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The Raleigh Cycle Co, Nottingham 1900: FRANK BOWDEN of Raleigh on the left The history of The Raleigh Cycle Co offers an excellent insight into the history of cycle manufacturing in Great Britain.And for those of us who collect ‘old black bikes’ Raleigh provided a wonderful supply and variety.Alex Moulton therefore built his own factory and started delivering Moultons to the trade in March 1963. ******************** Determining the Age of a Raleigh 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.
In 1951, Raleigh produced more than a million cycles.
But between 19, as increasingly prosperous consumers abandoned the cycle in favour of the car, cycle sales in the UK halved.
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.
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.A Raleigh Superbe is surely the most practical vintage bicycle to own and use on a regular basis.Comprehensive records of Raleigh frame numbers is another very useful factor: you can check the age of your Raleigh at the bottom of this page.During the Second World War (1939-45), Raleigh concentrated on munitions work.