By Special Request

Back in 1957 well off textile businessman named Chris Hargreaves, fan of all sorts of outdoor sports, ordered a bicycle from Johnny Berry in Manchester. Berry´s was a shop you could not overlook when shopping around for a first class custom frame; there were rumors that he had even built a frame for Reg Harris early in his carreer. Both being members of the same cycle club must have helped. For certain American Audrey McElmury won a world championship on a Berry.

Bdttransfer

Anyway, around Easter 1958 the new bike was ready and taken to Pen-Y-Ghent in Yorkshire. Chris used it for some time, but it fell into disrepair after being taken to the US for touring by a grandson of his in 1981. Before that, in 1974, the venerable club machine had been turned into a racer by a female member of a nearby cycling club.

The bike, bereft of a number of parts, spent the next twenty plus years in the garage of Chris Hargreaves´ daughter before being sold to the late Ron Sant who was a great collector of Mancunian built bicycles. A few days after he got it I rang him asking for a specimen of North-Western cycle building art, and he was kind enough to pass the Berry on. I was over the moon.

Later in the year we had a family holiday in the Macclesfield area, collected the bike and took it for a number of rides. By pure chance I also acquired an old hack bike from a Glossop bike shop which became a donor for most of the parts needed to restore the Berry to its former glory. I also dropped in on the local Macclesfield bike shop to be given a 40 hole low flange steel centre Campag rear hub, just the thing I needed for the bike, and, given the rarity of such hubs and the proximity to where the bike had lived, who knows it might have been the original one.

Brearhub

BqropencGiven the fact that the paint of the frame is quite scratched and looks scruffy, the state of the hub and the open C q/r lever is OK.

I knew what the bike had looked like because Christine, Chris´ daughter, had given me some photos from her family album showing quite well what the first equipment of the bike was.

There is the typical mix of British and Continental parts you would find on a high-class cycle of the late fifties: Reynolds tubes, Nervex lugs, Stronglight cranks with TA chainrings, Mafac brake calipers with Universal levers, a Brooks saddle, Campag derailleurs and hubs.

Although the frame is quite a bit too small for me it still is one of my favourites. I have ridden it in a number of events, and for fun.

Bbb Bcablestop BchainsetI don´t kno what it says on the extension, but the brass badge looks nice. Again, the same grade of patina as the rest of the bike.

BextensThe first owner specified Nervex Pro lugs – Berry built frames with other lugs at that time, too.

Bforkcrbottomheadl Bftchanger BfthubqrdoBheadbBpedalBrearbk Brearchanger BreardoBsaddle Bseatttransf BwrapoverAll in all, a great bike and definitively one I feel privileged to own.

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One Trackback

  1. By Fashion Blog Post « starostneradost on January 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    […] the placet by the Berry family. I really needed to have one as Berry is my favourite frame maker (https://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/by-special-request/), together with Ellis Briggs, M-Gineering and a few also ran – […]

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