Readers remember Bill’s bike shop

Payments made by Derek Hayday for his �26-10/- cycle
Payments made by Derek Hayday for his �26-10/- cycle
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Bill Harvell’s cycle shop in Hilsea market opposite the News Centre brought back many memories for readers.

Derek Hayday tells me that Bill won a bronze medal in the 1932 LA Olympics in the 4,000m team pursuit.

A hire purchase card showing Bill's shop address

A hire purchase card showing Bill's shop address

Derek purchased his first Claude Butler cycle in 1955 for £26-10/-. Over the years Bill donated all his trophies to the local Portsmouth track at Alexandra Park.

Derek says he has got through 17 cycles and ridden over 40,000 miles up to July this year.

Bill Harvell died in 1985 aged 78. Keith Russell tells me that Bill was born in Aldershot and had another cycle shop in Shirley, Southampton.

It was the forerunner of the famed Rotrax Cycles.

Bill could often be seen in his favourite refreshment stops off Palmerston Road, The Apsley and The Auckland, with his cycle parked outside.

Keith has many memories from when he was a lad with his nose pressed against Bill’s shop window, ogling the exotic frames and cycle gear inside.

George Yalden tells me that he used to visit the shop in the early 1970s and Bill was a font of information for all young cyclists.

Bill was so well-known and a Portsmouth character. When he built you a cycle you knew there would be no trouble with it. It was like watching an artist or sculptor putting together a work of art.

Bill used to say that he belonged to one cycle club, Portsmouth North End, and that he was, at that time, the only member.

It was a privilege to have known the man and when he died a great cyclist man was lost to us all.

He would have really enjoyed hearing about the cycling gold medals won at the London Games.

PS I’ve received quite a bit of mail about local cyclist Tony Hoar and him competing in the Tour de France. I’ll be writing about this next week.