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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.

Repton is situated a few miles South West of Derby. Mercian Cycles shop and workshop are located a mile apart in Alvaston, a suburb of Derby.
bike repton sign

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. 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 in the 1950's still evokes strong and happy memories amongst cyclists of Derby and beyond. Alan Gifford, life member of Derby Mercury, remembers the shop being known locally as "Crowbars" (relating to the surnames of founders Tom Crowther and Lou Barker) and recalls the frame building workshop in the late forties, early fifties. He wrote:

"You went in through a wicket gate in large double garage type doors. To us, as new enthusiasts, it was entering heaven - but 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 and forks". closing quote

Mercian, London Road shop in 1950

“I thought the enclosed photo might be of use to you. It 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. closing quote

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. closing quote

All the railway apprentices who were cycling enthusiasts made their way to the shop in their dinner breaks to ogle at equipment they could ill afford. Eventually becoming experienced club cyclists and winning racing lads.” closing quote

Letter accompanying photo above, received July 03, closing quote

The Mercian shop remained on London Road until 1971 when it moved to bigger premises at The Cavendish, Normanton. This was followed by a move in 1984 to even bigger premises at the present location - 7 Shardlow Road, Alvaston.

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.

Mercian Cycles have customers as far afield as Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Norway, Germany, Japan, Sweden, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Australia, Solomon Isles and New Zealand - to name just a few. As the head and seat crest says Mercian cycle frames can be found "The World Over".

The current "World Over" head and seat crest were introduced in the early / mid 1960's. 1966 Sporting Cyclist advert by Helms
1966 Sporting Cyclist advert by Helms

Early Mercian transfers were in a script style with the current "Gothic" style introduced in the early 1960's and "Block" style introduced later in the 1980's.

At the Mercian workshop we do have frame records dating back to the early 1970's. As the records aren't computerised we do ask a £10 charge for a frame search (we had to introduce this as ebay popularity meant we were spending hours searching for frame numbers!). Another source of frame identification for frames earlier than 1970's is Chris Barbour's Mercian register where pictures may help you identify earlier frames

or see the early catalogues linked at the top right of this page

7 Shardlow Road, Alvaston, Derby, Derbyshire, England, DE24 0JG. United Kingdom.
Telephone: (+44) 01332 752468. Email:
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