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Don Farrell Frames?

Fred SteeleFred Steele Posts: 81
edited March 2010 in Road general
Does anyone know anything about Don Farrell frames? All I could find on the net is that there used to be a bike shop in Edgware under the name Don Farrell Cycles, and there are a few other mentions hinting that he was a quality builder.
I bought my girlfriend a nicely made old Don Farrell touring bike via Ebay a couple of years ago, and the BB shell is stamped "Shelley Farrell". Made for a relative perhaps.

Any info is really appreciated.



  • DickieDickie Posts: 1,489
    Fred here is mine, now sold and I have only seen 2 others. On the FGG and better pics in second link, its the bright red bike. Mine was not a particually well built frame, I felt the filing and finishing were on the side of just acceptable. One seat stay was 1-8" shorter than the other etc. Rare but so so quality.

    He was an ex racer turned builder as far as I know. According to a post on here a while back last seen in Hackney before some slag stole it.
  • 4candles4candles Posts: 240
    I used to have one in the 70's, got it from the shop in Edgeware... looked identical to my mates Holdsworth at the time, which also came from there.
  • Thanks, that's interesting to know chaps.
  • I have an old (c. 1969) Don Farrell frame. Apparently it was actually built by a firm called Tonard Brazing, in Croydon. I was told this by Chas Roberts when I took the frame to his workshop / showroom to find out the cost of a respray. My frame has a rather smart fitting where the seat tube receives the top part of the rear triangle.

    Regards, Martin
  • mz__jomz__jo Posts: 398
    I used to have a rack made by Tonard Brazing, nice and very cheap, mass-produced. I think they probably turned their hands to anything that would sell (normal way to make a living!).
    I don't know who built frames for the small bike shops in the south-east but in (what was) my part of the world it was Knight in Redditch. I think that that was where my Bob Griffin was made.
    Cheers Jo
  • Ah, Don Farrell. Bought a pair of Merckx Adidas from there in the early 1980's. Shop also did some ski-ing stuff before closing down.

    .... and just about half a mile south of there, also on the A5, was Bird's Cycles - anyone remember Jim Bird's shop?
  • I have only just seen the correspondence on the subject of Don Farrell frames. In the late 1940s Don built me a frame for track racing which in those days took place in a park at Paddington, on Sunday afternoons at Slough and , of course , at Herne Hill. He later built me a road bkie which I used for time trials, 25s and 50s mostly, and massed start races. These were mostly held on disused airfields and once a year on the TT course on the Isle of Man.

    When I first knew Don he was looking after a cycle shop for Ivor J Clark in West Harrow and because of his interest in cycle racing the shop became a Mecca for keen cyclists in the west London and home counties area. There were few cycle constructors at the time and the prices were too high for young cyclists then. Don had a workshop at the back of the shop he used for cycle repairs and to build up business he started wheel building, fitting a variety of handle bars, deraillieur gears, etc.

    He then started frame building with varying degrees of success, the two plate fork bridge collapsed on one of mine! But the advantage of frames to ones own size requirements was a real novelty and we believed a real go fast advantage. Don never made many to my knowledge, so the possibililty that someone else built them for him to badge is quite logical. Don was always keen to adopt any new technology of cycle racing, at that time being led by french and iItalian cyclists, particularly those in the Tour de France. Multi ratio sprockets were in demand and as the best of the British products were 3 speed Don dismantled one of these, ground away the width on each cog and reassembled each to the hub. It worked but best reserved for road events.

    In a way much of Dons development work was to assist his wife, Stella in her pursuit of Ladies National Distance Road Records, over the years she held 25 mile, 50 mile 100 mile records, also London to Bath, London to Brighton, 12 and 24 hour. Preparing and training for these events took a lot of Dons time and he had little left for his own efforts but he was keen to help young cyclists on their way. The embossed bottom bracket probably read "Stella Farrell"

    In the early 1950s he felt the need to run his own shop and took larger premises in Edgware Middx which enabled him to stock a much wider range of lightweight cycle components, tubular tyres, ally bars and extensions, ally sprint rims, etc.
    Around the same time Don and Stella took an interest in skiing and he began bringing back ski equipment and ski-wear which was in very short supply here at very high prices.

    Once the business was really up and running Don's interest turned to motor racing. He bought an Allard sports car and in the cellar space under his shop he modified this car for hill-climes.
    I don't know the details but it caught the interest of Motor Sport magazine who published an article about it. Unfortunately Don clipped a kerb at high speed on one hill and crashed through a hedge into a field from which he suffered extensive injuries although none was of a serious nature.

    .To summarise, Don Farrell was never a great frame builder but in his time he was quite an influence in racing equipment circles for a range of components and technologies. The last I heard of him was in the 1970s that he and Stella had retired and moved to Porlock in Cornwall.
  • i worked at tonard brazing in the early 1970's as a frame builder,building most of the cheaper frames about 7 a week i think i could knock out,i also built many of the cycle racks they were built after work/over time on a peace work basis.the frame builder of the better frames at the time was a man called ted goodhall an ex tour de france mechanic who at the time must have been in his 50's. tonard brazing was in leslie park rd in croydon and owned by kieth hardwick and bill tonkins.
  • Just restored a Bob Jackson frame from 1964. When I received the work card the frame had been made for Don Farrell. It’s a very light frame and has made a cracking bike. It will be my daily commute as well as hill climbs.

  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,195
    That looks great. It should be in " things that make you smile".... I can feel a bout of nostalgia coming on.
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 6,779
    Yep lovely looking bike
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
  • I remember Don Farrells very well. I live in Mill Hill.
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