Some of us will remember the Grafton Cycle Company. which used the shops at the bottom of a three storey building to the west of the North Western. In the 1950s they sold Raleigh and Phillips bikes and possibly some other brands and by this time they had also added a petrol pump with an arm that swung over the pavement to fill up cars and motor cycles which were at the time becoming more popular. At the time that I used to wheel in my bike for repairs or the replacement of an inner tube, Owen Holman was the man in charge, dressed in a grey smock. There was no floor covering and the floorboards, at the time close to 100 years old, were grey and worn with use and marked with rubber and oil.
The Grafton Cycle Company was the brainchild of three Stony Stratford businessmen, Messrs. Downing, Hall and Woollard, who opened up the first shop at Woollard’s premises on Church Street in 1895. Bicycles were relatively new at that date and a number of small companies had jumped into the manufacture of these new and popular machines. Among the brands that the Stony Stratford enterprise stocked were Singer, Rover, Globe and Premier – names that were extinct a generation later. The name of this new cycle business was almost certainly taken from the Duke of Grafton who lived nearby.
The new company was joined by Alfred Allen joined in 1899 and a year later the business was transferred to 16, High Street. The Wolverton branch was opened in 1908 and in 1919 the Stony Stratford shop moved to 33, High Street. Percy Judge managed the Wolverton branch from the outset. It was a long day, starting at 5:30 am and remaining open until after the end of the working day at 5:30 pm so that men employed at the Carriage Works could leave their cycles with him during their working day. He lived above the shop until 1958.
Owen Holman joined the business in 1934.
Alfred Allen took full control in the early 1920s and his two sons, Albert and Sidney, followed him in the business. They remained in partnership until Sid’s death in 1952. The Stony Stratford branch then closed at the retirement of Albert Allen at the age of 65. His co partner and brother in law, Fred Hewitt, who had managed the Stony Stratford shop, then transferred to the Wolverton branch.
The company moved into motor cycles during the next generation and closed a few years ago.