What interest there would be if we held a Carpenter ride based near Kingston where the shop had been in post-war years? Maybe some neglected steeds would be dragged out from the back of a shed, dusted down, oiled, and pressed back into action?
We met up on a gloriously sunny morning by the Thames at Shepperton Lock at the Thames Court pub, which has the oh-so-essential big car park. 6 Carpenters arrived. A pretty representative cross section!
Peter Kennish has owned his from new in 1959, it’s race proven with mixed-date components that speak volumes for a bike that’s been in long-term use. John Goddard’s sported a quietly ticking SA AM hub. Jean-Paul Burch and Greg Folwell had an Olympic Massed Start and a Super Clubman both in excellent condition. I used a Supalite Special, my brother John his Clubman, both fixed. Our wives joined us on their favourite (non-Carpenter) steeds, Francis Thurmer shamed us with his long ride from High Wycombe on an unrestored Ken Ryall. Don Clarke was using a Stuart Purves in immaculate original condition. Then just as we were getting acquainted, an unexpected bonus – Bob Johnson showed up with his Cicli Artigianali group having just finished their ride to Windsor. Bob knew of my meticulously planned route and determined to rescue us from such folly. What a gent!
Our peleton was led out by Bob with his sumptuously finished Cinelli. Instead of a bumpy, crowded towpath ride to Hampton Court bridge he guided us on quiet roads, part of Wiggo’s 2012 TT route. Next Geoff Nagle took over (on a superb shocking pink single-speed Holdsworth, a Cyclone I suspect). The sun broke through, the day was warm, who could ask for more as we breezed along a good surface to Kingston bridge, rattled over – oh, maybe 20m – of Roubaix cobbles, onward to Teddington Lock. Geoff paced us to Richmond Park’s Ham Gate before he peeled off, job done. Thanks Geoff! The climbers had been delivered to the mountainous ascent to Queens Road. Over the summit the whole bunch were still together. Only the bravest committed fully to the heart-stopping descent by Isabella Plantation, slowing only to give way to the occasional family out with balance bikes and buggies. We swept left and got to our feed station near Roehampton Gate. Funny how cycling seems to go with tea, sandwiches and cakes.
At this point Don Clarke took over. He’s local, knows the roads. Off he went, legs pumping rhythmically. You could tell by the way the peleton stretched out that the pace had gone up.
Pretty soon we reached our goal – the shop at 52 Surbiton Road where the bikes had been built. Now it’s an estate agent, such is progress. All the same, it was a good excuse to stop, catch our breath, line up the bikes outside and imagine what it must have been like once. Don wasn’t content with that though. We visited the site of the old Surbiton track (now built over), a house where ordinaries were built, the Angel Inn at Thames Ditton – a real treat of a trip back into the history of bikes.
The towpath to Walton Bridge was indeed bumpy and crowded, just as Bob had predicted. John hastily fixed a broken chain at Sunbury Lock (where was the neutral service??), then we were at the bridge for.. more tea! Shepperton was just round the corner and nobody had been dropped. Result!
What a great social ride, made much much better by the generous guidance of Bob, Geoff then Don. A perfect day out, new friends, new contacts. It doesn’t get better than that. If anyone is interested in future Carpenter rides, just get in touch.
Jean-Paul Burch 1962 #5371, (Olympic Massed Start)
Peter Kennish 1959 #5201 (His club bike since new)
Greg Folwell 1952 #4718 (Super Clubman? Very brown)
John Goddard 1951 #4571 (SA Speed Ace, AW hub)
Peter Bedingfield 1949 #4296 (Supalite Special, fixed)
John Bedingfield 1948 #4216 (Super Clubman, fixed – in family from new)
Francis Thurmer 1982 Ken Ryall with original finish
Don Clarke 1957 Stuart Purves, original finish
Sonia Bedingfield 1982 Falcon Ladies frame. Black Diamond says Francis.
Janet Bedingfield MTB of unknown heritage, with hybrid wheels.
Our lead-out team:
Bob Johnson Cinelli. All chrome frame. Gorgeous.
Geoff Nagle Holdsworth. Cyclone? Very pretty. Single speed.