School caretaker rides same bike for 57 years

February 12, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Proud Owen Hook is still riding to work everyday on the same bike he first bought — 57 YEARS ago.

School caretaker Owen, 72, paid 36 monthly instalments of 10 shillings (50p) for the top-of-the-range Raleigh after buying it from a local department store in 1953.

He has ridden the bike every day since, either commuting to work or heading to the shops near his home in Haddenham, near Ely, Cambs.

The three-speed cycle, which was green but resprayed red in 1985, still has its original steel frame, wheels, seat, gear and brake cables, and mud guards.

And the grandfather-of-four still rides it half-a-mile twice a day to his current job as caretaker at Robert Arkenstall School in Haddenham.

He bought the bike after discovering his love for cycling while working as a grocery delivery boy after leaving school at 15.

Mr Hook, who lives with his wife, former dinner lady Ruby, 68, said the bike was an example of British craftsmanship at its best.

He said: ”I used to go passed the bike in the store window and for a long time I could only dream of buying it and I would stare at it for hours.

”When I left school and found a job I went straight down to the store and bought the bike with an agreement to pay for it in monthly instalments.

”I remember thinking it was an absolute beauty and I have used it nearly every day since and it has never let me down once.

”When I was younger I also used it to travel around the village picking up friends and visiting some of my pals. I must have looked very dashing.

”I replaced a blown tyre on it just last week and it cost me more to replace it than I originally paid for the bike almost 60 years ago.”

Mr Hook bought the bike from JW Angwood, in St Ives, Cambs., and the only part he has had to replace through age are the lights, after the originals corroded a few years ago.

It has always lived under cover which has has kept it rust free.

The only time he failed to use the bike regularly was when he lived in Germany while he served as an RAF engineer for four years in his early twenties.

Mr Hook had only ever crashed the bike once after he tried to wipe some mud from the forks as he was riding it and fell over the handle bars.

The bike suffered a broken fork following the high speed crash and Mr Hook broke his collar bone and had to be taken to hospital.

He has no plans to retire or stop using the bike and said he was sure it would continue running smoothly for many years to come.

He added: ”I’ve never wanted to change to something more modern and it is my absolute pride and joy.

”It’s a classy bike and I am convinced it will still be a wonderful bicycle to ride long after I’m gone. It’s a real testament to Raleigh and their craftsmanship.”

Raleigh bikes were founded by Sir Frank Bowden after he purchased a small bicycle shop on Raleigh Street, in Nottingham in 1887.

Taking its name from the street, Raleigh Bikes have become one of the most popular British brands of the last century.

In 2003 Raleigh controversially moved production from their Nottingham factory to the Far East where costs are up to 22 per cent cheaper.

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