We don’t make it easy
It would be easy to use a courier company to collect and ship our orders. But we like using the local Post Office. We know the people there and they help us to do a good job. Our business also contributes to keeping that vital local facility open. It’s a choice that we can make.
We used to carry the packaged orders to the Post Office. Then our company grew a bit and the post sacks got bigger. Our new unit is a bit further away and so we started to use bicycles to take the orders.
We like doing it like this and we like riding bikes. So when we were offered the chance to borrow the king of all cargo bikes for a demo period we jumped at the chance.
Graham, the UK distributor for Bullitt cargo bikes, agreed to meet us at Manchester Victoria train station. The only problem was that there were three of us and just one bike. Our local bike shop, Blazing Saddles, lent us two Brompton folding bikes and with a bit of pedalling and a train ride we travelled to Manchester. Alex our photographer jumped on a train and met us there.
The Bullitt does not handle like a normal bike, but after a lesson from Graham and a bit of wobbling about we were soon feeling confident. Once you’re used to it the Bullitt is really stable and best of all it’s really fun to ride, with or without a load.
The electric assist Shimano motor only works when you pedal. It help you get off the line and when you are carrying a load uphill. It cuts out at 25 km/h. Think of it as a gentle but powerful hand that helps you, but still allows you to get a good workout.
The Brompton is a brilliant machine designed to fold up and be easy to carry and store. On a train or just in your home the folded bike only takes up as much room as a small suitcase. When opened up it’s a capable and light weight bike with six gears and good brakes.
Swapping between the three bikes we made our way out of the city and called in at English Fine Cottons in Dukinfield. Based in a listed Victorian cotton mill it houses a new facility with the most advanced cotton spinning technology in the world.
Manchester was the world leader in cotton spinning, but the industry went into decline, manufacturing was taken offshore and no cotton came from the city for 50 years.
We are excited with this revival and are keen to source fabric that is both spun into yarn and then woven into cloth in the north of England. English Fine Cottons are working with us to help make the ‘1st fully British pair of trousers for decades’ a reality.
Normally you can get back from Manchester to Hebden Bridge in about 40 minutes on the train but it took us 8 hours going the long way round.
We did manage a factory visit, lots of photography, a pub lunch and an ice cream stop on the way. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but that’s how we like it.
Since then we’ve been zipping around the valley on the Bullitt. Trousers and belts, girlfriends, dogs, bags of shopping, total strangers and even other bicycles have been carried. This thing is so practical and really good fun. So much so that we’ve ordered two of them.
The final part of our journey took us up over Blackstone Edge and across the border from Lancashire back into Yorkshire. It had been a great day out, a good adventure.
Powering yourself along, linking places that you normally only see through the car or train window has a special magic. It cements the connection that you have between place, people, history, work and play. Obviously we finished it all off with a pint.
UPDATE :: Nearly a year after our journey, we’ve finally landed one of the products we were wanting. Our British Standard T Shirt, made from English Fine Cotton.