Our Heritage

 


Pearson is quaintly unique. A story organically woven from an early Victorian blacksmith workshop, into the oldest established bicycle business in the world. Each of our five generations have built our success upon trust, knowledge and goodwill through faithful service to a community we have been serving for over 150 years.


We would like to share a portion of our history with you. We have documented our progession from humble beginnings to a community with an expansive global reach.

 

 

 

1860

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Tom Pearson, a blacksmith from Cobham set up store in High Street, Sutton. Developing as a stop-off point for horse drawn trade vehicles travelling between London and south coast ports; Sutton began to thrive as a result of business owners like Tom who brought family, expertise and a strong work ethic. Life wasn’t always easy, but despite living above the workshop in two rooms an in less than sanitary conditions all nine children lived to a ripe old age.


Originally rented from the local miller and baker, the basic structure of the building remaining virtually unchanged for the coming century. With the rhythmical ring of the hammer echoing along the street and the heat from the blazing forge fire, Tom dutifully served the community by crafting and repairing anything metal. Although little else is known of Tom, there is a small clue that he was some sort of cyclist judging by the short peaked cap he wears in his own known portrait.


 

 


 

1889

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With trade progressing and Tom growing older Harry, the second youngest of the nine children took over from his father. As the bicycle becoming an increasingly established mode of transport by the 1880’s and their maintenance rapidly becoming an establish industry, bicycle repair represented an ever growing proportion of operating trade. Attested through the state of accounts - with the majority of value in the store being in cycle stock, Harry made the decisive decision to turn his efforts entirely towards bicycles. As popularity of horse drawn travel was dwindling amongst the community at large, it proved too good an opportunity to miss.


 

 


 

1904

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Harry began develop the first Pearson bicycle model during the formative years of the new century, the ''Endeavour'- with the name being suggested by his first customer. Through skills gleaned from his father, he brazed the frame on the forge with hand operated bellows before they were carried to Croydon Works for plating and enamelling.


Encouraging further growth within the local cycling community, Harry began offering riding lessons at one shilling for half an hour. Indeed, cycling came in with such an impact that most adults could not ride.


 



1916

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Harry purchased the Sutton store from the existing owner, at a great relief to the family who had no lease or security upon the property up until then. Harry and his wife, Mary, had three children and two boys, Arthur and Len who both followed their father to run the business.


 


 

1927

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With the growing use of cycling as an efficient and economical mode of transportation, businesses began to use errand boys and trade bicycles as a staple method of shorter deliveries and collections throughout Britain. Although trade cycles are now a rarity, during the interwar period they were produced in large numbers.

Through the production and sale of humble trade cycles, Pearson helped support local and national businesses foster economic growth and promote a period of national economic prosperity.

 



1939

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At the break of WWII, both Arthur and Len were exempt from military service as part of the home effort. Importantly ‘being of more use keeping wheels turning than in the forces’.  Bicycles and motorcycles were very efficient means of cheap transport for factory workers and public officials as the petrol shortage meant that cars were mainly for VIPs, whilst everyone else walked or cycled.


With industry geared up to war production, there was often a shortage of goods in the shops, the cycle shop had to improvise in many ways with the few spares available. A long waiting list began to form for the few precious new bicycles delivered. 

 


 

1941

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As well as using their cycle trade skills, both Arthur and Len regularly took the night watch for air raids. Our Sutton store became a local night watch post during the course of the war. Night after night, the shop would be attended by at least two people listening out for air raids in order to warn the local community. This nightly vigil was recorded in the air raid book with entries including ‘Gerry didn’t turn up tonight’ dated 10th August ‘41.


Whilst stores were protected from bombing by walls of sandbags with even a brick air raid shelter within the store - Arthur maintained, “If the building had a direct hit it wouldn’t matter what you did, you’d had it”. Luckily the original building remained intact throughout the war.


 



1946

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Our second generation owner Harry, died peacefully only hours after leaving his work bench.

 


 

1947

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Arthur marries and had two boys, Roger and Christopher.

 


 

1965

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Roger took the helm of the business after having completing three years national service in REME. Despite the opposition that he received from the 'old school' values that the previous generation held, Roger was keen to bring the store up to the standard that other retail outlets had achieved and with great success.


By the end of the decade, bicycles were sold alongside mopeds and motorcycles serving a wider variety of customers and better serving the community.


 

 


 

1981

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By the early 1980s, the shop had been modernised - now with Raleigh ‘5 Star’ status - and was capitalising on a booming business climate after the introduction of mountain bikes. It also moved further into the sport of cycling with Roger’s enthusiasm for racing, and particularly timetrials and cyclo-cross.


Introducing a wider selection of Pearson bikes in the form of handmade steel frames, Rodger diversified the range into a number of specific models - a ‘Gold Medal racer’, a full touring bike and ‘the Randonneur’, a lightweight mudguard bike.


 

 


 

1993

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Roger Pearson and his wife, Carol, had three children; eldest son Guy joining the company in 1993 with his brother William following a year later.


 

 


 

1996

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Arthur Pearson died with Roger tragically passing a little more than a month later, having been diagnosed with cancer. Though from the ashes of tragedy, inspired the beginning our annual Brighton & Back sportive in support of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity who aided Roger during his final battle with cancer, raising over £250 000 to date.


 



2012

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Our second store Pearson Performance is opened, 152 years after our original store. Although described as a 'glacial' expansion programme by some, we insist it was a well-considered decision. Concentrating upon the performance element of cycling, Pearson Performance offers Precision Fitting, servicing and repairs, sports therapy and physio which all supported by an in house coffee shop.

 


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2015

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Cycling is bigger and more important than ever and for all the right reasons - promising health, convenience, little environmental impact, sport and personal travel.


With the well-established organisations managing this rise effectively and responsibly, Pearson is continuing to foster, help and grow cyclists the world over providing a service and product that remain unmatched.