CYCLE enthusiasts will this weekend pay homage to the memory of Teesside bike maker, Jack Taylor.

The first Jack Taylor Weekend is taking place today, tomorrow and Monday with entrants encouraged to bring a pre-1988 bike in honour of the renowned Stockton bike builder.

Jack, along with his brothers Ken and Norman, began making bikes during the war and continued until 1990.

Jack and Norman have since passed on, but Ken still lives in Marton, Middlesbrough and will be present at the celebrations which take place in nearby Swainby.

Their skills were not only admired by cycling enthusiasts in this country, but also further afield, achieving legendary status in America.

Recalling the early days, stood chatting in his garage, surrounded by cycling memorabilia, Ken said: “We all rode bikes but when we started road racing no one was making the types of bikes needed. All the English cyclists rode a fixed wheel which wasn’t far removed from a Penny Farthing and we needed gears.

“When we started racing all we had was a three-speed Osgear from France made by a guy called Oscar Egg and we made the bikes to suit the gears.

“The main thing (about our bikes) was that they were made with Reynolds 531 tubing. We started during the war when you couldn’t get a lot of the stuff and the first lot of tubing we got from Reynolds was aircraft tubing and we made the bicycle frames with them.

“We had no expertise whatsoever. My two brothers were pattern makers and worked in wood, which they were very good at and I went to night school to learn how to weld because I hadn’t been educated at all at school as I left at 14.”

As time went on the brothers’ skills were finessed and they became much in demand.

“We used to go to the cycle shows at Earls Court with our racing bikes and touring bikes,” said Ken. “The cycling people used to write about us and the Americans starting coming over and buying our bikes and then wanted them shipping over.”

Cycling is very much back in vogue now and the business has changed beyond all recognition from what it was when the Taylors started out.

“Since we retired from making bicycles, the whole industry has mushroomed, increased and the style of bikes you have got now are totally different,” Ken said. “You have the local paperboy delivering papers on a bicycle with a 24-speed gear on – I rode the Brighton to Glasgow Victory Marathon in 1945 on a three-speed.”

Eric Harkins, along with John Parsons, helped organise the Jack Taylor Weekend.

“My interest in the Taylors stems back to when I was a boy,” Eric said. “I always admired the Taylor bicycles and frames, but I could never afford one.

“That was until later life and now I have got five, all different but all very good.

“The build quality, the paintwork and particularly the box lining – they are superb bikes to ride. You can tell they are made and crafted by people who have ridden bikes.”

While people are encouraged to bring retro bikes, Eric said the event was open to anyone.

“It’s basically a retro ride, but we just want people to enjoy the Taylor brothers legend and any bike is welcome,” he said.

“There hasn’t been anything like this before honouring the Taylors. I think it’s important and especially in this area where Ken still lives and the brothers grew up and produced the bikes for a good 50 years plus. It is nice to remember people like that.”

The the three rides total 20, 24 and 29 miles respectively, with Saturday and Monday’s starting and finishing aptly at the Rusty Bike Cafe. Sunday’s ride starts and finishes at Swainby Showground and will form part of the village’s Classic Car Show.

Ken said he was looking forward to this weekend’s event.

“It’s a pity my two brothers are not here, because they would have enjoyed riding in it,” he said.

  • To register for the ride or for more details contact Eric at or 07527744463 or 01642-710569.