|The VeloBase.com History of A.S. Gillott
From Classic Rendezvous:
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.
Gillott frames universally feature a very high quality of build with a refined sense of aesthetics. Quality, not quantity (there was never piecework) nor extravagance. The classic 'Spear' lug cut is the most popular, combining elegance and restraint. The 'Fleur de Lis' was in demand and endured into the 1960's. The rarest lug cut is the 'Curly cut', only 2 frames known to exist. The lugless 'L'Atlantique' is justly famous and Gillott's are well known for their use of taper tubes and beautifully curved forks . As most employees were racing men this informed the frames' design, angles, fork rake etc. Gillott's specialized in race, time trial, track and sporty clubmen's' lightweights. 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. Any enquiries can be addressed to me via the List master.
Mark Stevens, Gillott Marque Enthusiast, Veteran Cycle Club, UK