Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
billco
Posts: 12
Joined: 1 Jun 2017, 5:08pm

Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby billco » 1 Jun 2017, 5:25pm

I am trying to collect any information about Clifton cycle frames. I would be interested to hear about any Clifton frame, if possible with build year, frame number and head badge address. They were a quality frame built by Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. The business was run by brothers Bill and George Hewitt from the mid 1940’s up to around 1982 (no known connection with Hewitt Cycles of Leyland). In the 1960’s, as a result of work on the Mersey Tunnel approach roads, the shop/workshop was relocated from the Birkenhead Haymarket to 18 Grange Mount Birkenhead. Before the Hewitt brothers took over, Clifton Cycles (in earlier days known as Boro Cycles) had been building Clifton frames in Birkenhead possibly as far back as 1898. However, the earliest Clifton cycle frame I know of is one built by Hewitt brothers around 1948 (it’s in my garage). This was previously used to great success in time trials by the late John Futter of the Anfield Bicycle Club in the 1950’s. Many local racing men used Cliftons at that time. Now, even locally, the Clifton cycle frame seems to have almost disappeared into obscurity. The extensive on-line library of the Veteran-Cycle Club contains no reference to Clifton Cycles, Boro Cycles or Hewitt Brothers, although there is some information on the Merseyside Bicycles web site.
I would be interested in any information to add to the above, or any Clifton related anecdotes. Do you have a Clifton rust-bucket in the shed you are about to take to the tip? Any information would be most welcome.

velomanmike
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 8:05pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby velomanmike » 14 Oct 2018, 8:13pm

IO have recently acquired a Clifton Bike off an estate.
The bike was previously owned by Alan Bibby who's name is engraved on the stem.
I'm also seeking info to date the bike.
I still work at Marriott Motorcycles around the corner from the frame builders address
Please see the images below.
Image Attachments
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billco
Posts: 12
Joined: 1 Jun 2017, 5:08pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby billco » 15 Oct 2018, 1:13pm

Thanks for the reply. As your frame has the '18 Grange Mount' address on the head badge it will most likely be from the 1960's / 70's, possibly as late as 1982. However, your frame appears to have Campag 'Long ends', so without other close pics I would guess the date to be no later than about 1975. Note that Hewitt Bros. did do resprays of earlier frames which will originally have had the 'Haymarket' address on the badge, and will then have '18 Grange Mount' on the badge. If you have the frame number(s) I may be able to narrow the date down a bit. Numbers appear either on the rear frame end or under the bottom bracket, or both. Also a pic of the bottom bracket and the head tube lugs would help. Regards.

velomanmike
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 8:05pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby velomanmike » 4 Aug 2019, 7:07pm

Good Evening,

Sorry this has taken sooo long to get back.
I have had a million other projects and commitments that have kept me distracted.
Here are some other photos of my Clifton.
Any idea of its date and value?
Who is/was Alan Bibby...Engraved on handlebar stem?

All the best,
Mike
Image Attachments
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IMG_2479.JPG
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billco
Posts: 12
Joined: 1 Jun 2017, 5:08pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby billco » 6 Aug 2019, 6:20pm

Hello Mike. My initial intention was to collect information, but due to the ‘high volume’ of replies I’ll have to settle for providing information instead, which is OK.
Clifton frame numbering is problematic, possibly due to the fact that the Hewitts were known to occasionally buy frames in and badge them up as Cliftons, perhaps just in busy periods. This may be the reason why the Clifton is not considered a ‘Classic’ in the accepted sense. I am fairly certain the Hewitt brothers did not employ an in-house frame builder, so they fitted-in frame building themselves while running the shop. This would have been more difficult in later years when George ran the business on his own.
Regarding frame numbering, I do know of two frames built by the Hewitts in 1963 which had the frame number format DMYY known for certain to be at or near the actual frame build date. I can’t see the whole number from your photo, but it ends ‘75’ which seems a likely date, so perhaps that format holds good. Without that I would have guessed 1966 or later for your frame. The ‘72’ number visible on the seat lug on your frame is just the seat tube angle.
Regarding the owners name on the frame, I have tried in the past to get information about individual clubmen without success, perhaps quite rightly.
Regarding value, to be honest the condition isn’t good, and as often happens it has been ‘updated’ with budget components. I do buy old Cliftons as a personal interest, but sadly £25 would be my limit in this case. I hope this is not too disappointing, although the information above may be of interest. Regards.

velomanmike
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 8:05pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby velomanmike » 7 Aug 2019, 7:19pm

Hello again,

Thanks so much for your valued information regarding my Clifton.
The Merseyside area certainly did have an amazing amount of frame builders.
I have been reading a cycle chat thread regarding Eddie and Jim Soens with fantastic input by Bill Soens.
It has sparked an interest in me to seek further information...a hobby... perhaps... a sickness...most definitely!
Better than watching flamin Coronation Street with the wife anyway!
Can I be cheeky and ask if you can share any of your information gathered with me regarding the Hewitt Brothers and 'The Clifton'
I'm eager to learn more about this, not for any commercial or personal gain...just curiosity!
My email is m.callister@outlook.com

billco
Posts: 12
Joined: 1 Jun 2017, 5:08pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby billco » 8 Aug 2019, 5:43pm

I have helped you all I reasonably can Mike. If you are really interested in cycle history, the Veteran-Cycle Club comes highly recommended. The annual subs are £25-£30. They do local Sunday rides. A bit slow for some, but good company and the bikes are interesting. You get two magazines - 'The Boneshaker' containing interesting well written well researched articles, and 'News & Views' which contains mainly event reports, items wanted or for sale and readers letters. The V-CC also have a wonderful online library and contactable 'Marque Enthusiasts' who are experts on a particular frame or other bike related item. If all else fails, you can send a letter to be published in 'News & Views' asking for information. Any replies from other members are published in a subsequent edition of the magazine, to the benefit of you and I, and all other members. This really is your best course of action. I hope this helps.

velomanmike
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 8:05pm

Re: Clifton Cycles of Birkenhead. Information request.

Postby velomanmike » 8 Aug 2019, 8:18pm

Good Evening Billco,

Thanks very much for all the advice and information.
I'm hooked now, and am certainly hungry for more information.
I remember as a kid we used to cycle to lots of local biker shops and stare through the non shuttered windows in awe!

I'll probably crack on now and strip the bike down to the frame, clean this and see how I can improve / upgrade the bike to former glory without loosing the petina the years have given her.
A new paint job by C&G finishing would be nice however, I would hate to loose the gorgeous decals.

It is nice to learn of people who share a passion of local history involving bikes.
Personally I've been involved with two wheel transport all my life.
Even today, I'm the manager at another historic local business only this one involves engines...Marriott Motorcycles...just down the road from the old Alec Green shop...a stones throw from where my Clifton was made.
It is amazing how many cyclists are Motorcyclists too!

It would be amazing if there was a gathering of Merseyside Vintage bikes on a sunny Sunday at a classic local location.
An annual pilgrimage and a chance for people to see the amazing machinery those talented people produced locally.

All the best buddy,
Mike