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Walklings - AW CyclesAuthor John Barringer
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Last weekend I went down to South London in an attempt to find out more about the Dan Genner shop.
However, I was unlucky in that the Wimbledon Heritage centre did not cover Colliers Wood, but I didn't waste my time completely as I called in on a shop about half a mile from Genner's, AW cycles, originally Walklings.
I met the current owner, Ted Foster, and his assistant Richard Smith. Richard still rides his Dan Genner every day, although all that is left of the original is the frame.
Richard, at Walklings, was a Saturday boy there back in the mid-fifties (as I was At Genner's). He told me that Genner's frames were made by a Ted Jennings, who also made frames for Wakefields and Ernie Chambers. These two makes seem to have gone off the radar, although I can remember Wakefields shop near Tooting Junction Station. It is possible that when I show Richard the list of Classic Frame builders and Readers Bikes listed on the "Classic Lightweights" website, he may well be able to add to the list of frames made by Ted Jennings.
The odd thing is that nobody seems to know anything about Walklings Cycles. The business was started in the early 1900's. Alfred Walkling retired and sold out to the present owners father in 1954. His son, Ted, is still running the business, at it's original premises and I attach a photograph of his workshop at the rear of the shop - it is an absolute time warp! They even have a stoving oven (photo right), large enough for a tandem frame, and apparently they also had a small factory in Grove Road, Merton where frames were constructed. The oven is about 8 feet square and 6 feet high and is now just used as a storage area. They still have some old unpainted frames hanging up in the ceiling, having found the hand-built bike business unprofitable during the 70's.
Richard used to run errands between Walklings and Genners, they tended to "scratch each other's backs" and I do wonder if Walklings sprayed and stoved Genner's frames. Walklings seems to me to have been quite a big player in the 30's, 40's and 50's. They even had their own cycle club, the Merton Wheelers. There are references on the internet to them taking part in Cycle Polo matches in 1930 and every year they would have a dinner and dance at the Dog and Fox in Wimbledon Village. The present owner of Walklings, Ted Foster, even produced from under his counter the "Clubman of the Year" trophy. It is a plaque, made from a foot square slab of marble (see left), showing a cycle wheel with a shield with "MW" incised in it. Apparently one of the club members worked at the local Funeral directors and monumental masons, which explains the origins of the trophy!
Richard seemed to think that there was no connection between Excelite/Excel of Woolwich and Dan Genner of Colliers Wood but I have been shown a head stock badge on Eric Cole's Dan Genner which shows the two addresses.
Chas Donnelly has unearthed a 1937 Walkling catalogue which can be viewed at:
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