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After the war, despite shortages of fuel and steel, Raleigh’s cycle production rose rapidly.
By 1949, it had reached about 750,000, the majority of which was exported.
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In March 1964, Raleigh showed Moulton the prototype RSW16: an unsprung small-wheeled shopping bike that was well equipped, more robust and cheaper than the Moulton. 1960 – Raleigh and the Tube Investments Group (aka TI) merge, forming TI Raleigh. 1888-1925 Prior to 1925, genuine Raleighs (not necessarily brand names made by Raleigh) had a straightforward numerical frame number. (Info from the Nottinghamshire Archives) Note that the serial number information below is fragmentary and incomplete, and many bikes have proven to be much newer than the serial numbers would suggest.
It was unclear whether the RSW breached Moulton’s patents and in June 1964 Raleigh sought a production licence for the Moulton bicycle. It appears that Raleigh recycled many of the older serial numbers in later years, so there are lots of bikes from the 60s and 70s that have serial numbers that would suggest much greater age.
The new cycle, and the interest it created in cycling as a stylish, modern and practical mode of transport, had arrested the steep post-war decline in UK cycle sales. (Info from the Nottinghamshire Archives) 1947: 437689 P 1948: 556894 P 1949: 695051 P 1951: 151179 T 1952: 236530 T 1953: 367369 T 1954: 566722 T 1955: 747951 T 1956: 852312 T 1957: 872584 T 1955 – 1966 A new numbering system was introduced in 1955, though this ran concurrently with the old one for two years.
However, Raleigh was seeing little benefit, except from the Sturmey-Archer hubs it sold to Moulton. The new system involved a second running letter, added to the first, which began at the start of the alphabet.
In spring 1960 Raleigh, having stopped making quality lightweight cycles at Nottingham, bought Carlton Cycles, a respected hand-built racing cycle specialist company based nearby at Worksop.
Raleigh urgently needed to increase volume sales to the man and woman in the street.
The TI take-over followed a collaborative venture with Raleigh in South Africa.
In 1960, TI bought all Raleigh shares, then handed over the British Cycle Corporation to Raleigh management. Unfortunately, it was a market that was rapidly shrinking.
Therefore, in July 1965, Raleigh launched the RSW16 with an unprecedented £100,000 of publicity (= more than £1m today). The character began at the start of the alphabet, and indicated year of manufacture.
The RSW16 proved commercially successful, going into Mk II and Mk III versions and selling more than 100,000 units in its nine-year production run. 1946 – Factory increases to 28 acres – 5,000 Employees. Detail about the numerals that follow the alphabet are sketchy, and are presumably sequential serial numbers of some kind.
In 1951, Raleigh produced more than a million cycles.