A BRIEF HISTORY OF MERCIAN
The name Mercian Cycles relates to the ancient kingdom of Mercia.
The capital of Mercia was the picturesque village of Repton where Mercian kings are buried in St Wystan’s Church in the crypt dating back to the 7th Century. Mercian Cycles began as a cycle shop in London Road, Derby in 1946. Shortly afterwards Mercian frames were being built in a small workshop in Castle Street, off London Road.
The frame building unit moved to Bloomfield Street and Osmaston Mills followed by a move in the mid 1950’s to Ascot Drive Industrial Estate.
The Mercian shop in the 1950’s still evokes strong and happy memories amongst cyclists of Derby and beyond. Alan Gifford, life member of the Derby Mercury, remembers the shop being known locally as “Crowbars” (relating to the surnames of founders Tom Crowther and Lou Barker) and recalling the frame building workshop in the late forties. He wrote:
“You went in through a wicket gate in large double garage type doors. To us, as new enthusiasts, it was entering heaven - when we looked at the club bikes to be seen hanging in the workshop we knew we had to get one. There were all sorts of equipment hanging on the walls and we used to watch the careful filing of the lugs, to produce attractive designs, before they were assembled and brazed up as frame & forks”Alan Gifford
This photo was taken outside London Road Mercian shop in 1950, when members of the Mercury Cycling Club met for their run to Whitemeadows’ Youth Hostel. This event started the social season off.
Lou Barker can be seen in the doorway. Tom and Ethel always made cyclists of all clubs welcome in their shop, if only for a chat.
All the railway apprentices who were cycling enthusiasts made their way to the shop in their dinner breaks to ogle at equipment they would have to save up for. Eventually becoming experienced club cyclists and winning racing lads
1960's & 70's
In 1965 a larger purpose-built workshop was built on Pontefract Street, off Ascot Drive, Derby – where craftsmen of Mercian Cycles still hand-build and finish frames today continuing to use the traditional methods to create frames that are recognised worldwide for the quality of workmanship, accuracy of construction and beautiful long lasting finish.
The Mercian shop remained on London Road until 1971 when it moved to bigger premises at The Cavendish, Normanton.
To the left, 1966 adverts by Helms
At Mercian we are proud of the heritage, history and traditional frame-building methods still used today.
We keep frame records dating back to the 1970’s which are often referred back to, when owners want to trace the beginnings of their Mercian frame, as well as for subsequent frame orders for customers wanting exactly the same geometry and size that they have had before.
As the records aren’t computerised, we do ask for a £10 fee for a frame search. Another source of frame identification for frames earlier than the 1970’s is Chris Barbour’s Mercian register, where pictures may help you identify earlier frames CLICK HERE
In 1984, the Mercian shop moved to even bigger premises at Shardlow Road, Alvaston, where it remains today.
The transfer style was updated further in the late 1980’s to the new ‘block’ style.