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Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Visit to Pashley HQ...

Last week. I could barely contain my excitement as the bloke and I made the journey from 'The Smoke' to Stratford Upon Avon, home of my beloved Pashley bikes and some bloke called William Shakespeare, apparently...
Why, you might ask, was I making this pilgrimage? Well, I was taking up Pashley's very kind invitation of a tour of my favourite bike-maker's factory. Not only was I going to get to see how Pashleys are made, but I was to be treated to an inside look at their new range of accessories and attire The Pashley Collection. More about that next week - far too many pictures for one post!
In my excitement, we arrived a bit earlier than agreed at Pashley HQ, a small factory just outside the centre of Stratford Upon Avon.  We were warmly greeted by Adrian Williams (above), the company's CEO. Adrian had to dash off to do some very important things, but left us in the capable hands of John Conod, (below) who handles a lot of the sales & marketing for Pashley, although as I was to find out, the tiny front office team muck in with pretty much everything. I don't know how you imagine Pashley HQ to be, but there certainly isn't a trendy-specs wearing marketing team or anything like that. 
John - flanked by 2 of the many pictures of bicycles at Pashley
After a cup of tea, John took us on a fantastic tour of the Pashley factory, where we got to see my beloved Pashleys being born, I literally almost exploded with excitement at this point, Steve had to ask me to stop shreiking... As Adrian later reminded us, Pashley are one of only three bicycle makers in the UK. Nearly every part of the bikes are made in the Stratford Upon Avon factory or by local specialist tradesmen. I was so excited to see each step of the bike's creation from parts to gleaming painted frames.

Ooh., some good news, as we all know one of the most frustrating things about ordering a Pashley is the wait until your beauty arrives, but thanks to improvements in the manufacturing process and a fantastic team, the times are down from up to six weeks to three for most.
Strange but exciting to see the bare bones of my beloved Pashley's
Nice bit of flame action at the jig! I wasn't allowed to look directly at it, its that
hot. Of course, its me so as soon as I was told that, I couldn't take my eyes of it...
I thought the hearth looked very romantic...
I quite like the look of the unfinished frames
Jeremy at the shot blaster.
Pete at the paint bay
Sam 'facing' a bottom bracket
After finishing our tour we paid a visit to the showroom where we got to see every current Pashley bike (plus a few rarities, I might add…) 
I've never mentioned this before, but Steve has always professed his indifference to cycling and prior to our little trip couldn't quite see what all the fuss was about. I know right! Bloomin' cheek! You will notice though how taken he is by this beauty and since then he's been making enquiries. He's now struggling to choose between the Roadster and the parabike! My vote goes to the Roadster.
All boxed up and ready to make someones day.
The view from the back of the office... stunning I know!
After the workshop and showroom, we caught up again with Adrian, who very kindly gave up his time to tell us how he became involved with the company and the ideas behind his vision. A modest, self-deprecative guy, Adrian is a very clever fellow with a background in aerospace engineering. However, what impressed me most was his passion for making things in Britain and his commitment to making the best bikes his company can. Adrian's involvement with Pashley began in no small part because of a long bike ride he made with a friend where he remembered just how much fun cycling is. By this time Adrian had left his job and was looking to start his own business and Pashley came along at just the right time, it was fate. Another of the things that impresses me and really impressed the boy is their commitment to simply making high quality, traditional bikes that have the features that we all love - no cutting corners here! Also, it's wonderful to see thats Pashley are committed to taking on young, local apprentices and several of them have turned out to be rather good - got to see a few students and trainees in action which was lovely. 

As a lovely surprise, Adrian shows us some items from the archive. An original ledger book from 1936 and some of their vintage adverts which really was a treat, i was so worried i'd damage it somehow that I didn't actually touch anything. Due to my constant clumsiness, im rarely asked to hold breakables and I've learned to never, ever touch glass display, ever (again) - long story (ies)
will definitely blog about my visit with the beautiful Chloe who handles The Pashley Collection next week - it deserves it's very own post. Here though is a picture of my new lust obsession - I'm planning to purchase one of these Tweed badboys as i type! Finally a jacket with reflective strips that doesn't look like i'm off on the Tour de France.

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