Classic Lightweights UK
Granby Regent Taperlite c.1954Owned by: Derek Athey
As a teenager one of my local cycle shops was the Crayford branch of Ron Argent Cycles, even though the Erith Works were only a mile or so away from my home they had no showroom. So Crayford was one of my regular visits after school to oggle the cycles. However, by this time (1959) the windows were shared by mopeds, toasters, hairdryers, record covers etc etc.
They certainly didn't have the 'unorthodox' models there, these were all 'to order' (assuming they still made them in 1959). It was not until my personal research of 'classic' lightweights in the mid 80's did I discover the existence of Granby Taper Tube models.
At this time I was living in Kent near Tunbridge Wells, nowhere near North West Kent, the home of Ron Argent shops. So I had my mother post cards in all her local paper shops as she still lived in Belvedere next to Erith, requesting the whereabouts of any Granby frames for sale - especially a taper tube model. This lasted for about 5 years and collected no responses at all.
It wasn't until I was on one of the early Hetchins Weekends at Don Hill's place on the Somerset levels in around 1993 that Alexander Von Tutschek appeared at the jumble after the ride with a tatty frame that caught my eye. It was a very reasonable price as well! (Alexander has recently admitted he really didn't realize what he had, or how rare it was).
I went away as happy as a 'sandboy'. I wasn't able to build it up however, as the steerer tube appeared to have been cut down too short. It wasn't until I spent some more time learning about Granby's unique patented inventions that I learnt that the short steerer tube was because it needed their patented headset, which does away with the spacers and traditional lock-nut design. (see image on left of Granby patented weather-proof headset).
This even rarer item turned up unexpectedly in NOS at a subsequent Ripley Jumble on the late Wally Stimson's stall (an ex-cycle trader). Between myself and David Hinds we bought all half dozen or so. This acquisition meant that I could finally build up the machine with 'bits and bobs' that I had spare at the time. It remained that way for the next twelve years or so.
The finish wasn't original upon purchase, but had been re-enamelled by Rattray's of Glasgow (Flying Scot fame) many years previously, and as was bordering on rusty. So I slapped on some rust prevention paint to stop further rusting. However, over the following year it deteriorated even further. I didn't want to have it redone until I found some of the original transfers as fitted, which were a rare 'Festival of Britain' design as David had subsequently discovered.
After many, many, years of searching and subsequent nagging of Nick Tithecott to reproduce them, he recently confessed to having had a single example for some time and, after making myself a nuisance for many months he finally agreed to complete the artwork of the design for replication.
Having finally secured the elusive decals, I recently stripped the frame and dropped it off to Argos for a long-awaited paint job. Prices have escalated three fold since my last frame refinish in 1994, so I was unable to spend huge sums and went for a plain, period look in a Powder Blue colour. Cleaning of the parts took place in the interim and was fianlly built up again last month. So after nearly 20 years I now have a resplendent Granby Regent Taperlite ready for use next summer.
Granby patented taper, seat and down, tubes and hand-cut lugs
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