The sales records show a very auspicious increase from the winning of the World's and Olympic Championships in 1936. However, the war years took a terrible toll (metal rationing severely curtailed non-war-related manufacturing). Production and sales recovered in the 1950s, from the introduction of the Latin Series, but fell off considerably in the 1960s when the automobile finally replaced the bicycle as the preferred daily transport vehicle in the UK. The 1970s saw two important developments in the hand-made bicycle production market: 1) mail order houses arose, which put many hand-made frame builders in the UK out of business; 2) a number of Italian frame builders made great progress in the export market (including Masi, Cinelli, Pogliaghi, Colnago, Bianchi, and de Rosa). These factors undoubtedly put pressure on Hetchins, and, despite expanding into the USA market, Hetchin's sales never regained a level to match the promise of the late 1930s and 1950s.
The total accounted-for production from 1934 to 1967 comes to 9492. Total accounted-for sales for the same period comes to 8831. The reason for the discrepancy (661 frames) is not known; they may have been sold later (after the records broke off).
During the years in Southend-On-Sea, Hetchins made a number of fairly plain bikes, many of which were exported, as well as the older styles, such as the Magnum Opus, for an increasingly exclusive clientele. 'The customer got whatever he wanted,' Alf said. For example, see the elaborately cut seat tube embellishment on this 1970s Magnum Opus. The 1970s were strong years for export to the USA, but exact production figures are unknown. In a 1967 article in Cycling Magazine (UK), Alf claimed he was exporting 100 frames per year to the USA and that (Jack Denny) could hardly produce them fast enough (see the final paragraph of the article reproduced below); again, in a 1970 article for Cycling Magazine (UK), Alf claimed that he was making 280 frames per year, 80% of which were exported.
Sales during the Bob Jackson period amount to 238. David Miller says that he has overseen the production of about 12 frames per year since 1993 (with a slight blip upwards during and immediately after the UK's splendid showing at the Beijing Olympics).
10,000 frames can fairly definitely be attributed to the production periods from 1936 to 1967, and 1986 to the present. The gap in the middle must be estimated. Serial numbers for 1968 and 1969 (known from the Hetchins Register) suggest that production was running at about 130 to 140 frames per year. The 10xxx series, and 12325 to 13268 series serial numbers from the early 1970s to 1986 may account for another 1,600 or so frames, many exported to the USA. (13268 is the last known serial number from Southend, April 1986.) Another 111 frames with a different serial numbering series are also known from the 1980s. A conservative estimate would be an average of about 145 frames per year, based on known production figures up to 1967 and subsequent serial numbers up to April 1986. This comes to approx. 2250 frames from 1967 to 1986.
It is difficult to evaluate Alf's claim in 1970 to have been making 280 frames per year, as the last known annual figures from the late 1960s are only half that, and the known frame numbers which carry on from 1968 are not high enough to give evidence of such sustained output, the introduction of the Hellenic model nothwithstanding (75 were built over the next decade). On the other hand, the Italia (or sometimes "Italianate") model proved to be popular, especially in the USA export market, and quite a number have survived. There were both British-(Denny)-built and Italian-built (imported) Italia models.
One possible explanation for the difference between the above conservative estimate of 145, and Alf's claim of 280, is that Alf subcontracted an unknown number of frames to an Italian builder. They were finished and badged as Hetchins, but bore different serial numbers (not accounted for in the above conservative estimate). Perhaps Alf had both the local and the Italian production in mind. However, to date, only one Italo-Hetchins has been positively identified, and it is impossible, on the evidence available, to determine whether Alf was selling as many Italian produced frames as locally produced ones.
We therefore estimate that approximately 12,000 frames have been produced to date (not counting an unknown number of Italo-Hetchins). The Hetchins Register lists approximately 1,900, or roughly 16% survival rate.
For an overview of the different periods of design development, click here (pdf file).