The Folding Society

Reception at the Brompton factory 29 April 1999

I expect you all know that Brompton moved to new premises at Brentford a few months ago. Today, 29th April, they held a reception at the new factory to celebrate the move. Those invited included dealers, suppliers, shareholders and a cross section of their more enthusiastic end-users, including journalists.

The day did not start too well for me - a train breakdown delayed my arrival in London, and the ride from Euston to Brentford was not particularly enjoyable. However, the rest of the day was really excellent.

{Brompton flag}Although a map of how to get to the factory was provided, I managed to take a wrong turning and cycle a few extra miles on the way there. Once in the Kew Bridge Distribution Centre the factory was quite easy to find, with a prominent sign, and at least on this day a Brompton flag flying.

{Entrance}With a large number of visitors expected, the goods delivery entrance into the factory itself had been opened, rather than everyone having to pass through the normal reception area. On arrival for the event we were handed badges and a commemorative key ring, before being directed to the area where drinks were being served.
{Queens awrd} {Key ring}

{Alex Henshaw}The factory is extremely spacious and light, with lots of room for future expansion - this space proving useful for food and drink on this occasion - there was also live music being provided by a trio. Many familiar faces from the world of folding cycles were to be seen, and one very new face, that of Alex Henshaw.

{Assembly}The main area of the factory is open plan - a standard warehouse type unit - so all the manufacturing facilities were on display. Stock seems well laid out and controlled - for example, some old replacement parts are available as well as new materials, but not in quantities to distress 'just in time' practitioners such as myself. The whole work area is very clean, and all the work stations were neatly laid out. {Work station}

{Alex Moulton}Rounding a corner during my trip around the factory I encountered Dr Alex Moulton, who was one of the invited guests - other notable names associated with manufacture of cycles who were there included Mark Bickerton and Mark Sanders (Strida).

{History}As well as displays of new bikes, there were also some very early examples on show.

{Speech}Before eating, a brief speech was given by Andrew Richey, giving some background on the past of the bicycle and the company, current activities, and a general indication of the future. Andrew Richey included tributes to Alex Moulton and Harry Bickerton for their pioneering work which had increased the acceptability and interest in small wheels and portability. He explained that changes being introduced with the move to the new factory tend to be more associated with how the bikes are made than the basic design, and some new manufacturing machinery will be introduced very shortly to aid activities such as brazing of frames. Although Andrew Richey made it very clear that development of the bike will be continuing, he gave little in the way of clues of new models - no mention of a 7-speed for example, though his praise of Sturmey-Archer may offer some clues. He did indicate though that volumes are increasing now to the point where it becomes economic for component manufacturers to make components specifically for Brompton, and this is likely to result in higher specifications of components becoming available on the Brompton in the future.

{Music}The event was enhanced by live music ...

{short description of image}...including a performance by The Folding Society's John Mills, recently returned from a trip to Australia.

{Food & Drink}As you can see from the picture, there was plenty of space for eating and drinking, and plenty of food and LOTS of wine! Fortunately The Ferret took most of the photographs before imbibing, otherwise camera shake could have been a serious problem. This is an event which we should have asked Mr Portly to describe..

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Last updated: 9 May 1999