Bill Hurlow 1921 – 2010
I have just received an email from John Hunt about the passing of Bill Hurlow, a great British framebuilder: I’m sorry to report that Bill died last Sunday 28/2/10 in Canterbury Hospital. He didn’t quite make 89. End of an era, I think the greatest British framebuilder, but I’m biased!. Every Hurlow frame was made by him and by nobody else. I have his medals and transfers to honour his memory. Though 25 years his junior I cycled 1000’s of miles with him and acted as his soigneur when he was still racing in the 90’s. A priviledge to have known him. Funeral; 9th March, Margate crematorium, 12.40pm.
Thanks John for passing on this very sad news. The following text is from the great website www.classiclightweights.co.uk
Bill Hurlow was born in 1921 and at the age of 14 joined F H Grubb cycles to train as a frame builder. In those days it was common for a newcomer of that age to be started with a back-room task such as filing lugs along with making the tea, sweeping up, doing the errands, etc. After a couple of years of this he went to Holdsworth, moving in 1940 to Claud Butler, but only for a month or so, before returning to Holdsworth. In 1942 he joined the Royal Engineers as an armourer. On leaving the army in 1946 he went back to work for Holdsworth. In 1951 F H Grubb went out of business and were acquired by Holdsworth so Bill was now building Grubbs at last but not for long as he left them in 1952 as the bottom had fallen out of their market. He became briefly involved in Paris Cycles at the time of their financial troubles in 1953 and did attempt unsuccessfully to bring them back into business but gave up when he realised the seriousness of their situation.
Bill set to and designed four elaborate sets of lugs: Condor took two of these whilst Mal Rees used the other two.
In 1954 he was working for Mal Rees where he built their top of the range Rameles (anagram of Mal Rees) using the lug designs mentioned above. He also built the Amersham and Chalfont models whilst Wally Green was employed to produce the cheaper Chiltern.
In The Condor Years Peter Whitfield says that B H also started work at Condor in 1954. He came up with a set of classic lug profiles for them, the Superbe and the No.1 with intricate scrollwork incorporating Fleur-de-lys curls. His No.2 and No.3 had spearpoints but were less elaborate and his Italia, as was the wont with other such named lugs, had a classic simple design beloved by road racers rather than time-triallists. Condor proudly advertised the fact that B H was building their machines, which was unheard of by any other cycle builder. It seems that Condor and Mal Rees were each content with the fact the Bill was working for both firms.
In 1958 B H parted company with Condor due to what could be best described as a personality clash. He started to build frames under his own name but did in fact also continue to supply Condor with frames until about 1968. He continued to produce frames under the name of Bill Hurlow for many years to come and to this day the Mal Rees ‘Rameles’, a Bill Hurlow top of the range Condor, or of course a Bill Hurlow frame is highly regarded by collectors of Classic Cycles.
Photographs by Mike Graves