|Thanks to all contributors, especially
Dick Brodrick, Peter Duncan, Bill Hurlow, Terry Savage, Nigel Land &
Frederick Henry Grubb (b 27 May 1887) showed such riding ability that one writer in 1910 wrote "Since August Bank Holiday he has been the most talked-of cyclist in Great Britain...and it is safe to say that no man since Harry Green has shown more brilliant promise". He was a member of the Vegetarian Cycle & Athletic Club. A clubmate Peter Duncan says "Nobody called him Freddie, that came later, it was always Fred" (Bill Hurlow confirms this). This pic is 1907-1913 after a record attempt. He has no brakes, traffic was so light he saw no need for them. The pavement looks smoother than the road. In 1910 he did an unpaced, out & home competition 100 mile tt in under 5 hrs, dressed like this on such a bike.
In 1911 he set a new 12 hr record "...what a ride that was! the Anerley course in those days ran out at 210.25 miles and some hurried improvisations were necessary to provide 220.5 miles for Grubb and 215.5 for CF Davey". Fred held the record for a 24 hr Closed Circuit Road Time Trial (Peter Duncan says it was a Track Time Trial) at c564 km (351 miles). This record was broken by Henrik Morén in 1912 with 604 350m (375.6 miles).
Fred's Brighton record too was a magnificent effort. In 1912 the Brighton Rd was in very poor condition, and the record to be beaten was one of Green's, but Grubb succeeded, and his 5h 9m 41 (which contains another 100 inside evens) stood for 14 years.
Fred won two silver medals in the Stockholm Olympics of 1912. In the Team Road Race and the Individual Road Race. In a private 100 ml trial on the Bath Road in 1913, he did 4h 43m 33s (Ave 21.16 mph). In 1914 Fred turned Pro. He raced on the continent for a short while, but found the racing there too dirty. He told Peter "They would stick an inflator in your spokes as quick as look at you", so he returned to England. Now as an ex pro he was disqualified from entering most events, it was the end of his competitive cycling.
Fred established his cycle business: F.H. Grubb (est. 1914), of Brixton, London SW9. It appears his clubmate Charley Davey helped finance the venture. The first frames may have been built at Brixton, but WW I soon intervened (4 Aug 1914 - 11 Nov 1918).
"During WW1 Fred worked in a London munitions factory, he had long working hours and cycled to and from work every day, it was all bed and work. He wanted to get into the Navy for an easier life, but his 'reserved occupation' status was a problem. Eventually he managed, but navy catering meant when he returned he was no longer vegetarian. He was made an honorary club member" (Peter Duncan).
FH Grubb opened his Works at Gould Rd, Twickenham, London between June 1926 & late 1927. Bill Rann (foreman) was the mechanical brains of the place, particularly remembered for the Rann kiddie trailer.
Just after Easter 1929 Eric Tweedale and Ted Rigby of the Manchester C.T.C. General Section, owners of one of the first Grubb tandems in the district, attacked the Club tandem "50" record in a private trial on the Broken Cross course. Private trials, according to club rule, had to be run on authenticated courses, properly marshalled, and timed by an official club timekeeper, so it was by a good ride that their 2-4-54 displaced Wood and Brewer's 2-5-53. "1929 has been a phenomenal year for Grubb Bicycles and Tandems. The output has been actually doubled on the previous year"
Glasgow Museum of Transport has this welded Grubb
'Kingston' recumbent. The design for this new model was advertised
on 10th August 1934, with the recumbent itself first advertised for sale
on 24 Aug 1934 as the first
The museum says: "Recumbents first appeared in the 1930's as bicycle makers tried to make a fast but stable bicycle. The horizontal design is more stretched to reduce wind resistance and allow the rider to use back and leg muscles".
"The Grubb machine was bought new in 1934 for £14-14s . It was made by F.H. Grubb Ltd of Brixton, London and owned by Mr RC Smith who used it for racing at Rothesay, Scotland".
"Donated by G Smith 1991- Grubb Kingston model"
This Kingston was re-enamelled in the 1960's by Rattray's (Glasgow). It now bears modern "Freddie Grubb" down tube decals but the seat decal is FH Grubb. There are no headbadge holes, an identical seat tube decal has been used as a head decal. Bill Hurlow says very few Grubbs were welded, but a recumbent would have to be as you couldn't get suitable lugs.
It is thought FH Grubb diversified into making the new, trendy, tubular metal furniture. An advert for FH Grubb Ltd in 'Cycling' 9 Nov 1934 mentions 'in voluntary liquidation'. They had recently passed frame number 16000 by the time Twickenham closed.
The day after Twickenham closed, not later than April 1935, Fred opened FHG Ltd, at 147a Haydons Rd, Wimbledon, London, S.W.19 with c20 staff remaining from c50 at Twickenham (Bill Hurlow). Bill Rann had already left to join Holdsworth. They restarted the serial number system, presumably from 1, 2, 3 etc
1935 FHG Ltd Temporary List of Cycles. (I think this is 1935, despite 1937 being written on it, but the Special Tourer may be 1937) The price of the "London Streak" and "Path" models is less than in 1936, though the "Special Tourer" is a pound more (with a 3 speed derailleur). You will notice the use of 'FHG' throughout the following Temporary List of Cycles, which I think is to underline to his creditors that he is a completely new business.
The 1936 catalogue mentions "the new Wimbledon Works" at 147a Haydons Rd, showrooms at 130 Haydons Rd, SW19, opposite the works and a shop at 31 Robsart St, Brixton, SW9 all in London, Alice ('Mrs Grubb') ran the shop. You will notice the 'FHG Path' model of early 1935 has become 'the Grubb Path' model etc. It appears that having shaken off his old FH Grubb Ltd creditors he wants to return, as far as he dares, to the established FH Grubb marque.
Over 16,000 Grubbs have already been made and many of Fred's staff (16 in the pic) have 'served for' 12 years. Frames are available in Accles & Pollock chrome-molybdenum or Reynolds High Manganese tubing. (Reynolds HM, launched 1924 was top of the range until 531 came out in 1935). Bill Hurlow confirms FHG hadn't started using 531 in 1936.
Bill Hurlow (b May 21) joined FHG Ltd at Haydons Rd in March 1936 aged 14. "The Company's credit worthiness was so weak I was often sent with cash in hand to buy components. Serial numbers were all 3 digit, stamped on the upper headlug front (above the headbadge) and on the fork steerer tube". [This indicates the huge drop in production levels NK]. Both headlugs incorporated a headset ball-race, the new push-in headsets, which we called 'Colonial Headsets', were frowned upon in the UK. Ironically, the Australians called them 'British Headsets'. (BH)
From invoices, Fred was trading as FH Grubb Ltd early in 1947. This aluminium headbadge was probably adopted immediately post war, as aluminium, scarce at the start of war, was one of the few abundant metals at this time. The brass FHG headbadge appears on c 1950 frames.
1949-51 models were: Perfection which was available in many different versions, including a twin seat-tube option, the Perfection Exquisite (scroll style lug work) and the Perfection de Triomphe (long points on headlugs and windows) were two. d'Avignon (lugged or lugless), Côte d'Azur (lugged or lugless) and Sprint Omnium.
Fred died on 6 March 1949 aged 61, his family continued the business. Fred's son, Frederick H Grubb was MD in Feb 1950 (but probably only part-time at Haydons Rd), the other 3 Directors were W.V. Grubb, Bill Rann and Ivor R. Cox (ex Holdsworth Director). Dick Swann (d 6 Sept 2003 aged 85) was also involved in some way, he was Company Secretary of the Grubb Finance Co after WW2 (VCC News & Views 298/8 Dec03 /Jan04), Charlie Roberts joined for a few months (WBH).
When petrol rationing ended on 26 May 1950 it had an odd effect on cycle makers. Parts became available, so they geared up production to clear their waiting list, built up during the rationing years, while meeting current demand. So production increased sharply, however, new orders slowed down, as some potential customers opted for a motorcycle, perhaps with a sidecar. So once the waiting list was fulfilled, they were geared-up to produce extra, but with lowered demand. Grubb production rose by 50% in 1950. Then came the crash.
The following undated catalogue mentions "...the late FH Grubb..." with pics of 'F H Grubb' decals on the d'Avignon model and clear pics of 'FREDDIE GRUBB' decals on the Côte d'Azur and Perfection models. It seems that FH Grubb & Freddie Grubb decals were used interchangably during this period, you could get an F.H. Grubb Perfection or a Freddie Grubb Perfection. My current theory, is that 'Freddie Grubb' was adopted after Fred's death, to signify Fred's son (once he became MD), continuing alongside his father in a manner of speaking, as the son was also named Frederick H Grubb.
The shop at Robsart St, Brixton appears to have gone, however 464 London Rd, Croydon, Surrey is advertised. At the Earls Court Cycle Show, Oct/Nov 1950, the new Touriste model was launched, in gents and ladies versions. The Perfection was top of the range. There were 'welded' and lugged models on display, as well as tandems and the Rann tandem trailer.
The business was struggling and the receiver auctioned off various frames etc in May 1951. However FH Grubb was still trading in Nov 1951, with showrooms at 130 Haydons Rd & Works at 147a Haydons Road. They had a new expensive range of frames for 1952, comprising :
The Blue Star, The Southern Cross, The Silver Comet (track) & the Golden Meteor, all available lugged or lugless.
1952 Holdsworthy Freddie Grubb
1953 Models: Perfection frame greatly
reduced at £11 11 0, Southern Cross frame almost half the
Nov 1951 price of £16 17 6 at £8 15/- & the Blue Star
cycle. The 'Rann' Tandem Trailer & 'Grubb' Home Trainer
are also offered.