The last bicycle maker in the Midlands: ‘Our founder wanted small numbers and high quality. We’ve stuck rigidly to that.’

Tessa Waugh discovers why the company has stayed faithful to the first designs. Photograph by Richard Cannon.

Pashley bicycles are a rarity in a disposable society, in that they’re guaranteed to last and their durability is combined with serious good looks.

The business was established in 1926 at a time when Britain was producing cutting-edge bicycles made by companies based throughout the Midlands. Sadly, however, Pashley is the only one of these original manufacturers that still exists in the area – nowadays, 98% of bicycles sold in the UK are imported.

‘Our founder Rath Pashley made it his aim to produce small numbers of high-quality specialist cycles for consumers and business and we’ve stuck rigidly to that formula,’ explains managing director Adrian Williams, adding that the company has also stayed faithful to the first designs.

‘We try to keep with the original aesthetic. The frame parts are still made on the same manufacturing equipment, although the components have all been modernised.’

Pashley bicycles

Ed Woolley prepares a bike on the shop floor.

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Our main picture at the top shows assembler Ed Woolley adjusting the gear of a bicycle, with one of Pashley’s bestselling Britannia range in the background.

With models priced from £500 to £2,000, Pashley sells its cycles to all sorts of customers, including businesses such as the Royal Mail and the beauty brand L’Occitane, with 35% of bikes being exported. And, in 2016, it took over London’s fleet of Santander hire bikes (or ‘Boris bikes’).

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