Thursday, May 24, 2007

Holdsworth Italia

Tom Bricklebank gave me this frame in 2004, and being too small for me, after a couple of months it found its way into Rick Woodward's garage.
With Rick's imminent emigration to the South Island, it is now in the possession of Chris Tennent-Brown.

I sent some photos to Holdsworth expert Norman Kilgariff, whose Holdsworth website is an invaluable resource. Norman identified the frame as a 'special', built by Reg Collard.

More photos of the frame at Wool Jersey.

Norman's letter is reproduced in edited form below:

Holdsworth Italia 28259

I believe this is a mid-late 1963, possibly early 1964 Italia, built by the great Reg Collard in the shop at 132 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London.


Holdsworth, strictly the Holdsworthy Co Ltd (factory and wholesale side) brought out the first Italia in 1955. This short-lived model was fillet brazed and took over from the La Quelda.

Early in 1957, with the Suez crisis, petrol rationing etc under way there was a bust up at the factory and various folk left, including their “Special Builds” man Reg Collard.

Roy Thame said that Holdsworthy had progressed to a stage where they had a fixed range of frames and were no longer prepared to build to special requirements.
The W.F Holdsworth shops were still being asked for Specials, so Roy Thame approached Reg Collard in 1958, to set up a custom build facility at 132 Lower Richmond Rd .

------------------- Quote from Reg Collard Nov 2002 -----------------------------

1957: I joined Jensen Cycles Croydon immediately after leaving Holdsworthy. They were owned by Stan Etherington and John ?? Can’t remember his name. Stan had been a good track rider of the Herne Hill school. Hence we mainly built track frames plus a few road bikes as at this time the Crystal Palace circuit races were held weekly.

John had previously worked in the aircraft industry and had learned a technique of low temperature brazing using boracic acid powder and low temperature brass. Excessive heat could weaken frames, in addition using borax meant frames did not require sandblasting before filing.

1958 I joined Roy Thame at W.F.Holdsworth to build custom frames at 132 Lower Richmond Rd.
When Roy Thame approached me to set up a custom build workshop at 132, I jumped at the opportunity. We had to get all the jigs etc. built by a local toolmaker. Together with these and oxyacetylene and oxygen cylinders we were in business. We already had a long list of orders.

Soon after the first frame was completed we had a visit from Sandy and Mrs Holdsworth. Great excitement! Orders came flooding and very soon there was around three months waiting list for a new frame.

I was building mainly road frames plus track frames, which doubled up as time trial bikes, most people raced T.Ts. on fixed wheel until the mid sixties. In addition we produced a limited number of touring frames with brazed on fittings for custom-built carriers and various other accessories.

Frame Design. When I first started building most frames had angles of 71 or 72 degrees 73 was thought to be steep, fork rakes was around an inch and three quarters, with long rear seat stays. In conjunction with the Hemel Hempstead Cycling Club and one or two top time trialists we started to experiment with road designs that were more like track frames.

We ended up with 74/73 for T.Ts. and 73 parallel for road. Usually square design i.e. seat and top tube were the same length. Forks were around an inch and a quarter, seat stays in proportion.

Lugs and Forks We modified Cinelli fork crowns and Prugnat lugs by adding reinforcements approx. two inches long; this also stiffened the frame particularly at the bottom bracket.

Seat Cluster: The wrap over seat stays were not solid, I devised a way of cutting the stays to the correct angle on a specially made jig and then brazing on plate before filing to finish ready to fit to the frame. These were then bent under heat over the seat lug and filed to look like a solid fitting. This saved around twelve ounces. It was not long before others were copying this. The allen key seat bolt came at the same time.

Brazed On Bits: I designed various custom made brazed on fittings. The rear brake cable bridge in the photo is an example. Various fittings for pannier attachments were handmade to match the panniers. If we could not find a suitable fitting we simply designed and made one or more by hand.

Some Key Frames in Design Evolution

A lot of work was completed in conjunction with the Hemel Hempstead Cycle Club and Warwick Dalton who rode both the Tour de France and The Worlds pursuit championship, in which if I remember correctly he was a medallist.
Warwick, Mike Shea, and Bob Addy were all over six feet tall in contrast Mick Brown and Alan Perkins were around five seven. The lug extensions were as a result of the need to stiffen up the big frames as the steeper angles exerted greater pressure at key points. The smaller frames had 75-degree seat angles to give the shorter riders a more efficient position.

My own frame built around 1961 is numbered 28034 if this helps give a fix on dates

1964 I joined Television Audience Measurement. I continued to work part time on specials until 1966/7.
*************************** End Quote ****************************************

Holdsworths are essentially numbered in sequence....
When Reg started doing the specials in 1958 the Factory issued the shop with a batch of frame numbers to use. How many were in each batch, how many batches were issued etc is not yet known, but at mid 1958 Holdsworthy would be at about #24000. So up until the shop started its own numbering system in 1965, we get shop builds with factory numbers, but these numbers will drift out of synch with the ones being applied by the factory (as much higher production levels)

One special build, said to be a copy of Anquetils (1959? from memory) TdF bike has surfaced, serial given is 25775 but first 2 digits are uncertain (damn), the owner says this was made late 1959 or early 1960. Memory drifts terribly, so we have to treat this data with caution.

Holdsworth Monsoon (factory) #26019 was bought 23 Dec 1959 (have copy of invoice) but we do not know how long it lay in stock. We expect c1500 Holdsworths per year, Freddie Grubbs* were numbered on a different system, Claud Butlers* are yet unclear 1959-64. Monsoon 26768 is said to have been bought late 1959, and was definitely used on a tour in summer 1960. I suspect it was bought early 1960. If Holdworths were at c26400 on 1 Jan 1960 we expect c 27,900 on 1 Jan 1961 so the 28,000’s should appear in 1961.

27988 Monsoon bought Spring? 1961
Reg Collard built his own frame around 1961 is numbered 28034. So this is a shop issued batch (of numbers).
Your own Italia is 28259 looks like it may be from the same batch
28425 Monsoon est 1960-61 by Hilary Stone (Cycling Plus 1995)

You see, we have 2 certain shop models sandwiched by 2 certain factory jobs (assuming Hilary ID’d the Monsoon right, trivial). It looks possible that the factory batch here is 28000 to 28300 But Reg was only producing c 2-3/wk, say 125 PA, so that’s about 2 years worth.

Around 1962 or 63 the factory restarted their serials. Indeed the highest number that I have gathered in the first system is the above Monsoon 28425. A 3 digit job 604 has surfaced, owner est c1963. It all gets a bit complex, but 1688 is a shop issue Italia, probably 1964.

Your Italia has Prugnat Type I lugs, fully sloping Prugnat crown.

We know Reg built it (not Tommy Quick [TCQ] or Charlie Roberts who probably started 1964 and did stock Italias) because of the big BB lug extensions, it is like a Reg trade mark. The big thick hollow seatstay wrapovers, Reg mentions above, have not started even in early 1965, so nor the allen key seatbolt. So this is a rare Italia, because it was made by Reg, it is a special build, later Italias were made for stock and so would not be made by Reg. TCQ, CR or Alec Bird would do them and maybe elsewhere. Stock serials have a K added at the end.

We know Holdsworthy went all Italian in 1963.
The Mistral appears with Prugnat I type lugs. The Grubb range goes all Italian too (see page on site). I know its complex, and this is just a small bit of it, but all taken together, its got to be a late 1963, possibly early 1964 shop Italia by Reg Collard. This will focus down in time, as more data surfaces.

The lovely wee WFH decal on the seatstay topeyes also has appeared on a Stock track frame.

Edward Albert 66118K (Shops own serial system, 66 start=1966, K= made for stock)

Norman Kilgariff (13/7/2004)

* Both the Freddy Grubb and Claud Butler brands were owned by Holdsworth at this time. DB

1 comment:

ames said...

Cool site!! I can now procrastinate my way through all your links ...fabulous!
Why did Mr Jungle move south?