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Classic Lightweights UK
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Tom Maysh 

Author Peter Underwood with information from Odette Coates


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Tom Maysh's shop showing a selection of machines including a lightweight and a carrier bike.
Tom sold frames using the name Girtford, as advertised in the window.
Sign says, 'Official Suppliers to CTC and NCU'.
In common with many shops of this era they sold Aladdin 'Pink' paraffin which would have been used for lamps and heaters.


Odette writes: I am the daughter of Tom Maysh. My father, Tom, started selling and making cycles when the Second World War ended. Early on he built and painted his own frames in the large workshop at the rear of the shop. Previously his father, Tom Maysh, had used the premises at 77 Bowes Road, Palmers Green, London N.13 as a car repair workshop and they were both qualified engineers. His father carried on using the workshop at the rear for car repairs but Tom was much more interested in bikes. In the 1950's he opened another shop in Southgate High Street and employed three men there.  All the bicycles that he sold had a transfer with his name on the frame. He also was the builder of the Girtford cycle frame. Dad was a keen cyclist and belonged to the Kingsdale Cycling Club. Probably Dad was a fan of Frederick Thomas Bidlake, who has a memorial garden at Girtford Bridge. Frederick died in 1933. Tom had the premises until 1975. By then he had developed Parkinson's and could no longer use his hands for the precise movements he needed as an engineer.

After the war when money was tight Dad opened his own utility company to help in the sale of the bikes. He named the firm after his three children Od-le-ba. The company was dissolved in 1966.

My brother and my son are both keen cyclists.

In the late 1940's Tom used to hold competitions in the shop window with bikes on rollers as his father had done pre-war (see image below).

Phil Easton from California adds:

Thank you for dragging Tom Maysh and his shop back out of the mists of time for me. This was my local bike shop, and I first went there when I joined the North London CTC at age 11 in 1947 (my Mother had bought me a used Excel in the hopes I would pass the dreaded 11+ exam, I didn't, but got to keep the bike). I remember going over there to watch the roller racers after one or two of the club meetings.

I don't remember as many people as in the 1949 picture, but of course it was in the evening when I went. The score boards, etc. are as I remember them. Wouldn't want to be an 11 or 12-year old cycling along Bowes Road these days, I think I was living on a different planet in those days.

Incidentally, this was also Pat Hanlon's address, at the time there was another bike shop a couple of blocks away, I think it was on the corner of the road leading up to Bounds Green, and I think it was called Osborne (Oscrofts says Odette, who passed it on her way to school). They were agents for Sun Cycles, so that agency must have moved from Tom as I see an advertisement for Sun Cycles in the prewar picture.


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 Here you can see a crowd of excited cyclists watching roller racing, which was a popular sport at this time, 1949
The dial connected to the rollers and showing the progress of the competitors can be seen on the left.

If you look closely inside the shop, you will see an advertisement for the film, A Boy, a Girl and a Bike,
which starred Honor Blackman and Diana Dors.  When the film was shown at Palmers Green (I think the Gaumont)
  Diana Dors came to the cinema and Dad met her on the stage to promote the film. Diana was 18 at the time.
 I can remember the excitement although I was very young at the time.

 

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This is an image of the shop taken in 1938 and again a crowd watches roller racing in the window. Being pre-war Tom's father was advertising both cycles and motors with Morris cars sign. There was a large workshop to the rear of the premises allowing room for car repairs.

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Detail image of Doris Simmons roller-racing in the shop in 1938

Graham Simmons adds:

Looking through a page about Tom Maysh I found amongst the pictures of 77, Bowes Road the one above then headed 'Woman roller racing 1938' (as it was before we received this story Ed.) and I would like to give you the name of that lady as she was my mother and a friend of the Maysh family and I still keep in touch with Odette and Barry. My mother was Doris Simmons (nee Abbey) who married my father Les Simmons in 1937 until they both died at the end of 2001. Dad was also a member of the Kingsdale Cycling Club and when Mum and Dad married, at the Bowes Road Methodist Church (now Trinity at Bowes) they went on a tandem to North Devon for their honeymoon.

I saved and bought one of Tom Maysh cycles in the early 1950's, it was a black one with Tom Maysh, in white writing, which was one left over from an export order for Canada and after it was written off in an accident it was replaced by a red one that was sadly lost after moving house.


 Tom Maysh on a penny farthing bike with Odette's brother Barry aged 4 with his bike.  Photo taken in 1951.

 

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Kingsdale Cycling Club in 1936. Tom is in back row on the left