ELMY CYCLES - 100 Years of History
Founded on January 30th 1922, ELMY CYCLES began trading in a small converted front room of no.188 Back Hamlet in Ipswich.
Started by Arthur Turner Elmy the shop was first known as A.T. ELMY and sold Motorcycles, Cycles, Prams and the various electrical goods of the time. The shop also produced it's own range of "Hamlet" Cycles. One of the more unusual features of the shop must have been the Petrol Pump sited in the front garden to serve the passing motorist and Motorcycles. Although the business had opened on January 30th it was to be the 2nd of February before the first item was sold, a pump connection for the grand sum of nine pence. Incredibly the Nine pence still remains today sealed in an envelope untouched since that first day.
Arthur was joined in business shortly after, by his brother Harry Turner Elmy. Business was good and it was to be in 1927 when Harry was left to run the business in Back Hamlet while Arthur along with his wife bought the two 16th century cottages of 62-64 St. Helens St. to convert to a 2nd shop. The business thrived selling all manner of Cycles, Spares and Accessories alongside Prams, Fancy Goods, Bulbs, Radios, School desks and even the odd Motor Cycle.
In 1943 Harry Elmy was enlisted to the Army and consequently the shop in Back Hamlet was closed & Arthur then continued the business in St Helens with the help of his nephew Russell who had left school to work in the shop, then known as A&H ELMY. One of the regular sights for anyone taking a walk down the cobbles of St. Helens St. was the fine array of tyres all hanging with their advertising boards, almost entirely covering the front of the shop.
During the war years A&H Elmy continued to thrive, as people relied even more on their cycles for transport. One of the more interesting moments came as a German Bomb that had fallen in the nearby Cemetery Road blew the entire front of the shop out. Harry was eventually de mobbed from the Army in 1946 and returned home to work, Arthur passed away in 1948.
Harry was well into his 80's when he finally called it a day and left his son Russell to look after things. A man with a shrewd mind for business, Russell had combined a tradition of service with his own personal touch that endeared him to many a customer including always closing up for Lunch and closing all day Wednesdays.
The 1950's, 60's 70's and 80's had seen times of continual change for the business from the recessions of the 50's followed by the Swinging 60's and European Racing bikes, the BMX and Raleigh Choppers of the 70's and the new Mountain Bikes of the 80's along with the entry of Shimano parts from Japan. We also saw the early days of Electronic tills and the introduction of Mobile Phones, Fax Machines and Email.
It was the early 1990's as Russell entered his 60's when it was time to retire and it was to his apprentice Steven Grimwood that the opportunity fell to continue in the traditions of the business. The shop continued to go from strength to strength opening a second store in Hadleigh and another on the opposite corner of St Helens St. to display it's high end specialist Racing Bikes in it's "Performance Centre". Close links were built with the Ipswich Bicycle Club and it's members, and the shop also sponsored and supported many local Star riders with great success.
After being in the small St Helens St shop for over 80 years the area had started to change as the Council moved away, the new Suffolk College was built and the traditional shops disappeared the opportunity was taken to move a few doors up the road, expanding and consolidating both shops under one roof into a bigger 2 story shop with parking to service the expanding enthusiast market.
A grand opening for the new store was duly held in 1997 with Russell Elmy and his family present, with former World Champion Cyclist Hugh Porter MBE as the guest of honour. The early 2000's saw another recession and financial crash, but again Bicycles proved resilient following which off the back of the London Olympics Cycling saw a boom time for leisure and road Bikes.
Now approaching 100 years of trading and 30 years under the ownership of Steven with the assistance of co. director Joanne Newstead, Elmy Cycles is still going strong. We have moved into the next stage of our journey launching our new e-commerce website to serve the growing mail order and "Click & Collect" market while the Global Covid19 Pandemic of 2020 has once again shown the resilience of the Bicycle as many people rely on their Bikes to get around and stay fit.
We look forward to welcoming you to our shop & to you joining us as a friend and Customer and to hopefully seeing you for our Centenary Celebrations soon to come in January 2022. To mark the occasion we have launched a specific website, titled Our Story, to capture the full history of Elmy Cycles in a visual timeline. You can view 'Our Story' here >
We remain a local shop at the heart of the community, serving our customers with top quality products at the best possible prices.
Thank you for your support, we wouldn't be here without you.