At the time of the move to Southend in Feb. 1974, Jack Denny was a man of advanced years and sometime during the mid-1970s Alf apparently subcontracted some of the frame production to JRJ (Bob Jackson Cycles) in Leeds. This was a reasonable choice for a number of reasons: Bob Jackson and Alf had been friends for many years; Jackson's master frame builder, Danny Foster, had decades of experience; Jackson Cycles also had excellent enameling facilities (Hetchin had always subcontracted enameling anyway). Jack Denny retired in 1977 but continued to build frames in very small numbers (this is confirmed by people on the ground in Southend, and is also mentioned in O'Neill's article). While it is true that Hetchin's shop was a full-service cycling outfitter, including mopeds, it was the frame building side of the operation which had made it a "marque of distinction." Without a successor frame builder to Jack Denny, the shop might have continued indefinitely, but certainly with less distinction. It is clear that Alf did wish it to continue, and the affiliation with JRJ Cycles appears to have been Alf's solution to the lack of a successor to Jack Denny.
We have long suspected that some Hetchins production was subcontracted to Jackson's from about 1977 onwards (Jackon's web site claims that all Hetchins production was made in Leeds from the mid 1970s, but this is hyperbole); it is impossible to say how many frames were made at Jackson's, after 1977, and how many Jack Denny produced (presumably only occasionally and part-time, as he did not move to Southend but commuted when needed from his home in London). In 1986, some years after his retirement, Jack Denny returned to the Southend shop, partly for promotional reasons. Some improvements were made to the shop in Southend to enable him to make production again, but one person familiar with the Southend shop at that time claimed that Jack could not have made more than 20 to 30 frames and that he re-retired soon after. So far as we know, all frame production ceased in Southend in the spring of 1986; the last frame believed to have been made in the period up to April 1986 is a Magnum Opus and bears the frame number H13268. Frames made at Jackon's premises in Leeds bear 4- or 5-digit frame numbers starting 86xxx. The first one we can positively identify is numbered 8601 from Nov 1984 (extant sales receipt). We must assume that there was a period of overlap, when some frames were produced in Southend and others in Leeds.
In 1985, Alf sold the business to a London businessman (who also bought JRJ Cycles)--see Paul Hetchin Remembers for his reasons why. The new owner placed the operations under new management. Operations continued under this arrangement until about 1989; Alf carried on as a part-time consultant until 1990.
To promote the brand, Alf took a consignment of new frames to a trade show in Long Beach California in 1985. After the show, they were left in the possession of a northern California dealer. Alf (or the intended purchaser) did not claim them, and so they remained in storage for nearly 20 years. Five of them have surfaced. Three of them bear the frame numbers H13265, H13266, and H13267, the penultimate confirmed Southend numbers; two others bear 86003 and 86004, very early Jackson-period numbers.
Above: some of the frames from the Long Beach trade show. (Fotos courtesy of the (sometime)owners.)
Below: Alf at the Long Beach Calif. trade show. (Fotos courtesy of Bob Freeman.)
David Miller replaced the previous manager in 1989; he described the shop in Southend as being in "time warp condition." This included new unused parts and clothing from previous decades, still originally packed. In summer 1990 the property in Southend was closed and sold; the remaining stocks were moved to Jackson Cycles in Leeds in order to manage the two operations without the overhead of two separate locations. Below: a receipt for a Mag.Opus iii dated 28 July 1990, probably one of the last to be sold from the Southend shop, but obviously with a Jackson-build serial number. It was sold "as seen, slight imperfections" and included a phial of touch-up paint.
Jack Denny was born in 1906 and passed on in 1991. Alf was born 24 Sept. 1923 and passed away at the age of 72, just 4 years after Jack.
In 1993 David Miller left Jackson Cycles taking the Hetchins name with him. Since then David Miller has been responsible for (subcontracting) the construction of Hetchins frames. The current frame builder is Paul Riley of Preston. Production is currently running at about 12 frames per year, all bespoke. (Bob Jackson came out of retirement and bought back Jackson Cycles; since that time it has been run by Donald Thomas.)
The article by Hugh O'Neill mentions 1950s lug blanks seen as late as 1982. Another visitor to the shop reported that there were 3 large cardboard boxes of pre-cast cognoscenti lugsets left around and was told by Alf that very few frames had been made in that style as they were not very popular. A source known to the editor who wishes to remain anonymous reported that "There were a few odd lugs (no sets to my knowledge) of Mag.Opus, Mag.Bonum, Experto Crede etc. I suspect from memory, that these were rejects i.e., faults in castings and pressings."
The Editor wishes to thank the following sources for the above information: David Miller (Hetchins), Donald Thomas (Bob Jackson Cycles), Paul Hetchin, and others who were familiar with the shop in Southend at the time.