On yer bike! University community project celebrates 125 years of Raleigh

The Raleigh factory in its heyday
08 Feb 2012 10:37:46.233
Youngsters at a Nottingham primary school will be getting on their bikes for a lesson in cycle safety, 1950s style.

The pupils at Southwold Primary School on Kennington Road, Radford, are to be put through their paces in a reconstruction of the first and original cycling proficiency test.

The event will kick off a series of activities as part of a project being led by The University of Nottingham and local community theatre group Hanby and Barrett to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Nottingham-based Raleigh, the world’s oldest bicycle company.
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Professor Christine Hall, Head of the University’s School of Education, who is among academics leading the project, said: “This year marks 125 years since Raleigh began trading in Nottingham and its name has since become synonymous with the city.

“We were delighted when Raleigh agreed to collaborate with us on a community history project to commemorate this very special occasion. The site of one of the company’s most important factories on Triumph Road is now home to our own Jubilee Campus and, as such, we feel that we have a very special relationship with the company and its roots in the City of Nottingham.”

Cycling safety

Pupils in years 3 to 6 at Southwold Primary School, based close to Raleigh’s former site on Triumph Road, will enjoy an afternoon of cycling-related activities on Thursday February 9, starting with a road safety quiz being run by Nottingham City Council.

Following this, children who have been able to bring their own bikes to school will attempt the original cycling proficiency test — which resulted in a report from a working party set up in 1958 by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation — under the direction of community theatre company Hanby and Barrett, who will be in the guise of 1950s cycle inspectors for the afternoon.

For other pupils, Hanby and Barrett will be running a session of fun games and activities based around the test and the hand signals it employs, as well as cycle maintenance and history.

Headteacher of Southwold Primary School Kate Clifford said: “We are very excited at being chosen as the partnership primary school in this project. It will be great for the children to learn more about the history of the area while at the same time taking part in some fun and enriching activities. We are hoping it will also encourage more children to bring their bikes to school in the future.”

History and heritage

The Raleigh project, which involves staff from the University’s Schools of Education, History, English and Computer Sciences, is aimed at engaging with the local community to celebrate the history and heritage of the company — everyone from local residents and former employees to students studying at the University’s Jubilee Campus.

Later this month will see the start of a Raleigh-based lecture series organised by the University’s Centre for Advanced Studies, which will be kicked off on February 21 by Andrew Ritchie, the creator of the Brompton folding bike, who will speak on innovation in industry. Cycling historian Roger Lovell will talk on the origins of the cycle industry on February 28, including a demonstration of some early examples of two wheeled transportation including an original Boneshaker. On March 6, former Raleigh employees who worked for the company from the 1950s through to the 1990s will speak about their experiences as part of a chaired discussion, while John MacNaughtan and Tim Buxton of Raleigh will round off the series on March 20 with a talk on the company’s international reach and future plans.

The weekend of March 10 and 11 will see a bike-related film festival at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. Alongside a programme of bike-related films, the cinema will be showing archive footage of Raleigh, screening an ATV series from the 1980s about the Raleigh workers, a Q+A session with former European 24 Hour Cycling champion Chris Hopkinson, displays of bikes and artefacts from the Nottingham Museum collection and on Sunday there will be a chance to make your own smoothie with pedal-power.

Reliving memories

Hanby and Barrett will also be creating a performance looking at the 125 year history of Raleigh and the experiences of the thousands of Nottingham men and women who worked there. The performance will tour venues across the city in May and June. Producer Julian Hanby said: “This is a great opportunity to work with members of the community and The University of Nottingham on an event that will celebrate the Jubilee Campus and its former use. It was once the most modern bicycle factory in the world and we hope that members of the public — including many former Raleigh employees — will visit the site for these events, and relive memories of past activity there.”

The events will culminate in a community open day at the University’s Jubilee Campus on Saturday June 16 featuring a range of fun, family activities including races, displays and an exhibition of Raleigh-related artefacts.

Raleigh’s story began in 1887 when Sir Frank Bowden bought an interest in a small bicycle shop based on Raleigh Street in the City of Nottingham. During its 125 year history, the company has become famous for its innovative bicycle designs, particularly the iconic children’s bikes the Burner, Grifter and Chopper. Despite moving from its factory from Triumph Road in the early 2000s — later to become home to The University of Nottingham's Jubilee Campus — the company has retained its strong links with Nottingham and the company's headquarters remains close by, just outside the city in Eastwood.

John Macnaughtan from Raleigh said “As the leading UK bike brand for 125 years, Raleigh shaped many of the engineering and processing practices seen in today's cycling industry. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s these practices were refined through studies carried out by a number of Nottingham University departments, narrowing the gap between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’, resulting in many new innovations and revolutionised working practices. Raleigh is proud of its long association with The University of Nottingham and we're pleased to be collaborating again in our landmark anniversary year.”

— Ends —

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Story credits

More information is available from Professor Christine Hall on + 44 (0)115 951 4440, christine.hall@nottingham.ac.uk; Julian Hanby at Hanby and Barrett, on 0115 9116971, hanby@me.com

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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