Innovation in design — Brompton bikes creator to kick off Raleigh lecture series

The Raleigh factory in its heyday
16 Feb 2012 14:23:43.267

PA 52/12

The creator of the world-famous Brompton folding bike is to talk about the importance of innovation and creativity in product design when he delivers a public lecture at The University of Nottingham next week.

The talk by Andrew Ritchie, Technical Director and former Managing Director of Brompton Bicycles, will be kicking off a series of lectures organised to mark the 125th anniversary of Nottingham-based Raleigh, one of the world’s oldest bike companies.

Andrew Ritchie’s talk will take place on Tuesday February 21 at 5.30pm at the Exchange Building, Jubilee Campus — the site of Raleigh’s former iconic factory on Triumph Road in Nottingham, which continues to be a hub of innovation for the city.

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Mr Ritchie will deliver an entertaining talk on the development of the famous folding cycle, his innovative approach to design, to creating a company and what sets the company apart from its competitors in today’s marketplace.

His lecture will take the audience back to the early days when, having left university in 1968 with a degree in Engineering, he started out in the emerging field of computing before quickly realising he would prefer to be self employed.

Before long, he found his self working as a landscape gardener but a chance meeting with a backer of the fledgling Bickerton folding bicycle changed the course of his life.

Today, the hand-built Brompton has become a worldwide phenomenon and is used for long distance cycle tours as well as commuters. Its manufacturing base has remained in London.

The lecture series is one of a number of activities taking place as part of the Raleigh Bike Project, a joint community history project being undertaken by The University of Nottingham and community theatre group Hanby and Barrett. The project aims to bring together leading academics from the University’s Schools of Education, History, English and Computer Sciences and local communities to explore the history, heritage and legacy of Raleigh and bike manufacturing on the site of its Jubilee Campus.

Still to come in the lecture series is a talk on Tuesday February 28 about the evolution of cycling between 1868 to 1900 by bike historian Roger Lovell. The 40 years following the introduction of the bicycle into England was a great opportunity for manufacturers, entrepreneurs and inventors alike and the constant race to develop a better machine led to a wide range of new designs, although not all of them were commercially viable or an improvement on the current model. Mr Lovell will look at many of the unsuccessful attempts to produce the perfect bicycle and will illustrate his talk by bringing along an original Boneshaker.

Departing slightly from the lecture format, Tuesday March 6 will see a chaired discussion taking place involving former workers of the Raleigh factory during its heyday. The workers will be reminiscing about their time at The Raleigh from the 1950s onwards, working and playing inside and outside the factory walls — from the Press Shop to Finishing, via Pedal and Bar and The Lining Department. Those attending this fascinating discussion will hear tales of brazing, dancing, chargehands, Choppers and ‘doing a bit of javo’ and will be a living testament to Nottingham’s rich history.

The series will wrap up on Tuesday March 20 by looking at the global impact of Raleigh and asking what comes next for the famous company. Made in Nottingham, Raleigh bikes are ridden around the world. In 1902 his Highness the Kumar Rajah of Bobbili was proudly pictured with a Raleigh and by 1910 the company was exporting its bikes as far afield as Russia, Liberia, Tasmania, Armenia, Java, Trinidad, Nigeria, Argentina and Madagascar. Managing Directors of Raleigh International and Merida Cycles John McNaughtan and Tim Buxton will share stories of selling bikes across the planet — dealing with civil war, revolution and the impact of globalisation— and will think aloud to what the future brings for the company and the bicycle industry as a whole.

Launched earlier this month with a 1950s-style cycling proficiency event at local Southwold Primary School, the Raleigh Bike Project, will also see a bike-related film festival at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham on the weekend of March 10 and 11. 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.

Hanby and Barrett is currently developing a performance involving members of the public, many of them former Raleigh employees, looking at the 125 year history of the company 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.

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.

The lectures are open to the public and free of charge to attend. Seats at the Brompton folding bike talk must be booked through More information on the Raleigh Bike Project is available on the web from



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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is also the most popular university in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and ‘the world’s greenest university’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

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More information is available from Sally Bowden, on +44 (0)115 951 4593,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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