In 1946 Britain was celebrating the end of the second World War, life had changed dramatically for everyone. Men were returning from a war zone in Europe, many not wanting to return to their life before the war. This was certainly the case for Johnny Mapplebeck and his friend Geoff Whitaker. Having spent time in Italy during the war they had fallen in love with the Italian bicycle and not wanting to return to their old jobs they decided to open a bike shop in Bradford. So, in July 1946 Whitaker and Mapplebeck opened its doors for the first time.
After finding premises they began trading, creating both a retail shop and manufacturing bikes on the premises. To begin with their steel bikes were named Whitaker and Mapplebeck and in 1952 the shop began trading as Pennine Cycles. The handmade bikes were then known as Pennine. We continue to manufacture Pennine frames to this day.
Life in 1946
For those of us who were not around in post-war England, life was unrecognisable to the world we live in today. The British Prime Minister in 1946 was Clement Attlee who’s task was to lead the country back from a state of war. That same year he agreed to India’s Independence. Both the film A Wonderful Life and the book Animal Farm were released in 1946, items of pop-culture which most of us today have grown up being aware of. The average cost of a new house in Great Britain was £1459 and the bikini was first debuted in Paris!
After the conflict, cycling began to return to normal as many races were cancelled due to war-torn Europe. In the first World Championships after the war Hans Knecht won. Also in 1946 Gino Bartali (pictured below) was the winner of the Giro and Jean Lazarious won the Tour de France.
One of the reasons Whitaker and Mapplebeck got off to such a strong and successful beginning (the start of our bike shop legacy) was in 1946 bikes meant freedom. Bicycles were a means of transport which were affordable to the working man (and woman), most people wanted to ride a bike! Cars were certainly not the norm back then but cycling was.
It’s incredible to think of the great achievements of both Johnny and Geoff in those early days, they were pioneers in business and in the cycling trade. It can’t have been easy to set up a bike shop with limited finances and no prior experience but their passion and enthusiasm for cycling, outstanding customer service and their desire to help others were the foundations that were instilled into the Pennine Cycles brand, a culture which we are proud to say carries on to this day.
We have some great things planned to celebrate our 70th anniversary, to be the first to known join our cycling list by clicking here.