Another day for you and me in Carradice

Jack travels over the Yorkshire moors to Nelson, Lancashire to visit one of the oldest and most venerable companies in British cycling. Cotton mill worker Wilf Carradice began producing his indestructible canvas saddlebags in the 1930s and in 2011 sales are booming. Owner and MD David Chadwick tells the story of a family business and we get a tour of the factory. For more history of Carradice, there is a good article over at Classic Lightweights.

This is the latest in a series of special features on British cycling manufacturers. Listen to previous features on Brooks saddles, Brompton folding bikes and Alex Moulton.

Some of Jack’s photographs from the factory are below.

  • Mike

    That’s a really nice piece, and it’s interesting that you raise the “Retro” issue about Carradice products at the end of the podcast.

    Having used their saddlebags for a good while as part of my commuting setup, they transcend the current vogue for things with a touch of vintage (like the Tweed Run, fine event that it is).

    I’m using a bike with an Easton carbon fibre fork, a Brooks leather saddle and a Carradice Nelson bag. Each of those things do their job extremely well. Just because something is an old design doesn’t mean it’s not the best design!

  • Bill G

    Lovely to hear both the sound of the machinery and the pride in the voice of the machinist.

    A very pertinent comment was about the cumulative impact of the closure of other firms in the area. Staff cannot move between firms to further their careers, the market is too small to support tool makers and wholesalers etc.

  • http://twitter.com/ubercurmudgeon Uber Curmudgeon

    A company that designs its products to last decades, and will fix them when they do eventually wear out? A boss who knows his employees, knows how they do their jobs, and knows his products literally inside out? Owners who haven’t sold out their name and heritage? I think I might cry.

    I guess being small, and catering to a niche, helps avoid the attention of corporate raiders, or the pressure to extract every last penny of short-term profit which having shareholders demands.

    BTW, Jack, if you rode from Sheffield to Nelson, you must have come close to the little village of Thurstonland, near Holmfirth.

    • Anonymous

      I can’t believe I missed Thurstonland. What an utter shambles. I vow to return one day. Maybe they’ll elect me Sheriff.

      At Carradice the ‘boss’ and the ‘owner’ are one and the same man: David Chadwick. He has a strong family commitment to the firm and the people who work there. And no shareholders or other investors (besides his wife). I think that accounts for a lot of what’s good about the company.

      Having said that, Brooks’s revival only really came when Selle Italia took them over and started marketing them properly. So it can work both ways.

  • Carl Leroy-Smith

    Great article on Carradice. The Hovis advert was filmed in Shaftsbury, Dorset, not Lancs. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/ridley-scotts-hovis-advert-is-voted-alltime-favourite-476424.html

  • http://twitter.com/vorsprungbike Jamie Andrews

    I got a patch kit, spare leather straps and duck cotton wax from Carradice of Nelson and gave my Super C it’s 20,000 mile service

    Pictures on my blog

    http://audaxing.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/carradice-care/

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