I remember as a little boy walking from my home at Southampton Way and Riddell Street to gaze at the wonderful bikes at this Gillott store at 177-181 Southampton Way. Mr. Gillott might have been one of the store personnel that took time to chat with me. You can see an invoice from 1952 to a Mr. K. W. Brash in far away Plymouth. There is a picture of the original store at 177-181 and a picture of the same today. These before and after pictures have me feeling nostalgic!!!
Here is a background on the Gillot Business. It mentions Edwardes Bicycles at 221 Camberwell Road. Edwardes is still there and my dad knew Mr. Edwardes the owner who gave me a pretty good discount on a new bike.
Arthur Gillott set up shop at 179 Southampton Way in 1921. He sold general ironmongery and bicycles called 'Hamptons'. These were bought in. Prior to owning the shop he was a stonemason. He employed Harry Carrington in 1929 who worked his way up to manager by 1939. Arthur Gillott had opened a second shop in Atlantic Avenue, Brixton. In the last months of WW2 Harry had foreseen the market for quality lightweights and arranged to have Jim Collier released from war work at Woolwich Arsenal. Jim had been a master builder at Hobbs of Barbican pre-war.
Frame building began in May 1945. The period of peak production was late '40's to early '50's. 5 Builders were at work including Ron Cooper who joined in 1947, tutored by Bill Philbrook and Len Hart. Len Truman and George Holt also built.
A few tandems were built and fewer trikes as well as machines for disabled riders. Their 'Alpine Tourist DeLuxe' was IMHO the closest any British builder came to the classic French style tourer. The attention to detail included a small plate with the frame number stamped on it brazed onto the head tube next to the badge. After all, who wants to turn a fully laden tourer upside down to satisfy a curious customs man? Gillott's never built for other suppliers, all frames being built to order except for the 'Continental' and a batch of lugless frames for stock.
Arthur Gillott died in 1955 aged 73. Harry sold the business to Edwardes of Camberwell in February 1963 and carried on as manager until 1966. Ron Cooper was still building Gillotts from the original shop until 1967. He left then and set up on his own in 1970. He concentrated on his own marque but some Gillotts were still ordered and built. The famous name is now owned by Mark Joynt of Omega Cycles.