By: Robin Walker
Always expensive and
controversial, Silverlight frames sold very slowly and with very little
development until in 1957. The last few Silverlights were built by
Rotrax Cycles of Southampton from the middle of 1954 until around 1958.
were the brainchild of a keen cyclist, Les Cassell from the Isle of
Thanet in Kent.
The famous Silverlight frame with its cradled bottom bracket and cross
over seat stays was developed by Les during the later war years and in
mid-1945 a shop premises was located in Bristol.
The first Silverthan frames were produced late in 1945; Jack Denny came
and worked for Thanets in early 1946 and taught Ernie Janes how to
build frames. He was to be their main framebuilder until 1949. This was
followed in 1947 by the Silverlight frame which was said to be
based on aircraft design principals in that the bottom bracket was
suspended in a cradle in the same way that aero engines were.
early silver-soldered bottom brackets were not without problems however
and later frames used lugs to strengthen the joints.
Frame builders in later years included Frank Butterworth, John Hayles
and Dave Oliver. Virtually all the frames were custom built
and Les went to great pains
to satisfy customer’s requirements.
close-up of the Thanet head tube showing the lugwork, headbadge and the
letter 'T' incorporated in the fork crown.
A close-up of the lugged Thanet bottom-bracket showing the unit
suspended in a triangular cradle.
The letter 'T' is cut out twice in the lugwork just inside the seat and
A 1949 23" Thanet Silverthan with Sturmey Archer gear,
A very rare ladies Thanet Silverthan - 1947