Oldest known surviving first-owner of a Hetchins
19 March 2023

Charles Palfreyman purchased a Hetchins new in 1948. He and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated his 100th birthday in 2023. The bike has been refurbished and still has much of its original kit (tyres and air are, of course, newer). Please see below. (Mouse-over for captions.)

Charles' son Terry sent the following details: Hetchins nr. 473177 chromed frame, bought by Charles Palfreyman January 1948. The frame and parts were purchased after Christmas 1947. Collected from Newcastle Upon Tyne railway station on 29 Jan 1948. Built and used regularly by Charles Palfreyman for many years until the late 1960ís. The bike then passed to son Terry who used it until his early 20ís when it went into dry storage. It was brought out around 2000 and used for a charity ride and then returned into storage and remained there until early 2022 when Charles decided, at aged 99, [that] he needed a project. The aim, to restore the bike to working order before the telegram from the king would arrive in January 2023.

The frame was stripped, cleaned and polished. Wheels cleaned and greased, reassembled with new perishable parts. Gears and brakes overhauled. Front forks straightened (thanks David Miller), cleaned, repainted and reassembled with new bearings. Seat cleaned and refurbished using Leather conditioner. All original hardware cleaned and reused where possible.

A further note from the Editor: this is one of the most amazing and heartwarming Hetchins stories I have heard. The original shop ledgers show the entry for this frame (see below). 23 1/2 stands for 23.5-inch seat tube. V stands for vibrant (curly) stays. 473177 is the frame number: 47 is the year of production, this being the three thousand one hundred seventy-seventh frame made since they started counting in Aug. 1935. 28/1/48 the date of sale. F unknown. 5096 was the invoice number. Price: 18 pounds 10 shillings. The lower ledger entry: 27 = 27-inch wheels (the alternative was 26-inch). Hyman's nearly illegible scribble is COMP(-etition model); 7/8 stands for the frame geometry; DC stands for double (plate fork) crown.

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