Norwich cycle shop closes after 125 years in business

Ray and Richard Freeman behind the till in Freeman Cycles in 2000

Ray and Richard Freeman behind the till in Freeman Cycles in 2000 - Credit: Freeman Cycles

It's the end of an era - Freeman Cycles is closing after 125 years in business.

The owner, Richard Freeman, is retiring after working at the company for 50 years and closing the family business in Heigham Street. 

Richard Freeman in the store in 1988, 2010 and 2017

Richard Freeman in the store in 1988, 2010 and 2017 - Credit: Freeman Cycles

"Like most people, the Covid pandemic has made me rethink what I want out of life, lots of my friends are retiring and I really want to spend more time with my grandchildren," Mr Freeman said.

"I've been doing this for 50 years so I thought it was time to hang up the spanners. And my hands aren't what they used to be."

Freeman Cycles have survived some tough times as a business, from the fuel crisis in the '70s through to Covid.

Freeman Cycles in Heigham Street, Norwich

Freeman Cycles in Heigham Street, Norwich - Credit: Freeman Cycles

''We were lucky enough to be able to stay open during lockdowns as an essential service. We kept bikes working when they provided a much-needed escape from home-working and when using public transport seemed daunting," Mr Freeman said.

"There have been lots of great opportunities though - the London Olympics really brought cycling back into fashion and the nation's hearts, which was great for the cycle trade.

Ray Freeman, the former owner and the store's namesake, died in 2016

Ray Freeman, the former owner and the store's namesake, died in 2016 - Credit: Freeman Cycles

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"It's a bit weird to be closing. It's a hard thing to do but I really want to go out on a high.

"I want to say a huge thank you for the custom, support and interesting and amusing conversations we have had over the years with our generations of customers."

The store started in St Benedicts Street in 1896 as Kirby's Cycles, which was owned by Mr Freeman's mother's family.

Kirby's Cycles in St Benedicts Street

Kirby's Cycles in St Benedicts Street - Credit: Freeman Cycles

In the late 1950s, Richard's father, Ray Freeman, decided to break away and start Freeman Cycles. Richard took over completely in the 1990s, with various family and friends working for him over the years.

"It's the end of an era but I have to retire at some point! My daughter, who manages the shop and runs the website is keen to try something new and my wife who also works with me is very happy to be retiring, " said Mr Freeman.

"I'll keep looking after mine, my family and friends' bikes in the future but I think I deserve a well-earned break.''

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