Thursday, January 2, 2020

In Fast Company: Raleigh Club Cycles 1934-1942

With names like Super Sports, Streak, Golden Arrow, Clipper, Special Club, Silver Record and Golden Four, the Raleigh and Humber club cycles of the 'thirties with their trim good looks, distinctive transfers and livery, celluloid mudguards, Sturmey-Archer gears and their riders in Alpaca cycling jackets with rolled up sleeves and open spread collar shirts, evoke a quaint and civil world of cycling on largely car-free roads amid unspoilt rural settings. They also represented a Golden Age for Raleigh as well as British cycling then enjoying the peak of its popularity.  Club riders were part of a new national appreciation of the countryside, health and fitness, a carefree idyll cut short by the War and diminished after it by cars, congestion and suburban sprawl.

Not quite racing bike, but lighter, more nimble than the roadster, with narrower wheels and tyres, detachable celluloid mudguards and more upright angles, the club machines were often brightly coloured with model names that evoked their carefree, sporty function.  Some were at the top of cycle design and specification with lightweight tubing, specialised components and narrow ratio hub gears whilst others were popular priced models aimed at the youth market, junior time trialists or those to whom cycling was confined to a week or Bank Holiday pursuit.  And many were "co-ed" with specific lady frames for a sport that increasingly attracted women and enjoyed by couples and families.  Indeed, the club cycling advertising image as youthful, healthy and wholesome was precisely what it was.  

Club cycling had its own customs and credentials and by the mid 1930s most every British cycle manufacturer avidly catered to it. Indeed, the period leading up the Second World War was its heyday and produced some of the most distinctive machines that, owing to their war curtailed production, are all but forgotten today.  

This article endeavours to detail the club cycle models produced by Raleigh between 1934-1942:

Raleigh Super Sports no. 41
Raleigh Golden Arrow Super Sports no. 41
Raleigh Golden Arrow no. 41

Humber Streak no. 85
Humber Golden Streak no. 85

Raleigh Record no. 48

Raleigh New Record no. 40
Raleigh Silver Record no. 40

Humber Clipper no. 104
Humber Silver Clipper no. 104

Raleigh Special Club Sports no. 43

Humber Beeston Club no. 88

Raleigh Golden Four no. 4

Raleigh Lenton Sports no. 44

Humber Blue Streak no. 97

Raleigh Silver Three no. 53
Raleigh Silver Four no. 54

Humber Silver Cloud Three no. 102
Humber Silver Cloud Four no. 103

Literally putting a club cycle (the Golden Arrow) on a pedestal: detail from Raleigh's 1938 catalogue cover, one of their finest graphic productions. Credit: V-CC on-line library


With the Wall Street Crash of 1929 came the Great Depression, and a decline in bicycle sales. But by 1932, demand was increasing significantly. Cycling was an affordable means of transport and was increasingly seen also as a healthy pursuit. Between the 1931 and 1937 seasons, Raleigh's bicycle production increased by more than five times. 

Interest in cycling was boosted by a trend toward lighter bicycle construction, a more streamlined riding position, narrower tires, and more sophisticated gearing.  This in turn was aided by improved road surfaces, at least on the home market. Rural roads, mostly hitherto unsealed, were increasingly being resurfaced with tarmac. Suburban expansion led to the construction and improvement of many miles of uncongested smooth roads. In many urban areas only the old city centers retained their traditional surfaces of cobbles or stone sets. There was therefore less of a need for wide section tires, a heavy sprung saddle, and a 'sit-up-and-beg' riding position.

Tony Hadland, Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand

The heyday of the club bicycle in Britain in the 'thirties coincided with that of cycling in the country both in the numbers of cycles and cyclists but also in its national identity.  It was also a high point for Raleigh as a company. Amid the global depression, Raleigh's sales, production and profits all increased exponentially, they acquired the cycle business of Humber Ltd. and, in 1934, became a public company.  Then, too,  Sturmey-Archer developed a new range of new racing and touring hub gears as well its first four-speed models to make the 1930s one of their most  memorable eras, exemplified by the company sponsored record breaking cyclists Sid Ferris, Bert James, Charles Holland and Tommy Godwin.  All of this was accomplished when cycling was enjoying a new awakening amid a national movement towards fitness and the outdoors and the bicycle increasingly embraced for sport, pleasure and exercise.  

It was no accident that the Raleigh front cover advertisement in Cycling celebrating their centenary in 1937 featured a youthful club rider and his Golden Arrow club cycle to represent the present day of the venerable firm.  


Time is the greatest judge of quality, and time-- 50 years of it-- has given judgement for Raleigh. In every country of the Empire, and many outside it; on roads and on race tracks; Raleigh all-steel cycles from the famous Nottingham factory are proving over and over again the skill of their designers, the soundness of their manufacture and the sterling worth of British goods. 

Raleigh advertisement, Nottingham Journal 2 January 1934

In 1937, Raleigh celebrated their 50th year amid booming times. Unlike so many other industries, the cycle trade enjoyed healthy sales for most of the 1930s. The worldwide Depression had fostered the bicycle as a means of both economic transport and recreation, so much so that from 1931 to 1937, Raleigh sales had increased more than five fold. In 1931 alone, sales were up 81 per cent. Overall, the number of cycles in Britain went from six millions in 1929 to 10 millions in 1935.

Boom times for Raleigh; few firms thrived as much during the Depression years with record sales, production, exports, factory and workforce expansion.  Left to right: Nottingham Journal 1 October 1935, 2 January 1934, 5 January 1937. Credit: British Newspaper Archives

The post-war trend to build housing estates and create close-in suburbs outside central city cores resulted in a marked increase in cycle commuting.  And whereas Raleigh's core product, the traditional roadster, remained a linchpin, they had, since the War, successfully diversified their product to include racing, sports and "club" models reflecting changes in the interwar market for cycles for leisure and recreation.

Symbol of a prosperous decade for Raleigh: their new headquarters building in Lenton Boulevard, Nottingham, opened in 1931.  In 2019 it became the 400,000th structure in Britain to be given landmark status.  credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History.

Raleigh as a company reflected their rising fortunes.  Not the least of which was a splendid new two-storey Nottingham headquarters fronting Lenton Boulevard, designed by respected local architect Thomas Cecil Howitt (1889-1968), which opened in 1931. The imposing lobby with its statue of Sir Walter Raleigh and handsome facade soon featured in the increasingly elaborate and beautiful catalogues commissioned by a company enjoying what might be considered its Golden Era.

Equally impressive during this fruitful era were Raleigh's managers and directors including William Raven, Works Manager, William Brown who became Sturmey-Archer's design and development manager in 1935 and responsible for an exciting range of new racing, touring and club hub gears, and Charles Marshall who championed the use of hub gears in racing and time trialing and was the leading exponent of lightweight racing, club and sports machine development and design for Raleigh. No less important were the workers... the Nottingham men and women of the assembly line, the frame brazers, the painters, the wheel builders, the gear cutters... who upheld the firm's reputation for excellence and quality by making it their own.

Rather than resting on their laurels, Raleigh and Sturmey-Archer were impressively forward looking and progressive. Development, design and marketing played an increasingly important role and reflected in a product line that changed with the times and often in anticipation of them.  In 1930, the Raleigh line-up had two racing and club cycles. In the 1939, it numbered ten.  Henceforth such machines would remain an essential part of Raleigh's product and image.

The cover of Humber's 1933 catalogue, their first under Raleigh ownership, captures matchless 'thirties British clubman style.


So accustomed are we to Raleigh buying up competitors and sublimating them into their massive Nottingham centred manufacturing empire, it's worth remembering that it wasn't until 1932 that they indeed purchased their first major independent cycle company (well specifically the bicycle side of the business), the venerable Humber Ltd. 

Thomas Humber began manufacturing bicycles in Beeston, Nottingham in 1878 and was one of the pioneers of the safety bicycle (patented in 1884). Through a succession of different owners, the Humber name was retained and revered as one of Britain's top cycle makes along with Sunbeam and Rudge-Whitworth during the Edwardian Era.  The firm's manufacturing was moved from Nottingham to Coventry in 1908 and Humber plunged into the burgeoning motorcar trade, rising to second place among British firms by the outbreak of The Great War.  

Humber amalgamated with Hillman Motors, also Coventry based, in 1928 to form Humber-Hillman Ltd. In 1931 the Rootes Brothers bought out 60 per cent of the firm and remainder the following year. Rootes had no interest in Humber's cycle trade which had been neglected over the years in favour of the motorcar business and their cycle manufacturing facilities in Coventry were outdated and inadequate.  

Humber already had a longstanding relationship with Raleigh as one of the earliest proponents of Sturmey-Archer gears.  For Raleigh, the firm's superb reputation and established dealer network made Humber an attractive prospect. On 17 February 1932, Raleigh acquired their cycle patents, trademarks, name and sales agreements.  Humber's Coventry cycle manufacturing was immediately shifted to Nottingham. The Raleigh acquisition meant that Humber Cycles were indeed "back home" where they began some 70 years previously.

Newspaper reports on the takeover of Humber's cycle business by Raleigh, 17 February 1932 in the Daily Herald, Nottingham Journal and Coventry Evening Telegraph. Credit: British Newspaper Archives. 

Owing to the nature of cycle sales with dealers selling only specific brands, it was desirable to maintain and build on Humber's dealer network without infringing on Raleigh's. Moreover, it was neither efficient or economic for Raleigh to continue to manufacture two separate lines. Consequently, Raleigh practically created "bicycle badge engineering" and from the 1934 model year onwards, Raleigh models would also be made as Humber machines with their own names, identity and Humber specific components like fork crowns, the Humber-Beeston Duplex Fork in many models and chain rings incorporating the famous Humber "dancing men" logo.  Further, there was no reference whatsoever to Raleigh in connection with Humber in advertisements or catalogues, only the new address as "Lenton Blvd., Nottingham" being a clue.

Humber club and sporting models from its 1932 catalogue. Ten shillings down bought you a Humber Club, but didn't save the firm's venerable cycle business which was sold to Raleigh in February that year.  Credit: V-CC on-line library and Grace's Guide to British Industrial History (ad)

It's worth noting that Humber were no stranger to sports and club cycles and numbered two such models in their own final line-up as an independent, the  Club and the Blue Streak. So it was that Raleigh's evolving range of Club and sports cycles were offered as Humber ones, with the same specifications, fittings and prices as those of the parent firm.  This was in place by the 1934 model year so coordinating with Raleigh's introduction of the Super Sports model.  

In all their 70 plus years, Humber Cycles never enjoyed such popularity and a veritable explosion in sales as they did in the first few years under Raleigh ownership.  Left to right: Kent & West Sussex Courier 26 January 1934, Coventry Telegraph 10 September 1934 and Belfast Telegraph 14 March 1935. Credit: British Newspaper Archives. 

Raleigh invested heavily in expanding Humber's market. This was reflected in the number and quality of advertisements during this period with a heavy emphasis on the new sports and club range. The results were immediate and dramatic, Humber sales rising an astonishing 250 per cent in the first two years of Raleigh ownership. For Raleigh, too, the takeover produced very satisfying results with a record 6,000 machines manufactured at Nottingham in one week in July 1933, exceeded by the 7,600 mark one week that November.

The cover of Raleigh's 1937 catalogue, on the occasion of  their half century in business, reflected the New Era of Cycling... youthful, vigorous and fun for both men and women... that, too, was reflected in new cycles and designs for the venerable firm before the outbreak of the Second World War.  Credit: V-CC on-line library.


Cycling as a pastime must ultimately depend upon the fascination of the game as a source of pleasure, pure and simple.

Proof exists that it is a beneficial exercise. It does your heart good to know that. It is good for the lungs, so may as well shout its benefits aloud. It creates a healthy desire for simple food, and induces dreamless sleep, but fortunately it is also pleasurable, or the millions who cycle today might be seeking other appetisers and other soporifics. Cycling is an idea exercise, and a magnificent medicine, and these facts help us to take it awheel gladly without our having to regard it as ordered by a Specialist as a cure. It is a jolly thing to do, and it also happens to be a jolly good thing for us to do it. Moreover, there is in bicycle-riding the personal satisfaction of having done something. When are self propelled you cannot help enjoying the small element of pride that arises from the reflection, "Alone, I did it!"

But last as first, there is a charm inherent in cycling as a thing in itself, not merely because it is useful, healthy, inexpensive or obligatory. Cycling is just a very nice thing to do.

from the Foreword to the 1934 Raleigh catalogue by the late F.C. Bidlake, M.A.

If cycling for transport burgeoned in the 'thirties, its greatest expansion came through increasing use for leisure. This, more than anything, spurred the development of the club cycle among British makers during the decade as legions of Britons answered the call to "Develop the Cycling Habit."

"Indeed, the inter-war years were the 'golden age' for bicycle touring, and the 1930s saw the renaissance of cycling as a sport. Cycling clubs were established throughout the country, and as the directors of BSA cycles acknowledged, they had an appeal to a wide age group, from 12 to 60 years of age, and enabled 'all classes of people to enjoy the pleasure and health attained by cycling through Britain's beautiful countryside." Raleigh and the British Bicycle Industry: An Economic and Business History, 1870–1960.

Fitness as National Policy in Britain in the '30s.  On the first year anniversary of the establishment of the National Fitness Council, H.M. King George VI made a major speech on the subject at the Guildhall, London endorsing national fitness through exercise, sport and healthy eating. Some of the country's major cycling organisations took the occasion to promote the sport, noting that the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were among the 10 million British cyclists at the time.  Credit: British Newspaper Archives. 

Between the wars, Britain embraced the "Outdoors Movement" with its emphasis on healthy living and leisure activities like cycling.  The bicycle was no longer just for economic transport for the masses but now a recreation, and one best enjoyed as a group activity with cycle societies like the Cyclists Touring Club enjoying record membership and participation.

Indeed, fitness took on a patriotic flavour and urgency after Britain was considered to have put in a poor showing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.  In January 1937 the British Government established a National Fitness Council to promote fitness, exercise and healthy living. With no sense of irony at the time, there was even a set of cigarette cards issued in 1938 in co-operation with the National Council featuring 50 different exercises.

Cycling, in particular, was encouraged and the Government began an ambitious scheme for a nationwide network of cycle paths. Four thousand British doctors attested to the health benefits of cycling and the Minister of Health, Sir Kingsley Wood, added his enthusiastic endorsement in October 1936: "We are planning to-day a national campaign to build a fitter Britain, and I am confident that we shall have the support and good-will of those who have shown by their love of cycling that they know the virtue of healthy exercise in the open air." 

Humber's 1938 catalogue featured these charmingly contrived vignettes of vigorous young Britons enjoying the countryside, cycling and each other's company to  sell their cycles.  

Moreover, it was very much a feminist movement, exemplified by the Women's League of Health & Beauty ("a league of women who will renew their energy in themselves and for themselves day by day") founded in 1930 by Prunella Stack, later Lady Douglas-Hamilton.  Cycling was eagerly embraced as an ideal pursuit for women of all ages, ranks and stations. One of its exponents was League member member Billie Dovey, the 24-year-old typist who didn't take up cycling until she was in her early teens and who became famous for breaking the record for the most miles cycled in a year by a woman in 1938. Although she did so riding for Rudge-Whitworth, her achievement and passion for cycling, created an enormous boost for the sport among women of all ages.  Club cycling and the machines that went with it put women at the forefront not only the sales and promotion but also in the design of the cycles themselves.

Left: Sir Walter himself offers his cloak to the legions of Britons discovering the joys of fitness, exercise,  countryside and cycling on, of course, Raleighs in the 1930s whilst (right) Health, Fitness, Style (complete with Heron Crested beret)... and a fag on the go... on a Raleigh.  

With increased leisure time, better roads and the growth of suburbs, access to the countryside was made easier and the bicycle was an ideal way to explore it for a day or longer.  Indeed, during the Depression years, short cycling holidays were  increasingly the only ones working and middle class families could afford.  Tapping into this, Raleigh began in the mid 'thirties their "Raleigh Cruising" advertising scheme which tapped  into the sudden popularity of short ocean cruises from Britain at the same time.  And while a bicycle, even an up-to-date club model, was no luxury liner, it offered the prospect of a cheap, healthy getaway for those who couldn't afford more traditional holidays. 

Furthermore, lighter cycles with multi-speed hub gears promised that cycling was indeed as effortless as cruising while the major department stores began to sell stylish cycling clothing for men and woman which made it almost as fashionable. It was a sales pitch deliberately pitched to women, "girls" who never looked more radiant, healthy or happy as they did aglow and awheel on or around a Raleigh, daringly clad in "shorts and shirts."   

One of their more memorable advertising campaigns between the wars was "Raleigh Cruising" although the girls seemed to be portrayed off their cycles more than riding them and most likely never had to mend their own punctures.

By the time this advertisement appeared in summer 1936, Raleigh were indeed producing a varied and popular range of  roadsters, sports, club and racing machines.  Credit: Grace's Guide to British Industrial History

So it was that the 1930s ushered in a new style machine that came to symbolise The British Bicycle almost as much as the "sit-up-and-beg" traditional roadster: The Club Cycle.  Raleigh did not pioneer the type (although their first so-named machine, the Club Raleigh, came out as early as 1928) but promoted and produced it with such intensity and success as to make it a new linchpin of its model line-up and a tap a new and burgeoning market of leisure cyclists.  

The Raleigh Super Sports of 1934 was the first club machine for Raleigh in its specification and advertising. Set above in an English idyll of leafy countryside and winding road, it ushered in a new era for the Company. 


Determining "firsts" is often arbitrary, but a good argument can be made for nominating the Super Sports as Raleigh's first club cycle.  Although its specification was more of a tweak of the existing Sports model (first introduced in 1931), it was portrayed and promoted in an entirely new fashion for Raleigh with a decided pitch to club cycling, countryside and "clubman" rider in an impressive and attractive centerspread of the 1934 catalogue. Moreover, it was priced to be an "everyman's" club machine and in both a gents and ladies version.  

Beyond the images and sales pitch, the real importance of the Super Sports, which lasted but a year in its original form, was that it formed the basis of what proved to be the most successful and famous of the Raleigh pre-war club cycles, the Golden Arrow, which was produced up to the outbreak of the Second World War. It and the new Record Ace (RRA) were also the first new Raleigh models also produced in distinctive versions for newly acquired Humber.  In addition, the Super Sports/Golden Arrow was the first really popular Raleigh model exported and sold in the United States and its introduction coincided exactly with the beginning of importing and marketing the brand in America.

The new Super Sports had pride of place and presentation in this impressive centerfold in the 1934 catalogue.  Henceforth, its successor, the Golden Arrow, enjoyed the "flagship" status with this treatment, reflecting how important such machines were in Raleigh marketing. 

The specification for the 1934 Super Sports.  

Adopting the Sports frame which dated from 1931 (and the essentials of which endured in varying forms for some 60 years of production), the Super Sports established its club credentials through its components including the now standard Endrick 26"x1¼" rims with quick release Raleigh hubs with wingnuts, celluloid-covered Marsh bend 'bars and chainset with fluted cranks, 48T chainring, fixed/free cogs and rat trap pedals.  The mudguards were ivory-painted white steel Raleigh ones, but distinctive from those fitted to the Sports models. At the time, Raleigh were still reluctant to use components other than those made in house so it was a few years before that staple of "real" club cycles of the time, quick release fit Bluemels celluloid mudguards, were offered on this model.  The saddle was a narrow Brooks Suplex for the gents and a standard width for the ladies.

Colour finishes, too, were part of the club image. Here, Raleigh were more cautious, retaining their classic dipped black livery for the Super Sports with the addition of a gold head tube, but did offer the option of maroon or blue enamel at no extra cost whilst ivory cost 10 s. extra. Curiously, although the "Super Sports" model name was on the lower head lug, the seat tube transfer read "Raleigh Sports Model", the same as for the standard Sports.

The other characteristic of Raleigh club machines of the era, one frame size, was also established with the Super Sports: 21".  This was obviously derived from study of demand and in an era of long seat posts and long top tubes, it was a size that was more adoptable than present day thinking and methods indicate, or, perhaps anticipating the current trend to small frames.  It certainly aided in the rationalisation of production and design which was optimised for one size.  The frame angles of 67° parallel were fairly typical of the era, as well and indeed shared by the RRA until 1936.  

The "X" version of the Super Sports (left) was fitted with Sturmey-Archer drum brakes whilst the ladies' version is shown on the right. Note the handlebars are inverted North Road pattern on the ladies model and a smaller 44t chainring and rubber pedals were fitted. 

Finally, the Super Sports was available, as were most Raleigh club machines, in a ladies frame with specific components (such as rubber pedals, smaller chainring and often different handlebars) to go with it.  Sales of club cycles to women were a major component of their marketing and reflected in their design and production to a far great extent than "real" racing machines like the Record Ace and Record which were "gents only".

The Super Sports figured in the earliest history of Raleigh exports to the United States by Hamilton Osgood. This is from a 1934 leaflet at the beginning of his importing Raleighs into America where the Super Sports was one of the very few quality adult sports machines available in the country. 

The new Super Sports model helped to introduce Raleigh's famous "Cruising" advertising campaign stressing "Health and Economy".  From the Nottingham Post, 15 June (left) and 29 June 1934. Credit: British Newspaper Archives. 

1934 Raleigh Super Sports X  (all photos credit: Eak Moy via Flickr)

An exceptional, wholly original Raleigh Super Sports X, fitted as new with Sturmey-Archer drum brakes, complete down to the tool bag and early pattern Raleigh quick release wing nuts and even the grips appear to be the originals.  Perfection!

A legend is born: The Golden Arrow Super Sports introduced in the 1935 catalogue.


1935 specification changes
  • "shallow dropped 'bars" replace Marsh bend
  • "Golden Arrow" transfer on seat tube
  • "Super Sports" model name still on lower head lug
  • ivory colour option dropped

The allegorical phrase Golden Arrow is nowadays applied as a description of a fast, luxurious, and not entirely unromantic conveyance. After my experience of the Raleigh bicycle of that name, I am willing to accept the description without a quarrel.  The Cyclist, 30 June 1937

Introduced in 1929, the "Golden Arrow" (Southern Railway all Pullman service London-Dover, the brand new ferry Canterbury to Calais, and then the SNCF "Fl├Ęche d’Or" de luxe train Calais-Paris) was the most celebrated way to travel between the two "most important capitals in the world" between the wars.  This was the image of speed, luxe and celebrity of the time.  

Raleigh could have chosen no better name to rebrand the Super Sports in 1935.  Yet, it was a bit tentative and for 1935-36, the model was technically the Golden Arrow Super Sports and the Super Sports model name remained on the head tube lower lug.

In the cycle trade between the wars, the name "Golden Arrow" summed up all that the train did and it proved, without a doubt, to be Raleigh's most successful and well known club bicycle of the interwar period and indeed one of the the firm's most famous of all time. 

Although there were more sophisticated club machines in the 'thirties, the Golden Arrow was (and is today) revered by that most important of critics: those who own, ride and enjoy it. It was and remains a delightful "ride" and a bicycle that garners fans and admirers 85 years after it was introduced.  

The new Golden Arrow Super Sports had pride of place in the centrespread of the 1935 catalogue. Credit: Perth Vintage Cycles

The centre spread of the 1935 export catalogue showing the different colour printing and note the lack of prices.

Specifications for the 1935 Golden Arrow Super Sports.

For Raleigh's general advertising in 1935, the Golden Arrow Super Sports figured in a new scheme highlighting the firm's advances over almost 50 years and appealed to the surge in new cyclists at the time.  From the Nottingham Post 2 April and 3 April 1935.  Credit: Britsh Newspaper Archives.

The Golden Arrow carried on cruising in Raleigh adverts in 1935: 5 July (left) and 3 May (right) in the Nottingham Post. Credit: British Newspaper Archives

1935 Raleigh Golden Arrow Super Sports

One of the earliest and most original examples of the Golden Arrow was offered on eBay in 2015. And while the photos are not the best, the condition and originality of the machine are unquestionably superb.  Moreover this is one of the Golden Arrow "X" models with front and rear Sturmey-Archer drum brakes.  

The exceptional centerfold rendering of the Golden Arrow in the 1936 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.


1936 specification changes
  • handlebars now chromium-plated instead of celluloid-covered
  • optional colours dropped
  • silver-coloured metal headbadge instead of transfer
  • twin-stay mudguard attachment

For 1936, the Golden Arrow was depicted in a splendid centerspread of the catalogue which remains one of the finest depictions of a cycle in any brochure.  

The Golden Arrow beautifully presented in the centerfold of the 1936 catalogue. Credit: Perth Vintage Cycles

The Raleigh Golden Arrow ladies model in the 1936 catalogue. 

Specification for the 1936 Golden Arrow.

The Raleigh Golden Arrow advertisement, June 1936. Credit: Grace's Guide to British Industrial History

Advertisement for the Golden Arrow Super Sports.  Credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History

Advertisement for the Golden Arrow Super Sports. Credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History

July 1936 advertisement for the Golden Arrow. Credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History

Advertisement for the Golden Arrow. Credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History

For 1936, Raleigh used the Golden Arrow (depicted right up-to-date too with the new chromed handlebars and twin-stay mudguard attachment) to promote their "individual production" quality and 5 shillings down hire purchase scheme. From the Nottingham Post, 17 April (left) and 12 June (right). Credit: British Newspaper Archives.  

1936 Raleigh Golden Arrow (all photos credit Barnstormerbikes, via Flickr)

A rare example of a Golden Arrow in the optional blue livery.  Certainly a 1936 frame (no pump peg braze-ons, original mudguard fitting tabs, twin-stay mudguards and chromed handlebars) but still blue when this was no longer listed as an option at least in the Home Market catalogue.  This, however, is an export machine to the United States and that may account for the variance.  Note also the John Bull pattern rubber pedals which are original.  This machine was acquired in true "barn find condition" and sensitively and beautifully restored by the present owner.

Golden Arrow in "as found" condition

Showing how the colour finishes were always sprayed over the traditional dipped black enamel.

Golden Arrow bits and pieces removed for restoration.  

And yes, it's really... blue, too!

For the 1937 model year, Raleigh's 50th, the Golden Arrow finally lived up to its name with a stunning new gold finish.  

The 1937 Golden Arrow, ladies model.


1937 specification changes
  • standard livery was now gold cellulose including the fork and pump. Option of chromed fork at extra cost
  • black livery with chromed fork remained an option at no extra cost
  • RRA pattern detachable chainset, 46t, replaced Heron's Head fixed chain ring, fluted cranks
  • brazed on mudguard eyes on the seat stays and front fork, designed specifically for the twin set of stays employed with detachable celluloid 'guards.
  • braze-on pump pegs
  • saddle now a Terry "Oppy" no. 1238
  • model now officially the Golden Arrow, all reference to Super Sports dropped

As golden as its name implies, and one of the most popular models in the range. A stylishly finished, good-looking mount, its specification with convey an excellent idea of the high standard to which it has been built.

Suitably, for Raleigh's 50th anniversary, their Golden Jubilee, the Golden Arrow finally lived up to its name and painted in a gold cellulose finish including the fork and the pump.  This was the beginning of Raleigh introducing special sprayed polychromatic and lustre finishes, then in their infancy, usually as an option, on many models, including the RRA, instead of the traditional dipped black enamel finish.  For the Golden Arrow, the classic black with chromed fork remained an option at no extra cost. Indeed, judging from the surviving examples today, it remained, by far, the most popular.  

More practical was the replacement of the Heron Heads fixed chainset with the RRA pattern detachable one, still with fluted cranks, with a 46t as standard.  This made the machine far more useful for the more serious aspiring clubman running fixed gear.  Also more in keeping with club machines was the provision of proper braze-on fittings on the seat stays and fork for quick-release celluloid mudguards which were, by then, de rigeur for clubmen of almost any level.  The option for Raleigh white-painted steel 'guards remained.  

"A strikingly finished, beautifully made, moderately-priced 'sports' and as graceful a mount as any girl could desire. Light, fast, strong, it is, with its gold and chromium finish, a machine you would be proud to own."

The specification list for the 1937 Golden Arrow.

The Golden Arrow as more prosaically depicted in the 1937 mini catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The ladies Golden Arrow in the 1937 mini catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

30 June 1937 review of the Golden Arrow in The Cyclist, 30 June 1937 by "Motilus"


text of the review:

The allegorical phrase Golden Arrow is nowadays applied as a description of a fast, luxurious, and not entirely unromantic conveyance. After my experience of the Raleigh bicycle of that name, I am willing to accept the description without a quarrel. The Golden Arrow model has been one of the greatest successes, because of its specially attractive exterior and its honest high-class equipment, and the remarkably low price. Of course, all Raleighs are attractive. If they were not, then the famous Nottingham house would not be showing sales totals soaring up around the half-million yearly. Consider, for a moment, the special points of any Raleigh.

The Framework

Almost every part of the bicycle is made in the company's own works, one of the outstanding features of which is the marvellous presswork machinery, which produces pressed steel lugs and bracket shells of strength, lightness and precision.  Then there is the tubular-design fork-crown. This is one of the best-known and most distinctive outward signs of a Raleigh, but it has practical virtues as well. Its prongs run deeply into the fork blade and form an immensely strong joint at this vital place. At the other end of the front forks, too, the fork-ends are drawn to shape from the taper tubing forming the blade. They are therefore vastly superior to the pressed fork-end, and are yet strong enough to render the machined sold fork end unnecessary. The company claim, indeed, that their fork-end is superior to the solid piece.

Another Raleigh feature, introduced for this year, is the improved mudguarding. The mudguards are wider and deeper, and better enamelled. Moreover, the stays are all double-wired, whereas on some makes only the more expensive models have this refinement. The Raleigh caliper brake is simple but powerful. The chain-wheel incorporating three 'herons' heads' has become one of the most common sights of the road. And finally there is the special hub, a fine piece of work with a slender, pencil-like barrel, containing a tough, hard spindle with glassy-surfaced cones, while the cups, formed from the solid metal and specially hardened, are shrunk on to the barrels.

First-class Finish

The Golden Arrow has all these features and many others. As its name implies, it is golden in exterior finish, but the usual bright parts are chromium-plated, and the effect is highly satisfactory to the owner who gets some store on appearances. Particularly was this the case with the Golden Arrow which I have had under test. One of the options in the specification is the white celluloid Bluemel Noweight mudguards. This 'option' was exercised by the unknown potentate who made up my Raleigh for delivery, and the white, gold and plating form a pleasing ensemble.

The handlebar is a chromium-plated Lauterwasser with 2 in. forward extension, and it carries, in addition to the substantial sponge grips, a pair of very effective and powerful levers operating the caliper brakes, which, I noticed, were of the single-bolt-fixing type, and apparently very light. Certainly they worked well.

The wheels are 26 in. by 1 ¼ in. Endrick rims, chromium-plated, with spokes plated by special process and producing quite an arresting wheel as it revolves in the sunlight. Tyres are, of course, Dunlop. I say 'of course,' not because there are no other tyres, but because the Raleigh-Dunlop partnership is one of the best-known alliances in the trade.

My Golden Arrow was a three-speed model. It had the Sturmey-Archer close-ratio hub, which, as most cyclists know, gives an increase of 12.5 per cent, and reduction of 11.1 from normal. Sturmey-Archer gears are nowadays beautiful pieces of work, both in appearance and performance. I never had an instant's uncertainty or trouble with my gears, nor could I detect anything 'unsolid' about the running on indirect gears. Tastes differ, I know, but I found the close rations exactly what I wanted on any road that didn't flutter up and down between sea-level and the thousand-foot mark. But the Raleigh and Sturmey-Archer (nearly synonymous terms in manufacture) have an ideal partnership. The quality of the bicycle helps to make the gears easy, and the correctness of the gears lends an extra touch of refinement to the running of the bicycle.

A Raleigh sports touring bag with tools, and all the usual extras, help to complete the Golden Arrow, which is sold, with three-speed, at the remarkably low price of £6 19s. 6d.

On the Road

When I took the Golden Arrow on to the road, my first impression was of the perfect balance which, with the well-raked front forks, gave that indefinable feeling that the bicycle itself is consciously helping over the rough roads and round the awkward bends. I have heard it claimed that the proof of a bicycle's suitability is the rider's feeling that  he is one entity with his machine; the two combining to form a perfectly-working engine. There's a great deal in it, too, but it is a theory which will simply not fit unless there is some refinement in the bicycle.

I rode the Golden Arrow around for many hundred of mile, finding a delight in slipping from one gear to another just for the whim of making the work easier than was really good for on the smallest incline. A handsome bicycle, the Golden Arrow, and a thoroughbred at a very modest price. I congratulate the Raleigh company, and all who buy the Golden Arrow.

For their Golden Jubilee in 1937, Raleigh featured a special "Jubilee Week" at their dealers while continuing to distinguish its design and production methods from lesser makes. Nottingham Post 7 June (left) and 4 June (right). Credit: British Newspaper Archives

The improved Golden Arrow of 1937 figured in a return of the Raleigh Cruising advertising campaign, Nottingham Post 16 July (left) and 14 May (right). Credit: British Newspaper Archives

The 1938 Raleigh Golden Arrow

The 1938 Raleigh Golden Arrow ladies model.


1938 specification changes
  • new Heron's Head detachable pattern chainring replacing the RRA pattern one, 46t for gents, 44t for ladies standard
  • added extra cost options of the new Sturmey-Archer close-ratio AR hub and stainless steel spokes
Although the Golden Arrow remained largely unchanged from the previous year, it, like almost all cycles in Britain at the time, cost a lot more in 1938: its long held £5 19s 6d purchase price rising to £6 12s. This was forecast and occasioned by substantial increases in worldwide steel prices owing to the defense build up prior to the Second World War.  And whilst 1937 had record cycle sales as customers anticipated the increases, it resulted in dismal sales at the beginning of 1938.   

Raleigh's 1938 catalogue was certainly one of its finest and had a unique theme of showing, with each model page, details on the manufacturing process of specific components or frame details.  Its colour processing was also better than the 1937 one and the Golden Arrow looks rather brighter. Although it will be admitted that these early polychromatics aged poorly and what was brilliant gold evening turned a rather chalky muddy colour.  Credit: V-CC on-line archives.  

The ladies Golden Arrow in the 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

1938 Raleigh Golden Arrow specifications

Raleigh Golden Arrow, 1938 mini catalogue. Credit:

Raleigh Golden Arrow ladies model, 1938 mini catalogue. Credit:

The Golden Arrow in the 1938 U.S. brochure. This model was perhaps the best selling of the range exported to America at the time. It's worth noting that Americans were more conservative than their British counterparts in that the standard colour was black with chromed fork and the gold scheme was optional.  Of the many examples of the model in the United States, none appear in the gold.

1938 Raleigh Golden Arrow  (all photos credit: bobbiker, via Flickr)

A beautiful and all original 1938 (serial no. AE 27713) Golden Arrow, another U.S. imported one. This features an AW-8 rear hub and the early version of the SA trigger shifter. 

1938 Raleigh Golden Arrow (photos credit: ateichman via Flickr)

An original condition Golden Arrow with build details captured especially well.  The hub is an AW-7 and this is another U.S. export model.

The 1939 Raleigh Golden Arrow, its final year.


1939 specification changes
  • option of steel mudguards withdrawn
  • new Raleigh pattern shallow Highgate 'bars (as fitted on the Super Club model) fitted to both gents and ladies machines replacing the Lauterwasser (gents) and North Road (ladies) 'bars previously fitted
  • stainless steel spokes standard
  • new pattern saddle bag
  • saddle now Terry Super Double Texture 

After a most successful five-year run, this was the last model year for the Golden Arrow. With its 67° angles, it was by then a bit old-fashioned and in terms of promotion, had lost its pride of place as Raleigh introduced new, more upright framed club models like the Super Club.  Large consignments of Golden Arrows continued to be exported to Raleigh in America during this time, however, where it remained very popular and had far less competition than in the Home Market.  

"Stylishly finished, good looking mounts. Their specification will convey an excellent idea of the high standard to which have they been built"-- the Golden Arrows in the 1939 brochure. 

The 1939 Raleigh Golden Arrow specifications

The Golden Arrows in the 1939 mini catalogue.

The 1939 Golden Arrow in that year's U.S. catalogue.

In its final year, the Golden Arrow still featured in Raleigh 1939 advertising featuring the machine with the new 8 v. Dynohub introduced that year whilst the advert on the left is one of the first to reference the new Sturmey-Archer four-speed AF hub.  Nottingham Post, 9 June (left) and 31 March (right). Credit: British Newspaper Archives.

1939 Raleigh Golden Arrow (photos from eBay (UK) auction March 2018 by the bicycle department)

One of the best, all original Golden Arrows is this wonderful survivor which was sold on eBay (UK) in March 2018.  Not only is it in the comparatively rare gold colour, but is also fitted with the original 12v. Sturmey-Archer Dynohub.  The hub is an AW-9 (indicating 1939). And unlike so many photos of restored or historic cycles, this was favoured with superbly presented ones.  

The 1934 Humber Streak. Credit: V-CC on-library


When Raleigh bought the cycle business of Humber (all of their patents, trademarks, dealer agreements etc) on 17 February 1932, little time was wasted in effecting the decision to immediately shift cycle production, sales and distribution to Raleigh in Nottingham but under the direction of Humber's A. Gough. Newspaper reports at the time noted that ""For some time past, the Humber factory at Coventry has been unable to afford the cycle division adequate freedom of action, but this difficulty will be overcome by the transfer to Nottingham."

Nottingham Evening Journal, 17 February 1932. Credit: British Newspaper Archives

So it was that effective 1 March 1932 Humber's entire range of cycles was now wholly manufactured by Raleigh in Nottingham. This arrangement continued throughout the 1933 model year so that during this time Raleigh were fabricating two quite distinct model line-ups whilst work was immediately undertaken to devise an unified product range that retained sufficient distinctions among the two marques.

Of the original Humber range, two club models were manufactured at Nottingham in 1932-34-- the Humber Club Model no. 32 and the Humber Blue Streak no. 38-- both of which had only been introduced c. 1930 and were quite up-to-date and superior models. The Club was described as benefiting from "the experience of many racing men have been incorporated in the design of this light, nippy and fast model." Indeed it had better features than the Super Sports and soon to be introduced Humber equivalent, the Humber Streak, and more comparable to the later Humber Clipper. 

The Blue Streak was rather like the Super Sports/Streak and priced the same.  It was one of the first to incorporate colour styling being attired in a unique Duo blue enamel with the fork and frame in light blue with silver head, the mudguards and lugs in dark blue while the rims had light blue centres and and chromed brake surfaces. The fork ends were chrome-plated.

The Humber Club Model (1930-33) was manufactured by Raleigh at Nottingham March 1932-August 1934. Credit V-CC on-line library
The second of Humber's club models, the popularly priced Blue Streak (shown above from the 1932 catalogue) was replaced in 1934 by the Humber Streak, the Humber version of the Raleigh Super Sports. Credit: V-CC on-library.

The Raleigh-made Humber Blue Streak of 1933 by which time the colour scheme was simplified to one shade of blue overall with a silver peak head.  

The Humber range for 1934, the first full model year under Raleigh ownership and design, featured two new Raleigh designs adopted for the marque: the Super Club (the Raleigh Record Ace) and the Streak, the Raleigh Super Sports.  

These models were in no small measure pioneers in that they were the first examples of "badge engineering" in the cycle trade. Essentially the same machines in terms of frame and components, built on the same assembly line and dispatched from the same factory yet with distinctive elements to maintain the identity of their original marque.  After building pre-existing Humber models from the 1932-33 season in Nottingham, Raleigh set to work at the same time adopting frame and component details of their own range so that one line could be made simultaneously yet retain distinctive marketing elements.  

Thus the basic Raleigh Super Sports was adopted as a distinctive Humber model by incorporating the Humber-Beeston twin-blade front forks. This was devised by Humber in the mid 'twenties but owing to extra production work entailed to manufacture it was limited only to one or two top-end models.  Raleigh reworked the design to facilitate its efficient and economic production and it soon was a feature of most Humber models from 1934 onwards.  Additionally, Raleigh designed a beautiful and characteristic chain ring incorporating the famous Humber "dancing men" logo as well as specific Humber lamp brackets.

So it was that the Raleigh Super Sports was transformed into the Humber Streak for the 1934 season, both models inaugurating a new era for club machines for Raleigh/Humber.  The name was taken from the popularly priced original Humber club model, the Blue Streak, and was priced the same, £5 19s 6d.

Humber hallmarks... the Duplex fork as on a 1930s Sports model... and Humber chainset for club machines... as adopted by Raleigh for the new Humber Streak.

The Humber version of the Raleigh Super Sports, the Streak, in the 1934 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The specifications for the 1934 Humber Streak 

The ladies version of the 1934 Humber Streak featured upturned North Road 'bars, smaller 44t chainring and rubber pedals. Credit: V-CC on-line library.


1935 specification changes
  • Lauterwasser 'bars, celluloid-covered instead of Marsh bend 'bars
  • option of Ivory livery withdrawn, maroon or blue remaining at no extra cost

The Humber Streak in the superb 1935 main catalogue. Credit: Sturmey-Archer

Rather more mundanely presented in Humber's secondary 1935 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-library

The 1936 Humber Streak. Credit: V-CC on-line library


1936 specification changes
  • optional colour finishes withdrawn

The Streak got pride of place in the centre of the 1936 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-library

The first page of the centerspread.  Credit: V-CC on-library

The specifications on the opposite page. Credit: V-CC on-library

Humber Streak advertisement, Cycling 3 April 1936. Credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History

Humber Golden Streak, 1937. Credit: V-CC on-line library


1937 specification changes
  • standard livery was now gold cellulose including the fork and pump. Option of chromed fork at extra cost
  • black livery with chromed fork remained an option at no extra cost
  • new pattern detachable chainset, 46t replaced Humber "dancing man" fixed chainring, fluted cranks
  • brazed on mudguard eyes on the seat stays and front fork, designed specifically for the twin set of stays employed with detachable celluloid 'guards.
  • braze on pump pegs
  • saddle now Terry "Oppy" no. 1238
  • model name is now Humber Golden Streak

A new and striking finish is not the only recommendation of this latest Humber. A glance through the specification will reveal those features so dear to the hearts of clubmen and which go to make it so desirable a mount.

One of the peculiarities of Raleigh in the late 'thirties was naming or renaming models based on their livery and specifically either gold or silver cellulose.  For a firm that was renown for its classic dipped black enamel, this newfound infatuation with colour finishes was perhaps understandable, but it created yet another layer of name variation for what was essentially the same model as before.  

Having decided, quite appropriately, to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary in 1937 by offering the Golden Arrow in gold cellulose, Raleigh also offered the Humber equivalent also so attired. Renamed the Golden Steak, this was also available in the traditional black.  And like the Raleigh, all of the improvements to the model introduced that year were also found on the Humber including the use of the Super Club version of the RRA detachable chainring, brazed-on mudguard fixing tabs while the Humber continued to feature the characteristic "Duplex" front fork of the marque. 

The Humber Golden Streak in the 1937 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

The ladies version of the 1937 Humber Golden Streak, featuring North Road 'bars, 44t Super Club/RRA chainring and rubber pedals. 'Designed from the first to the last for the sporting lady ride, the 1937 Golden Streak surpasses all previous models. The specification leaves nothing to be desired, whilst the golden finish will earn golden opinions.' Credit: V-CC on-library.

Humber national newspaper advertising for 1937 was very much centred on the sports and club models. All from the Coventry Telegraph. Credit: British Newspaper Archives.

The Humber Golden Streak of 1938. Credit: V-CC on-line library.


1938 specification changes
  • optional black finish withdrawn

Unchanged from 1937 but costing a lot more, the Humber Golden Streak in the 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The ladies version of the Golden Streak in the first 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The Humber Golden Streak in the second 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

The ladies version of the Humber Golden Streak in the second 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

Humber Streak with the new Dyno-Hub and showing the conventional front fork which replaced the Duplex fork for the 1939 season, Cycling 6 July 1938. Credit: Okonomiyaki via Flickr

Humber Golden Streak, 1939


1939 specification changes
  • option of steel mudguards withdrawn
  • conventional tapered round front fork instead of Humber-Beeston Duplex model
  • new Raleigh pattern shallow Highgate 'bars (as fitted on the Beeston Club model) fitted to both gents and ladies machines replacing the Lauterwasser (gents) and North Road (ladies) 'bars previously fitted
  • new pattern saddle bag

The Humber Golden Streak in the 1939 catalogue, its final appearance.

Specification for the 1939 Humber Golden Streak

The final national advertising for the Humber Golden Streak, Daily Herald 24 May 1939

The Raleigh Record of 1935.


Of all Raleigh's club models of the 1930s, the various incarnations of the Record model are the most numerous to the point of being confusing.  The Record, which was the first Molybdenum steel frame for Raleigh, was one of its pioneering and proved true racing machines from 1931-33. This was the model which Charles Marshall rode to several R.R.A. records and on which the first version of Sturmey-Archer's close-ratio three-speed K series hubs were proved.  It formed the basis for the improved Raleigh Record Ace for the 1934 season.

For full details on the original Raleigh Record 1931-1933 see:

The Record might have enjoyed a long and well-deserved retirement. Instead, it was resurrected in name and various forms for much of the rest of the decade and in both Raleigh and Humber variants and with different tubing.  

The briefly revived Raleigh Record of 1935 was arguably the finest pre-war club machine of the firm and one that was only offered as a Raleigh, there being no Humber badged equivalent of this version. 

Retaining its original Molybdenum tubed frame, the Record had the same chainset as the RRA and was offered in 20", 21" and 22" sizes (like the RRA) when all other Raleigh and Humber club bikes came only in 21".  It also featured braze-on mounting tabs for the quick release Bluemel's "No-Weight" mudguards with separate spear-point extension which were standard with this model. Lauterwasser 'bars, celluloid-covered, were fitted as was a top quality Brooks leather saddle. Befitting a model that was a true early '30 club machine of the best class, only a front caliper brake was provided.  

The Record was also available in a de luxe touring version with North Road handlebars, front and rear caliper brakes, 26" x 1⅜" wheels and rubber pedals.  As such, it was the second of several efforts (all unsuccessful) to by Raleigh to market a top-quality touring sports roadster. As with other attempts, the Record at £7 17s. 6d. proved too expensive for too limited a market and was only offered in 1935. 

The revived Raleigh in the 1935 catalogue, it was offered only that one year.

The specification for the 1935 Raleigh Record including the optional touring configuration.

The Humber Clipper of 1936. Credit: V-CC on-line library


The Humber 'Clipper' is not just a bicycle-- it is an example of real craftsmanship combined with modern engineering precision-- a machine which will give you many years of cycling enjoyment.
Adding to Raleigh Record confusion in the mid 'thirties, Humber were not immune from the indecision in Lenton Blvd. over this model. Although in its case, the rebranded Clipper managed to be the same machine for an entire two model years, 1935-36.  Lacking the 1935 Record's molybendum frame, it presaged the 1936 Record model by retaining a quality specification including radial spoked front wheel (as on the RRA and the Humber Super Club), Bluemel's celluloid 'guards with braze-on mountings on the seatstays and forks and quick release fitting and Laterwasser handlebars.  Priced at  £6 12s. 6d. it was a worthy upgrade  from the Streak model.  Like the Raleigh version, it was liveried in black enamel with a gold-coloured head tube.  

The new Humber Clipper, actually a re-tooled version of the revived Raleigh Record but without its molybendum frame, was introduced at the Olympia Cycle Show in London in November 1934. 

The 1935 Humber catalogue was one of the finest ever produced and included this charming depiction of the Clipper. Credit: Sturmey-Archer

The new Humber Clipper model in the second 1935 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

A striking advertisement for the new Humber Clipper in Cycling 10 April 1935. Credit: V-CC on-line library

The Humber Clipper of 1936. Credit: V-CC on-line library


1936 specification changes:
  • Lauterwasser 'bars now chrome-plated instead of black celluloid-covered.

The Humber Clipper in the large format 1936 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The specifications for the 1936 Clipper

The Humber Clipper in the second, smaller format catalogue for 1936. Credit: V-CC on-library

Advertisement for the Humber Clipper, Cycling 15 July 1936. Credit: Graces Guide to British Industrial History

Humber Silver Clipper. Credit: V-CC on-line library.


1937 specification changes
  • model name now Silver Clipper
  • new livery is silver cellulose including pump and fork. Chromed front fork extra cost option
  • black livery with chromed fork no cost option
  • Shallow Highgate 'bars, chromium-plated now standard
  • saddle is now Brooks B-15
  • Sturmey-Archer KS three-speed close-ratio hub gear standard

Beautifully finished in silver cellulose and with every feature that makes for strength and lightness this is essentially a clubman's mount. The Sturmey-Archer close-ratio 3-speed gear gives wings to an already fast machine. 

For the 1937 season, the Clipper was rebranded as the Silver Clipper reflecting its new all silver cellulose paint scheme as well as getting new Shallow Highgate 'bars, Brooks B-15 saddle and now fitted with a Sturmey-Archer KS close-ratio three-speed hub.  The price went up to £7 7s.

The Humber Silver Clipper of 1938


The Humber Silver Clipper in the main 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-library.

The Humber Silver Clipper in the second 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The Silver Clipper was last featured in the 1939 catalogue but, along with the also cancelled Beeston Club and Golden Streak, listed under "Additional Models"..... "supplied while stocks last" in the 1940 brochure.  Credit: V-CC on-line library. 

The New Record of 1936.  


For 1936, Raleigh retooled the Record to match of that of the Humber Clipper introduced the previous year. The New Record, no. 40, like the Clipper, dropped the Molybdenum frame and, like the rest of the club range, was offered just in 21". Otherwise, it retained most of the superior components and frame features of the Record.  More conventionally, it was now fitted with front and rear brakes as standard and had a Brook racing mattress saddle.  The Lauterwasser 'bars were now chrome-plated and livery was the same as the Golden Arrow: black enamel with a gold head tube, but the forks were also enameled rather than chromed.  All this dropped the retail price to a more competitive £6 12 s. 6 d. 

Another year and another version of the Record: the New Record in the 1936 catalogue.

Specification of the New Record

The Raleigh Silver Record of 1937


1937 specification changes
  • model now called Silver Record
  • frame now made of "Chrome Molybdenum and high carbon tubing"
  • Brooks B15 leather saddle
  • Shallow Highgate handlebars instead of Lauterwasser
  • Stock colour now Silver cellulose including pump and fork.
  • Option at no extra cost of black enamel with all chromed fork
  • Sturmey-Archer KS three-speed close-ratio hub now standard

A stylishly equipped, beautifully finished, silver and chromium mount, upon which it is obvious unusual care and attention have been lavished. Next to the Record Ace, the most completely equipped 'sports' in the range. Fitted with everything of the best, a more imposing or attractive machine is impossible to imagine. 

For its latest reincarnation and last before the War, the model was renamed Silver Record and suitably attired in cellulose silver including the fork and pump.  The machine could also be had in black with chromed fork and the later was also available as an extra cost option in the silver scheme. The frame was now made of "Chrome Molybdenum and high carbon tubing" and one surmises the main triangle tubes were in the former and the stays and fork in the latter. The frame size remained limited to 21" only.  A Brooks B15 leather saddle was now fitted and the 'bars changed from Lauterwasser to Shallow Highgate.  Finally, the Sturmey-Archer KS close-ratio three-speed hub was now provided as standard.  This made for a thoroughly attractive and high class machine, once again second only to the RRA in specification, and with a price of £7 7s. 0d. reflecting its quality. 

1937 Raleigh Silver Record all photos credit: Veteran Cycle Club, courtesy Iggy Pont Lezica

Serial no. 44389E. This beautifully restored example belongs to the V-CC.

1937 Raleigh Silver Record  (photos credit: Mike Gerrish via Flickr)

A rare 1937 Raleigh Silver Record and an early one (with a K series rear hub with a 1936 date code) that has been set up with North Road 'bars and appearing all original. 

The Silver Record of 1938 


1938 specification changes
  • chain ring changed to Heron's Head detachable, 46t

Raleigh Silver Record, 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

Raleigh Silver Record, 1938 mini catalogue. Credit:

The 1939 Raleigh Silver Record


1939 specification changes
  • stainless steel spokes as standard
  • Sturmey-Archer AM medium-ratio three-speed hub now standard

c. 1938 Raleigh Silver Record (photos courtesy Barnstormerbikers via Flickr)

A truly "barn find" c. 1938 Silver Record from the United States in traditional black with chromed fork. Note the silver-painted head peak. 

The new range of Sturmey-Archer hub gears for fast club riding, time trialing and racing prompted parallel development of new Raleigh models around them. 


Concurrent with Raleigh's leisurely "Cruising" promotion, the firm was also back into Blue Riband record breaking.  In 1936 they created a new Raleigh-Sturmey Archer team to actively compete in the classic era of British road records, essentially long-distance individual time-trialling between set points.  This was more to promote the new range of racing and club hub gears by Sturmey-Archer than the cycles themselves.  The exploits of Sid Ferris, Charles Holland and Bert James captured the attention and imagination of cyclists be they experienced "testers" or just punters.   

Starting with the AR hub (three-speed, close ratio) introduced in November 1936, then the AM (three-speed medium ratio) a year later, Sturmey-Archer revitalised the hub gear and made substantial inroads with selling it for sport, competitive and leisure cycling.  For Raleigh, of which Sturmey-Archer was a wholly owned subsidiary since their founding in 1903, it resulted in both increased demand for sports cycles and an impetus to introduce new models featuring the new hub gears or offering them as extra cost options (at lower prices than if purchased separately).  

At the centre of it all was Charles Marshall, a competitive cyclist of the highest caliber, dean of Racing Raleighs and champion of the Sturmey-Archer hub, who was both Manager of the Raleigh-Sturmey Archer team, and also had a major role in the design and development of a new generation of lightweight Raleighs for "fast club riding" and to cater to an increasingly experienced and demanding market of sport and recreational cyclists.  These might be considered, to use current parlance, as "crossover" machines blending the more upright geometry of the RRA with even more up-to-date features like the Russ fork.  And all were designed to use the new Sturmey-Archer close- and medium-ratio hub gears.  All of which conspired to produce a true Golden Age of Raleigh Lightweights and competitive racing in the four years up to the outbreak of war.  

1937 marked the high point of cycle production in Britain between the wars when a total of 2.5 million bicycles were manufactured. But trading conditions worsened when, with the gradual build-up in defense spending and armament production, the cost of steel rose sharply resulting in substantial price increases the following year.  The record sales of the previous year, in anticipation of more expensive cycles, could not be sustained and 1938 began with a marked decline.  Weekly production at Nottingham was reduced to 6,000 cycles and there remained a lot of unsold stock. By summer, sales were down 38,000 from 1937's record levels and work hours cut.

To spur sales,  Raleigh introduced the first of a new series of cycles expressly designed for "fast club riding" incorporating the latest developments whilst retaining a moderate price point, starting with the Special Club Sports of 1938.  

Raleigh Super Club Sports, 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library


Designed to meet the increasing demand for a moderately prices fast moving club racer the "Special" provides the ideal machine for the sporting rider bent on increasing both speed and mileage. This model has been specially designed for fast club riding and the specification has been arrived at after consultation with some of the most prominent English riders of the day. With brazed-on fittings and Russ type forks it represents unequaled value for money.

Raleigh (U.S.) catalogue, 1938

After a glorious summer of record breaking rides for the Raleigh-Sturmey Archer team on Raleigh Record Aces with the new Sturmey-Archer close-ratio AR racing hub gears, autumn saw the introduction of a new model for the 1938 season, the Raleigh Special Club Sports.  Its name alone suggested its purpose while its design and features embraced the most up-to-date modes and methods of far more expensive and sophisticated machines.  

Unveiled at the 1938 Cycle Show at Earl's Court in London in November 1937, Cycling of 17 November reported:

Another new model is the Special Club Sports Model 43, designed especially for fast club riding. It costs £6 19. 6d.  With close or wide-ratio Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub the price is increased by 21 s., or with the new A.R. ultra-close ratio hub as used by S.H. Ferris on his record-breaking ride 25 s. 3d. Extra. This model has a most interesting specification, including 71 degree frame of 21 ins., brazed-on fittings, Russ forks, double-sided rear hub with fixed cog and free wheel, Raleigh caliper brakes, shallow Highgate bars on adjustable stem, and Bluemel's "No-weight" quickly detachable white celluloid mudguards.  
Cycling,  17 November 1937

The new Raleigh Super Club Sports was beautifully presented in the 1938 catalogue, one of the finest ever produced by the firm. Credit: V-CC on-line library

Specification for the new model in the 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

Raleigh Special Club Sports, 1938 mini catalogue. Credit:

This was first Raleigh, other than the top-of-the-line Raleigh Record Ace, to incorporate "upright" angles (71˚) parallel. This had first been incorporated in the RRA in 1936 so was considered very up-to-the-minute by Raleigh. The Super Club was rather vaguely described being constructed of "light gauge high carbon tubing" which being characterised as such was apparently neither the H.M. Tubing or chrome-molybdenum tubing as used in the RRA. It could have indeed been a lighter (22 g. possibly) version of the standard 2030 carbon steel tubing used for all models other than the RRA, Charles Holland etc.  

The Special Club also was the first Raleigh to feature the famous "Russ Fork", so named for the well-known independent London frame builder Ernest F. Russ and one of the great fads of the immediate pre-war years among clubmen.  The fork featured a unique straight line until the last four inches which featured a distinctive and pronounced "swoop" offset which was reckoned to give a stronger fork and a more resilient one at the same time since road shocks were not transmitted up the entire fork blade as with more traditional transitional offsets.  

The marvels of the "Russ Fork" as explained in the E.F. Russ catalogue of 1932.  The Special Club Sports was the first Raleigh to incorporate this.  Credit: V-CC on-line library.

In some respects, the Special Club Sports was old-fashioned and traditional as if to prove its bona fides to true "clubman" of the competitive sort, the "testers" of time trialing whose all-black kit was matched by all black, conservative mounts.  Indeed with its all black livery, relived only an all chromed-fork, it resembled the Record Ace.  The bold gold SPECIAL CLUB sideways lettering on the seat tube, however, was sufficiently attention grabbing.  

Also noteworthy was that although Raleigh had already begun to offer models with Sturmey-Archer hub gears as standard, the Special Club Sports was not one of them.  Like a traditional club machine, it came with fixed/free single speed rear hub with the option to fit a hub gear at extra cost:
Sturmey-Archer close or wide-ratio 3-speed hub, 21/- net cash
Sturmey-Archer close-ratio (AR) 3-speed hub, giving 7.24% increase over normal, and 6.76% decrease (as used by Ferris on his "End to End" and 1,000 miles record ride) 25/3 net cash

Stainless steel spokes, 3/6 cash

Review of the Raleigh Special Club by "Nimrod", Cycling 19 January 1938

Specification from the review. 
Text from the review:

Club riders are already well catered for in the range of bicycles by the Raleigh Cycle Co. (Nottingham) but the latest addition, shown for the first time at the Cycle Show at Earl's Court last year, satisfies the demand for a high quality lightweight at a moderate price. This new mode, named the Special Club, retails at £6 19s. 6d. with a specification conforming in every detail to the standards demanded of the clubman.

I had no difficulty in finding a comfortable position immediately on the model I had for test, the upright design enabling me to place the saddle so as to ensure that the maximum power was transmitted to the pedals.  The handlebar, on an adjustable stem, were chromium plated and provided a comfortable grip, whilst for hill climbing or riding against a stiff wind they allowed me to pull with might and main.  My other point of contact with the machine was of course at the pedals and these were of the racing rat-trap pattern and gave the feet plenty of room even with heavy shoes.

Most of my journeys on the Special Club sports model were business trips and my daily ride of thirteen or so miles to and from the office includes a mix of rough roads, cobbled street and tram lines that assume a most treacherous surface in wet weather. My Raleigh, however, behave splendidly and over all these surfaces rode steadily without any trace of slid-slip or skidding. Particularly I was pleased with the steering that showed what a perfectly designed and balanced frame had been used with the Russ type round tapered front forks that combined a pleasing appearance and vertical resilience and lateral stability. Throughout my riding of this machine I found it remarkably responsive and lively and having once got used to the new saddle I was quite comfortable. Pottering or fast club riding came alike to this bicycle and its performance at speed was commendable for its steadiness.

Braking was also up to the general high standard. I have previous experience of Raleigh side-pull caliper brakes and knew that I could rely on them in all circumstances, and my trust was not misplaced in this instance. Adjustment of the brake shoes was made by a knurled nut at the side of both the front and rear brakes. The brake levers are exceptionally well designed enabling easy manipulation whilst a small detail for which I have much praise is the manner of fixing to the handlebar. By a special arrangement of the lever bracket no projections come into contact with the thumb obviating the possibility of chafing the skin of the thumb, as sometimes happens when holding the handlebar close to the lever.

I had one puncture during the course of my test and this gave me the opportunity of proving for myself the quick detachability of the wheel and easy replacement. Raleigh finish is well known for its brilliance and durability and the black enamelled frame with chromium-plated front forks and usual bright parts gave a distinctive and attractive appearance that any clubman would be proud of. The Special Club model has been specially designed for fast club riding as the name suggested and the specification has been arrived at after consultation with some of the most prominent riders of the day. My test certainly confirmed all of the claims made for this machine and convinced me of the excellent value offered for the moderate price.

Cycling, 19 January 1938


1939 specification changes
  • stainless steel spokes as standard
  • Sturmey-Archer hub extra cost options extended to new AM medium ratio
  • Sturmey-Archer new trigger control as extra cost option

The Special Club Sports in the 1939 brochure.

The 1939 catalogue featured exceptionally detailed and fine illustrations for the models.  The handsomely conservative Special Club Sports was the last new Raleigh lightweight traditionally attired in dipped black enamel with chromed front fork.  

The Special Club Sports in the smaller version of the 1939 catalogue. 

Evening Dispatch 15 May 1939. Credit: British Newspaper Archives

1939 Raleigh Super Club Sports (all photos courtesy Jon Bentley)

A beautiful original example of a 1939 Raleigh Super Club as offered on eBay (UK).  With an AR-8 hub so an early one.  

The Raleigh Super Club appears to have been production through 1939 but also is listed in the 1940 catalogue as an "additional model" available whilst stocks last so most likely not produced that year.  It was replaced by the Lenton Sports for the 1940 model year.  The Super Club proved to be the last new Raleigh Club machine in the classic all black livery.

Humber Beeston Club, 1939. Credit: V-CC on-line library


An entirely new model for 1938, designed to incorporate all the latest advances called for by the experienced club rider, including 71° angle frame, Russ type fork and brazed-on fittings.  

The Raleigh Super Club was offered in 1938-1939 in a Humber badged equivalent, the Beeston Club no. 88, identical in price and components except for plain chainring, different fork crown and Humber pattern lamp brackets.

The Humber Beeston Club appeared in two different catalogues published in 1938. Credit: V-CC on-line library

The Humber Club in the second 1938 catalogue. Credit: V-CC library

Cycling's "Nimrod" reviewed the Humber Beeston Club in the 8 June 1938 issue.

text of the Cycling review:

A neat and well-finished machine for the keen clubman at a popular price.

With a new to meeting the needs of the club ride, Humber Ltd. (Lenton Boulevard, Nottingham) this year introduced a new model designated the Beeston Club. The moderate price of £6 19s 6d. Makes it an attractive proposition for those riders who cannot afford the extra luxury of the Super Club model. The specification has been well  chosen and the general impression of the appearance and finish of this machine is one of neatness.

My test machine was exactly as the specification on this page. When using a single gear, I prefer to ride a fixed wheel, and having changed the wheel round, adjusted the saddle and handlebars to suit me, I rode home from the office.

Although the frame was of an upright design, with seat tube and head tube at an angle of 71 degrees, I was agreeably surprised at the smoothness of riding over uneven roads. The bicycle seems to glide along with a minimum of effort and the steering was a remarkable for its steadiness. I was particularly pleased with the nicely raked front forks which gave the necessary degree of resilience.

Neatness is the keynote of the whole machine, as I have already remarked. The lugs are cutaway, fishtailed and carefully filed, the round tapered chainstays and seat stays add to the clean lines, and the narrow barrel lightweight hubs ran sweetly when the wheels were turned.

I was content most of the time during my test-riding of the Beeston Club to potter leisurely around, but occasionally I tried a little hurrying and stomping up hills. On these occasions I found that I could rely on the machine for a lively response to my efforts, and the rear triangle, withstanding vigorous thrusts valiantly.

Braking is always a very important point on a bicycle, and the Humber Beeston Club is well equipped in this respect. Front and rear caliper brakes provide smooth and certain retardation under all conditions. They are well-designed, with comfortable solid levers, and can be relied on in an emergency.

A Brooks narrow, leather top racing type of saddle and shallow Highgate handlebars are admirably suited to the sporting rider, and the kitbag supplied will carry all the necessary kit for a day out.

As to finish, the Humber Beeston Club is in the highest class. Brilliant black-enamelled frame and chromium-plated bright parts, including the complete front forks, give it a striking appearance, and the Bluemels "Noweight" white celluloid stand out in sharp relief.

Experienced club men will see at once the many attractive features incorporated in the Beeston Club model and it should enjoy much popularity on account of its many excellent points and moderate price.

For an extra charge of 17 s. 6d., the Sturmey-Archer Patent Dynolamp can be fitted and stainless steel spokes cost an extra 8 s. 6d. 


Fitted with the new Sturmey-Archer four-speed A.F. gear, the 'Golden Four' model, the latest introduction by the Raleigh Cycle Co., Ltd. (Nottingham), will at once appeal to the hard-riding clubman and the fast tourist. 
Cycling 31 May 1939

One of those rare Raleigh models that never appeared in a catalogue and rarely advertised, the Golden Four is perhaps the most obscure.  Indeed, it was a model contrived solely around a single component, but an epoch-making one at the time: Sturmey-Archer's long awaited first four-speed hub gear.  Introduced to the market in April 1939, the AF hub had already made headlines in the cycling world for its use by Raleigh Sturmey-Archer team member Tommy Godwin on his record breaking year mileage feat.  It was essentially the AR close-ratio hub with an additional lower gear giving a 23% reduction from normal, something long desired in hilly or windy conditions.  

The big cycle component event of 1939 was the release of Sturmey-Archer's first four-speed hubs, the close-ratio AF in April and the medium-ratio FM in November. Credit: Sturmey-Archer

For Raleigh, the AF hub gear offered the prospect of reinvigorating club and sports cycle sales which were lagging with war scares which had now gone a step further into real preparations.  The core market for club machines were precisely the young men now liable for call up into the Forces and obviously less likely to invest in a new bicycle.  Moreover, the build-up of defense production continued to pressure the cost of the high grade steel used to manufacture both the cycles and the components and it was essential to spec and price cycles at the lowest possible purchase cost to spur sales.  

All of these factors coalesced very quickly into the Raleigh Golden Four.  The entire machine was new but adopted from the Super Club.  Its essential frame was retained including the 21" frame size, the cutaway lugs, round taper chain and seat stays, but instead of the "light gauge high carbon tubing", it was made of conventional Raleigh tubing.  This was most likely occasioned both by availability and cost of the lighter tubing and to reduce the total price of the machine.  Gone, too, was the Russ pattern fork and instead a conventional round section, gradual taper fork (as on the RRA) was fitted.

Interestingly, alloy mudguards (most likely Britiannalloy) were specified for this model rather than the now customary Bluemel celluloid ones and appear identical to the J.P. Britton ones fitted to the post-war Raleigh Clubmans 1948 models.

Credit: Cycling, May 1939, courtesy Peter Jourdain

text of the above report:

Fitted with the new Sturmey-Archer four-speed A.F. gear, the 'Golden Four' model, the latest introduction by the Raleigh Cycle Co., Ltd. (Nottingham), will at once appeal to the hard-riding clubman and the fast tourist. The fittings has been well chosen, as a glance at the specification will show, and the price of £7 5s. Is certainly quite reasonable. A model for the girl rider is also available at the same price, with 44T chainwheel, handlebar on adjustable stem without extension and rubber pedals. These models will certainly receive considerable attention in view of the inclusion of the four-speed gear which has enjoyed much popularity since it was first introduced earlier in the year. The Raleigh range now includes a real comprehensive selection of variable geared mounts from which even the most fastidious will be satisfied. 


The Golden Four proved very short-lived and didn't last long into the war. Its mention in the 1940 catalogue was limited to a brief listing under "Additional Models" in the back and only "while supplies last".  It may well be that its distinctive gold cellulose paint was suddenly unavailable at the onset of the War and its frame was quickly adapted to the new 1940 Silver Four and Silver Three models.  

The Golden Four reduced to an addenda in the 1940 catalogue. 

Raleigh patriotically flew The Flag on the cover of its 1940 catalogue, a year that saw Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the beginning of the Blitz and Raleigh still making bicycles through it all.  


We like to win matches not wars, although if we must have wars, we can win those, too.  But unfortunately, the new spirit was not universal, while we played or swam or cycled or walked, other preferred to march.
The Lion Has Wings, 1939

When Great Britain declared war against Germany on Sunday afternoon 3 September 1939, Raleigh Sturmey-Archer team member Tommy Godwin, competing for the world's mileage record, still put in a full day's run on his RRA. And Raleigh continued to produce bicycles for the commercial market for just as long as they could get the steel and other materials to make them.  Petrol rationing resulted in an urgent demand to buy new bicycles whilst they were still available. New orders flooded in and production was already at 7,500 a week. By that November, sales were up 80 per cent over the previous November.  Reflecting increases in the prices for materials more than an effort to gouge the customer, cycle prices were increased 12.5 per cent by the end of September.  With more orders than they could fill and the Nation's mind on other matters, there was no Cycle Show that autumn amid big changes in the plans for the 1940 season by all makers.  

Nevertheless, Raleigh and Sturmey-Archer still carried on with some of their planned 1940 programme of new models and promotion of the new FM hub which was introduced in November 1939.  The 1940 catalogues for both Raleigh and Humber were released in April. Raleigh's range of cycles, of course, was severely rationalised with the Golden Arrow, Silver Record, Special Club, Golden Four among the models cancelled, but club and racing cycles remained part of the diminished line-up and would continue to do so two years into the war.  Indeed, their promotion increased being tied in with the new four-speed hubs and Raleigh stressed the sales of machines complete with the new hubs and indeed designed new models around them.

By 1940 Raleigh advertised its catalogue more than a specific model, by which time those were increasingly hard to procure. Any advertisements depicted roadsters as they were the main selling product in wartime.  Nottingham Post, 18 April 1940.  Credit: British Newspaper Archives

In addition to surging Home Market demand, Raleigh were also "encouraged" (in the way only an economy which was now almost wholly government directed could do) to increase its non British Empire exports to offset the massive wartime imports of raw materials, foodstuffs and armaments from America. New Raleighs continued to be dispatched and sold in the United States in large numbers throughout 1940. Overall, Raleigh manufactured more bicycles in 1940 (276,000) than in the previous year (217,000) despite severe restrictions on steel supply and shortages. Net profits rose from £407,790 (1939) to £471,030 in 1940.

1941 represented the low ebb for Allied war efforts yet Raleigh started the year turning out 6,000 cycles a week, but mostly were for HM Government and export orders.  No catalogue was printed that year indicating both uncertainty as to what could be produced and the little point in promoting a product already in critical supply.  Raleigh continued advertising but more to keep its name before the public and featuring patriotic associations with Sir Walter Raleigh than promoting special cycle models.  Sturmey-Archer dropped the new four-speed AF and FM hubs sometime in 1941 leaving only the  AW and AM hubs in production.  Whilst there was no catalogue printed that year for either Raleigh or Humber, a new Spare Parts catalogue was published in March 1941 in keeping with emphasizing keeping machines on the road. Even so, it stated "Spokes and Nipples Are Not Now Available" and spares were only supplied for existing machines upon proof of serial number.

By 1942, most of the Company's resources were directed towards war production with Raleigh being the largest producer of shell and bomb fuses in the country.  Cycle manufacture was drastically curtailed.  Then, too, the Sturmey-Archer plant was turned over almost entirely to war production and manufacture of hub gears ceased by mid 1942.  On 31 May William Raven, Works Director, retired over differences with Chairman George Wilson as to how to go forward under very trying circumstances. The decision was made to limit the models offered to the public solely to roadsters (the Popular, Dawn and Sports). The club and racing models were officially withdrawn although it's not known just how many were even still in production by then.  It was finally the end of the road for the Raleigh club cycle until after the War. 

But before the end, there were still two more new Raleigh club machines to see out a fruitful six years that established the type as a linchpin of the Raleigh product and market, one that would resume and find greater and more sustained success with Victory which Raleigh more than did its part to achieve.

The new Lenton Sports of 1940.


Despite the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, it outwardly appeared "business as usual" for Raleigh initially.  There was no National Cycle Show that year (and it wasn't resumed until 1948) so the new models were not announced or revealed in any detail other than as depicted in the catalogue that year.  

A seeming casualty of the war was the Raleigh Super Club which was replaced by a very similar model, the new Lenton Sports no. 44, its "light gauge high carbon steel" frame with "cut-away and fishtailed lugs" was not carried over to the new model. This was instead built of conventional steel tubing and had plain lugs (like the Charles Holland Continental).  The 71° angles and the all chromed Russ pattern fork remained.  Also new was the Pelissier style dropped 'bars in chromed steel as fitted to the Charles Holland Continental with black sleeve grips instead of the old style sponge grips.  

New, too, was the availability of the model in a ladies frame version, no. 44L, also in a 21" frame. This also differed from the gents model in having the Shallow Highgate 'bars of the former Super Club and rubber pedals instead of rat-trap.  For the first time, rubber sleeve grips were fitted instead of sponge Shockstop type grips.

The new Lenton Sports featured a Wrights racing mattress saddle instead of the Brooks B-17 of the Super Club.

Although the stock model was traditionally supplied single-speed "fixed and free," a full range of Sturmey-Archer hubs was offered as optional fit including the new four-speed AF close-ratio and FM medium-ratio with trigger control.

Both models featured a new "special metallic blue" livery with, judging from the catalogue depictions, a slightly darker shade for the head tube.  

The short-lived ladies model of the Lenton Sports which was withdrawn in 1941 before the 1942 catalogue was issued. 

1940 Raleigh Lenton Sports (all photos credit: Rebalrd, via Flickr)

Not surprisingly, one of the few surviving examples of a 1940 Raleigh Lenton Sports is in the United States.  Oddly, this is identified by the owner as a 1948 Lenton and has been repainted with correctly duplicated transfers, although the colours seem not to be the advertised metallic blue. Regardless, a very rare and beautiful machine, the last of the pre-war Raleigh club machines. 


1942 specification changes
  • Ladies model withdrawn
  • Sturmey-Archer four-speed hubs now no longer available and only AW and AM offered as an extra cost option
  • Sturmey-Archer Dynohubs (12v. and 8v.) withdrawn from production

There was no 1941 catalogue and by the time the 1942 (and last for the duration) one appeared, the Lenton Sports was already curtailed, cut-back and had but six months before it was finally cancelled as the war consumed all.

By 1942, Sturmey-Archer had ceased all production, after a little more than year, of its new four-speed AF and FM hubs as well the Dynohubs so these were no longer offered as options. The ladies frame version, too, of the Lenton Sports was gone by then.

By the time it appeared in the 1942 catalogue, the Lenton Sports was sharing the same page with the Record Ace, the Charles Holland Continental and H.M. Submarine Swordfish.  She was sunk by a mine on 7 November 1940 and the three Raleighs, too, were casualties of war and out of production by mid 1942. 

The Raleigh Silver Four of 1940, the last new Raleigh club machine for six years. 


The last new Raleigh club bikes for the duration were more about the gears than the cycles, the Silver Three and the Silver Four, like the equally short-lived Golden Four, contrived around their Sturmey-Archer hubs. In the case of the Silver Four, the brand new (introduced in November 1939) FM medium-ratio hub and sold complete with it for £8 15 s. 6d. including the new trigger control. The Silver Three was sold with the AM hub as standard.  

The achievement of these new hubs, already proved under the most arduous conditions by Raleigh Sturmey-Archer rider Tommy Godwin on his record breaking Year Mileage run, was severely overtaken by the onset of war.  Conversely, Raleigh stressed in 1940 the sale of these complete machines as well as those including Dynohubs, to maximise profits and sell the machines and components while they were still available.  

Although in some respects replacing the withdrawn Silver Record if by name alone, these were not of the same quality, of course, in terms of frame and were essentially the same as the Golden Four of 1939.  Their livery of "Special Metallic Silver" was apparently easier to source in wartime than that model's gold cellulose. They also reverted back to Bluemels celluloid mudguards when it's presumed the alloy ones of the Golden Four were immediately curtailed at the onset of the war.  

Both were available in ladies frames and proved to be the last such Raleigh club machines until the post-war Raleigh Lenton Sports was made in such a model starting in 1951.

It is not known how many of these machines were actually manufactured or sold and to the author's knowledge none have been preserved, neither do used machines figure in any of the newspaper classified adverts (as do Lenton Sports of the same era).  So an authentic 1940 Silver Four with an FM hub surely constitutes a "Holy Grail" for the collector of Raleigh lightweights!

The new Silver Four and Silver Three in the 1940 catalogue featured a reference to the use of their hubs by Raleigh Sturmey-Archer rider Tommy Godwin in his world's mileage record.

The Raleigh Silver Three, ladies model, 1940

The new Humber Blue Streak of 1940.  Credit: V-CC on-line library.


The Humber version of the Raleigh Lenton Sports revived the Blue Streak name (model no. 97) and like the Raleigh, replaced the Beeston Club as a less expensive club machine but retaining "upright angles" and Russ type fork. Like the Raleigh, this was finished in a "special metallic blue" with a darker blue peak head and all-chromed fork. The stock version of this was sold as a single-gear fixed/free but emphasis was made on the full range of optional Sturmey-Archer gears including the new four-speed AF and FM models.

Like the Lenton Sports, the Blue Streak's Pelissier handlebars had rubber sleeve grips instead of the sponge grips of earlier models. And a ladies model was also offered with Shallow Highgate 'bars of the former Super Club and rubber pedals instead of rat-trap.

The new Lenton Sports featured a Wrights racing mattress saddle instead of the Brooks B-17 of the Super Club. Unlike the Lenton Sports, the Blue Streak is listed as having celluloid 'guards from the onset rather than the alloy ones spec'd for the Raleigh its first year.

Like Raleigh, Humber managed to offer a full range in 1940 and maintained, as best possible amid shortages and deference to government contracts, normal commercial trading.  That year, of the total 292,000 cycles Raleigh manufactured, 32,000 were Humbers.  How many were the new club models is unknown but cannot have been many.  Indeed, it is possible the range didn't even last through the year.  The Humber 1942 catalogue, the last printed for the duration, has none of the club models depicted or listed and they were most likely only offered in 1940.

The Humber Blue Streak in the 1940 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library

Humber Silver Cloud Four, 1940. Credit: V-CC on-line library


The last new Humber club bikes, the Silver Cloud Three and Silver Cloud Four, were identical to the Raleigh Silver Three and Silver Four.  And as the revived Blue Streak, possibly only offered during the first few months of 1940.

Humber Silver Cloud Four and Silver Three in the 1940 catalogue. Credit: V-CC on-line library.

The ladies Humber Silver Cloud Four. Credit: V-CC on-line library


Cover of Raleigh's 1942 (and last for the Duration) catalogue. 

Raleigh to-day is pulling its full weight in the National effort, and whatever difficulties may lie ahead, the Company is resolved to uphold the world-wide reputation of its good name and the quality of its products.  When Victory is achieved, the vast Raleigh organisation enriched by war-time technical advances, will be even better equipped to satisfy the ever-increasing demands for its products.
Raleigh 1942 catalogue

Although Humber discontinued their club cycle range by the end of 1940 to concentrate on the far more in demand roadsters, Raleigh continued to nominally offer their lightweight and club models well into 1942 although it doubtful many were manufactured in any meaningful quantity. Indeed, the component specific Silver Three (AM hub) and Silver Four (FM) and Charles Holland Continental (AM) were dependent on their availability of their specialised Sturmey-Archer hub gears and probably the first withdrawn.

Effective 1 October 1942 and only announced via an addenda to the price list for the existing catalogue,  Raleigh advised that other than the Popular, Dawn, Sports and Tradesmen's Carrier, "all other models listed in this catalogue are now withdrawn" and added "Dynohub lighting set and Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear are not now available."  After two years of striving and to some measure achieving continuing commercial cycle production, Raleigh finally capitulated to wartime conditions and whilst they never ceased cycle manufacture, almost of all it now went for government orders.  

The epitaph for the pre-war Raleigh club and lightweight range as written matter of factly in a price list addendum of 1 October 1942: ALL OTHER MODELS IN THIS CATALOGUE ARE NOW WITHDRAWN.

So it was early autumn 1942 that Raleigh finally officially withdrew the last of their lightweight and club models from production-- the Raleigh Record Ace, Charles Holland Continental and Lenton Sports --  like so much else, all "gone for the duration." Still, in the eight years since 1934, Raleigh had succeeded in making such machines (and the hub gears that went with them) a significant part of their line-up and indeed identity.  Club machines, lightweights and specialised hub gears all would return in the immediate post-war years in improved form and fulfill the promise of putting Raleigh back in fast company.


Raleigh, Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand, Tony Hadland, 2012
Raleigh and the British Bicycle Industry: An Economic and Business History, 1870–1960, Roger Lloyd-Jones, M. J. Lewis, 2017

The Growth and Structure of the Bicycle Industry, N. B Hudson, 1960 (manuscript held by the V-CC library)

The Bicycle
The Cyclist

Bike Forums
British Newspaper Archives
Graces Guide to British Industrial History
Sturmey-Archer Heritage
Three Speed Hub
Veteran-Cycle Club

Individuals (as identified with posted photos/materials on the web)
via Flickr: Eak Moy, Barnstormerbikes, Ateichman, Bobbiker, Mike Garrish, Rebald.
via eBay: Jon Bentley and thebicycledepartment
Iggy Pont Lezica (V-CC) 

Additions/Corrections/Contributions welcomed
contact the author at

© Peter C. Kohler