Classic Lightweights UK
Classic Frame Builders  

W F Holdsworth 

Author: Clive Holmes-Dowkes

The Frames

Whirlwind head - 250The Holdsworth post war years were full of ups and downs. The immediate years, from 1946-50 saw, the production of only three models. The Cyclone-de-Luxe, topped the range, identified by its Gothic spear-head lugs, with added elongated spear, along the top and down tube, at the head tube and, the top tube at the seat cluster. It was available as a Road frame or a Track model, at a price of £15.15.0 in 1949. The Cyclone model came next using the same lugs but without the addition of the elongated spear. At £13.10.0 it soon became the most popular model, outselling the De-Luxe and, the third model, the La Quelda, a lugless frame, introduced to answer the increasing demand for a welded frame.

During this period, parts and materials were difficult to obtain and changes were made to specifications dictated by availability.  I have seen forks made with round-round, oval-round and, D-round with, cast fork crowns and, with Holdsworths own twin plate crowns. Frames were made from Renolds “531” tubing and had Stallard or Chater Lea ends.  Finish for these frames was, any colour enamel or, lustres in gold, copper, bronze, silver, mauve, maroon, light or dark green, blue or grey. Flamboyants were also available in Ruby red, Helyett green, or Brilliant blue, all on a silver base.

If availability of parts proved the problem in the early post war years, the period from 1951-54 was hindered by the de-rationing of petrol and the cancelling of purchase tax, leading to increased sales and increased use of motor cycles and cars. This coming soon after the descition by Holdsworth, to increase their range to seven models, saw demand for cycles drop off.

Cyclone 50Launched at the cycle show in 1950 for the 51 season were, in addition to the earlier three models, the Sirocco, Tornado, La Variable and, Typhoon. Top of the range now, was the Sirocco. It came with new hand cut lugs in a scroll design, more ornate than had previously been used at a price of £17.17.0. The frame lasted just two years being renamed the Whirlwind in 52 and dropped in 53 when a new Whirlwind was launched.   The Tornado was a Massed Start frame with lugs which had scrolls and windows and was priced at a pound cheaper than the Cyclone-De-Luxe at £14.14.0.  The La Variable and the Typhoon lay at the “Clubman” end of the range being available as a complete cycle or as a frame.  Price for La Variable was £26.14.10. with Simplex Champion du Monde gears and the Typhoon £24.12.6. with single fixed.   The price for frames only £10.17.6. and, £10.10.0.

1950 Cyclone (with 55 headbadge)

1952 saw the introduction of the Zephyr and the dropping of the Cyclone-de-Luxe. The Zephyr lugs were the same as those on the earlier Cyclone with the addition of windows, frames were for Road Path use and cost £15.15.0.  With the passing of the Cyclone- de-Luxe the Cyclone took on a simpler lug but was embellished by the addition of the long spear point used on the De-Luxe, but with a single window cut into it. The price now was £14.7.6.  A ladies version was also available with a shorter top tube.
Whirlwind head side - 250
New for 1953, was the “new” Whirlwind. Gone were the scroll lugs originally used on the Sirocco, now we had an ornateness never before seen on a Holdsworth.   Sandy Holdsworth personally endorsed the frame as “His pet”, this top of the range frame was still £17.17.0.   A new Path frame was listed this year but only lasted for the one year. The Roi De Velo appears with little information other than it was lugged, had round fork blades and used Holdsworths own oval box crown, it cost £15.5.0.  This was also the first year of the Hurricane, produced as an entry level complete cycle, not available as frame only.

Right:  the new Holdsworth Whirlwind head lugs
Monsoon 1960
Left: Monsoon 1960

1954 saw the introduction of the Monsoon, this middle of the range frame costing £12.12.0, with scroll lugs, was to prove a success for Holdsworth and, stay in the range unaltered for 10 years. The frame was designed as a Massed start frame with 72° parallel angles.  I believe and, it’s only my opinion, that the lugs used were part of the stock bought from F H Grubb in 1951 after they stopped trading.  The lugs are almost identical to those used on the F H G Perfection Exquisite model offered by them in the late 50s.

1955 A watershed year for Holdsworth. The range consisted of :
Whirlwind @ £17.17.0.
Zephyr @ £14.14.0.
Hurricane 1958Cyclone @ £14.7.6.
Monsoon @ £12.12.0.
Typhoon @ £11.11.0.                                                                 
Right: Hurricane 1958 with Nervex Lugs

The Hurricane Cycle only available to five different specification depending on the equipment from £23.9.0.  Most significant was the move towards Nervex lugs, only available on the Cyclone this year. All other models stayed as previous years, it leads the way.  But, Holdsworth still embellished the lugs by adding the long spear point to the Nervex lug.  Also new this year for the Monsoon, was the mention of Agrati ends, with Campagnolo self-centering ends available at extra cost.  These had only been available on the Whirlwind during the previous year.

Things get a little fuzzy in the period from 1955-60. What I do know, is that trading became difficult at Holdsworth and the range was reduced to four frames by 1960.  These were Cyclone, Zephyr, Monsoon and Hurricane.  The Cyclone and Hurricane both had Nervex lugs while the Monsoon and the Zephyr retained theirs from previous years.  Gone during this period were the Whirlwind and Typhoon

The People
For me this is a fascinating period in Holdsworths history.  As a schoolboy cyclist I won winter Roller events and gained silver and bronze RTTA medals at 10 and 25-mile time trials on my pride and joy, a Holdsworth Monsoon.  I rode with the South Eastern Road Club, fellow members being Lou Smith, manager of Holdsworths Beckenham branch, his wife Ann, both became directors of Holdsworths in later years and, BobDonnington who later married Leslie Smith and became a Holdsworth manager.

Holdsworth were a large producer of hand made quality frames, equally as good as any small volume builder. They employed frame builders and designers with the quality of Bill Rann, Bill Hurlow and Chas Roberts to name but a few so the quality was assured, we should not undervalue them.

The Head Badge and down tube transfer.
Head Badge 55 onThe changes in 1953 included a new head badge (left). Stamped from a soft alloy it continued the tradition of the prancing horse and the crossed scimitars and was Gold/Blue/Red in colour but, with the addition of a crown on top. This badge stayed with Holdsworth until the end becoming a transfer in the late 70s. Prior to this the head badge used most commonly was of pressed brass which was then enamelled in red and black.  However a very ornate badge has appeared on the top models. It is evident from early catalogues that a crown shaped badge which was made from brass appeared on the Sirocco and Whirlwind models. This badge appears to have come in two forms, the first as described above and the second with the addition of a scroll above the crown with the frame model name stamped into it.  So far, I have only seen a photograph of this rare badge, on a Cyclone-de-Luxe.  With the difficulties experienced immediately post war, with the supply of materials, some frames were sent out, with transfers on the head tube and I have heard of an early alloy badge but, as yet I have not seen one.

Two types of down tube transfer were used. Pre-war and, post-war up to 1955, a fancy block lettering was used. These transfers were easily identified, as the W.F. were placed one above the other preceding the Holdsworth (below).  In 1953, Holdsworth changed to a fancy script style this style lasting till 1955. With both the badges and the transfers however there was a certain amount of crossover.

W F Holdsworth transfer

Holdsworth signed all their models putting a small transfer ether side of the top tube, towards the front near the head lugs. Without this, the frames can be identified usually, by the lugs.

Holdsworth also produced a tricycle conversion set from the 1930's to the 1970's.  

For a comprehensive over view of Holdsworth from its beginnings in the 1920s I recommend Norman Kilgariff's Site at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/nkilgariff/

Clive would like to hear from anyone with further information on the Holdsworth marque.  His phone no. is 01227 374265.    E-mail cwdsmd(at)clivesue.wanadoo.co.uk.       Substitute @. for (at)

Holdsworth 678-220
1947 Holdsworth Cyclone frame No. 8153 with first post-war lugs without spear extension
Holdsworth 679-220
Seat cluster on this frame with sculpted seat stay eyes
Holdsworth 680-220
Bottom bracket cluster with short spears

Holdsworth 682-220
1949 holdsworth La Quelda frame No. 11767 - note twin plate fork crown
Holdsworth 683-220
Lugless bottom bracket cleaned and filed to perfection
Holdsworth 684-220
Seat cluster with sculpted seat stay eyes, brake cable bridge and seat clip

Holdsworth 485-220
Holdsworth 483-260
Images of 1950 Cyclone seen above
Left: Cyclone 'Gothic' spear extension with 'window' - used late 1950-54
Right: The same lugs used for the seat lug, note beautifully finished seat stays
Holdsworth 486-200

Holdsworth 482/220
Holdsworth 480-220
Three images of the 1952 Typhoon:
Left: Seat stay eyes (also used on La Variable)
Above: Complete machine frame no. 15094
Right: Head lugs and head badge - Typhoon on top tube
Holdsworth 481-220

Holdsworth 676-220
1952 Holdsworth Zephyr frame No. 15948
Showing head lugs with windows and small
 'Gothic' spears which were also used on Cyclone de Luxe but without window
Holdsworth 677-220
Close-up of seat lug cluster here with wrap-around seat stay eyes

Holdsworth 488-220
Head lugs on 1954 Typhoon Frame No. 17456
Holdsworth 490-220
Head lugs on 1958 Typhoon frame No. 25003
Holdsworth 491-220
1958 again and Nervex lugs are being used, also correct headbadge


Holdsworth 500-220
Holdsworth 501-220
1955 Cyclone Frame No. 18144

Above: Close-up of 'new' Nervex lugs showing added spear with window.

head lugs and 'new' head badge
Holdsworth 502-220
Above: The same machine this time showing seat cluster, again with added spear with window and the simplified seatstay eye

Holdsworth 505-220
Holdsworth 506-220

Above: Seat lug cluster with simpler seat stay eyes

Left: 1960 Holdsworth Monsoon frame No. 27338 showing attractive scroll lugs plus 'Monsoon' on top tube
Holdsworth 507-220

Above: Close-up of fish-tail lugs at bottom bracket, also note oiler rather than grease nipple

For more information on Holdsworth see Hilary Stone's Classic Designs > W F Holdsworth - featuring the Whirlwind.