jrsbike wrote:As the OP I wish to thank the contributors for their insightful comments. ....
In spite of some crossfire I think your query struck a chord with many on here. The "bike of your dreams" to mark a special occasion has been the subject of a few threads on here. My own special occasions were first, in 1980, when I had a pay rise beyond my wildest dreams and went to Jackson's and then in 1998 when I had just retired and went to Woodrupps for another. If I mention that I've also benefited from the expertise of Ellis Briggs, Chris Marshall and his former gaffer, Jonny Mapplebeck at Pennine Cycles, it only illustrates that this bit of the World - West Yorkshire - has been the home to a significant surviving chunk of the lightweight bike trade.
Having said that, the bike trade like the rest of the world has moved on. In 1980, I went for what then seemed to be the gold standard: Campag. I made the mistake of eschewing what seemed like the fads of 6 speed freewheels and 700C wheels. I spent a lot of time and money on subsequent modifications. By 1998 I'd learnt my lesson and was ready to embrace the latest thing. Now, it's back to double clangers, there seems to be no limit in sight to the eventual number of rear sprockets and carbon fibre seems to have heralded the arrival of the disposable bike. Brucey has put a lot more detail about these changes.
All the best with this and if you need more info about specific builders, there'll be somebody on here who's a local. I need binocculars to make out the detail but I can see Jackson's out of my back bedroom windows and Woodrupp's is only just out of sight in the valley beyond.