Historic town shop is on display in Germany

Neil Holman and Theresa Marlow outside George Hall cycles.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Neil Holman and Theresa Marlow outside George Hall cycles. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

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The frontage of an historic town bicycle shop in Market Harborough is to be a centrepiece of an exhibition in Germany.

The exhibition in Mannheim celebrates 200 years of the bicycle, from its beginnings as a Laufmaschine (Running Machine) invented by German Baron Karl von Drais of Mannheim, in 1817.

German exhibition organisers have scoured the internet for old photographs of bike shops and bike memorabilia to add to their display.

And they came up with this little gem (pictured right) from Market Harborough - the frontage of what is now George Halls Cycle Centre in Northampton Road, pictured under an earlier incarnation in the 1930s.

Current shop owner Neil Holman said: “I was approached earlier in the year by one of the museum’s curators asking for permission to use the photograph as part of the 200-year celebration of the bicycle.

“It’s a big thing in Germany. Germany is to celebrate 2017’s bicentenary with the issuing of a 20 Euro coin featuring the “running machine” that 50 years later started to morph into the bike as we know it.

“The picture of our shop in the 1930s has been blown up to six metres by three metres for the exhibition.

“Myself and my partner Theresa Marlow hope to go over and see the exhibition round about Christmas.”

The result will be a time-and-space travelling photograph worthy of Dr Who.

It will show Neil And Theresa standing outside their shop - 80 years ago in Germany!

The exhibition will run from November 11, 2016, to June 25, 2017.

The Market Harborough bicycle shop is believed to be one of the oldest in the country. Remarkably, there has been a cycle shop in the same building - at 12, Northampton Road - since at least 1897.

Mr Holman added: “That’s as far back as I’ve traced it. I’m not quite sure how much older than that it is.”

Originally the shop was a bicycle-selling offshoot of St Mary’s Motors.

Then in the 1950s, then shop manager Fred Stanley bought it and changed the name to Fred Stanley’s Cycles.

And then in 1975, when Fred wanted to retire, former professional cyclist George Halls took over and the shop became George Halls Cycle Centre, which it still is today.

The shop expanded from number 12 to numbers 10 and 12 Northampton Road in 
1993.

Present owner Neil has worked in the shop since 1985, and owned it since 2004.

Altogether that means there has been a bicycle shop continuously on the Northampton Road site in Market Harborough for 119 years.

George Halls is retired and lives in Braybrooke, near Market Harborough.