1934 Alldays & Onions Gent’s Standard Roadster
Sturmey Archer ‘Model K4’ Three Speed Gears
Alldays & Onions is Great Britain’s oldest surviving engineering company, established in 1650. They started making bicycles, among many other products, in 1885.
You can see their famous chainwheel, below, sporting the company’s ‘A&O’ logo.
Alldays roadster bicycles are very rare, as cycle production direct to the public was not their main product line – most of their cycles were commercial variants, tradesmen’s bikes, tricycles, and they had a contract for many years to supply post office cycles.
This example is in good all-round condition.
Alldays & Onions Ltd History
The company was founded by a family of craftsmen named Onions who manufactured bellows in their shed in the shadow of Dudley Castle. This was in 1650, during the reign of King James the First.
By 1770 the company was trading under the name J C Onions and, having established a virtual monopoly in and around Birmingham, the company soon began manufacturing portable forges in addition to bellows. During the 19th century the company was appointed bellow makers to her Majesty’s ordinance and increased production, supplying forges and bellows to the new British colonies abroad.
In 1885 a merger with a local rival manufacturer William Alldays saw the foundation of a new company, Alldays & Onions Ltd and advances in technology allowed the company to expand into new areas of production including water turbines, centrifugal fans, positive pressure blowers, pneumatic hammers, cupolas, furnaces, smithy equipment and a huge range of cycles and tricycles.
Cycles were made under the name ‘Alldays Cycles.’ They started making cars in Birmingham in 1898, and motorcycles in 1903 at their Great Western Works. When WW1 ended the company produced the Enfield-Alldays series LC, but in due course vehicle production ceased and the company looked to different products for survival.
After World War II, with changing market requirements, Alldays & Onions Ltd establish itself as a market leader in the manufacture of centrifugal fans expanding into the field of dust collecting and chemical engineering. In 1969 the company merged with rival fan company J.C.Peacock forming Alldays Peacock & Co Ltd and in the 1980s the company expanded its factory in Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset and began selling abroad. In 2005 Alldays Peacock was purchased by the world’s leading fan-maker, the German-based Witt Group and became part of Witt UK; manufacturing moved to Halifax, West Yorkshire.
Though they no longer make bicycles, it’s refreshing to see that this manufacturing company has survived, with various mergers and changes, for around 360 years.