The Raleigh Players bring Nottingham's bike factory back to life

31 May 2012 11:08:16.760


A cast of characters from the old Raleigh bike factory in Nottingham will be brought back to life in a major community theatre project to celebrate the firm’s 125th anniversary.

The theatrical extravaganza is called ‘A Lifetime Guarantee’ and tells the story of the factory that made the world-famous bicycle and the Nottingham people who worked there for generations.

The unique show marks the culmination of a series of public events organised by The Raleigh Project, a collaboration between The University of Nottingham and community theatre company Hanby & Barrett to celebrate the huge contribution of the world’s oldest bicycle company to the city’s heritage.

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Timetravelling by tandem

The cast includes former Raleigh workers, students from the Jubilee campus which now occupies the Triumph Road factory site, local school children and their families and other members of the wider Nottingham community. Lead actor and animateur, Julian Hanby said:

“It’s a lively show, full of films and fun and people from across the ages. Some of what you will see has never been seen before, and some of it will remind you of exactly what it was like to work there, whatever ‘Shop’ you were in (or Department to you non-Raleigh folk). It starts from the very beginning and runs right through to the very end, well of the factory anyway. And it’s jam packed with the kind of tiny details that made our bicycles so great. So if you’re interested in the history of where you live or are someone who likes cycling; someone who remembers cleaning their childhood bike or, of course, someone who used to work (and play) at ‘The Raleigh’ you’re more than welcome. Pop on your cycle clips and come and join us.”

Playhouse highlight

‘A Lifetime Guarantee’ is being staged in six different venues in Nottingham including the Nottingham Playhouse Studio on Monday June 11 at 7.30pm. The final two performances will take place at a Celebrate Cycling Family Fun Day at the Jubilee Campus on Saturday June 16 from 11am. As well as watching the play which also includes video clips, visitors can play cycle polo, get free bicycle tuning, watch films and a vintage bike exhibition, play with pedal-powered water pistols and even enjoy a pedal-powered smoothie.

Professor Pat Thomson from the University’s Centre for Advanced Studies which helped to create The Raleigh Project said: “We’ve been very pleased and proud to help celebrate this significant anniversary of one of the city’s most famous industries. Our Raleigh lecture series over the past few months was very well received and the community play and Fun Day at Jubilee will be a fitting culmination to the public celebration of this vital part of Nottingham’s rich heritage.”

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 have collaborated again to celebrate our landmark anniversary year.”    

The performance dates and venues for The Raleigh Players’ ‘A Lifetime Guarantee’ are:

  • Wednesday 30th May   7:30pm

Barton House, 61, High Road, Chilwell NG9 4AJ

  • Thursday 7th June   7:30pm

St John's Church Hall, Graylands Road, Bilborough NG8 4FD

  • Saturday 9th June   7:30pm

St Mary's Church Hall, Church Lane, Arnold NG5 8HJ

  • Monday 11th June   7:30pm

Nottingham Playhouse Studio (Playroom), Wellington Circus, Nottingham NG1 5AF

  • Thursday 14th June   7:30pm

St Mary's Church Hall

Church Road, Greasley, near Eastwood NG16 3HT

  • Saturday 16th June 12   noon and 3:00pm

Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham

All of the shows are free and no tickets are required with the exception of the Nottingham Playhouse show on Mon 11th June, for which you need tickets.

They are available from the Nottingham Playhouse box office priced £2.50 on 0115 941 9419 or go online to book at

Story credits

 More information is available from Julian Hanby,

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