this period frames were being built inside the shop by Bill Perkins (known as Perky Bill), the main frame builder who was assisted by Ron Rowlands. I have no knowledge of any catalogues or model types produced at this time and only know of two machines from the years 1949 to 1953.
It was eventually decided on safety grounds that frame building should be discountinued at the shop as the working area was very restricted and the shed at the rear of the shop already being used for storage purposes.
In 1954 Ken Lingard negotiated contracts with Bill Hurlow who he had known for some years and who was already doing frame repairs for the business along with Wally Green – Bill Hurlow was to build Rameles, (using one one of his own lug cutout designs), Amersham and Chalfont models, while Wally Green is to produce the competively priced Chiltern model to combat Claud Butler and other cycle dealer’s cheaper models. The Chiltern was fitted with all British equipment to keep the price as low as possible.
A catalogue was produced using Johnny Helm’s cartoons, for which he received a Rameles frame as payment. From this time on all catalogues follow the same format and the cartoons were also used for advertising in cycle magazines.
Ken Lingard left Mal Rees in 1964, the shop still being situated at 83 Coldharbour Lane, Hayes. In 1967 Mal Rees sold the business to work as a sports journalist and photographer, much of his work can be read in Sporting Cyclist of this era. Malcolm and Sue Nichols took over the business and during their time they moved the shop along the road to 13 Coldharbour Lane, the old Co-op grocery.
Eventually the shop closed down during the 1980s. Mal Rees died in 1983 and he was cremated at the Breakspear Crematorium, Ruislip.
The photograph on the right shows Mal Rees as President of the Hillingdon CC winning The Old Crocks' Ten in 1982. This was in the year before he died.
Peter Stray 13/04/2006
A mid-fifties Mal Rees Chalfont restored in 2006 by Peter Brown for one of his family using available components. Peter test-rode the machine for a few weeks and was reluctant to part with it.
Below: details of the Chalfont
Mick Butler sends a picture of the legendary Arch Harding in the 1961 National 24 hour Championship. That year the Mersey Road Club ran the event. Arch was a member of the Middlesex Road Club whose President was Mal Rees and if you look closely you can see that Arch is riding a Bill Hurlow built Mal Rees 'Rameles' frame.
© 2006 Classic Lightweights