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Raleigh UK, once the worlds biggest manufacturer of cycles, recently stopped volume production of cycle frames. It has now quit what remains of the Nottingham site it occupied throughout the 20th century. Raleigh Street, Nottingham, was the site of a small workshop which in 1886 started producing diamond-frame safety bicycles at the rate of three a week. Frank Bowden, a successful lawyer and convert to cycling, bought the firm in 1887 and in December 1888 founded The Raleigh Cycle Company as a limited liability private company. It grew rapidly and within a few years was a large public company capitalised at £100,000 (equivalent to about £5m today). In 1902, Sturmey-Archer gears were added to the product range. Six years later, Bowden bought back Raleigh, which was to remain in family hands for the next quarter century. By the early 1920s, Raleigh was a world leader, capable of producing annually 100,000 cycles, 250,000 hub gears 15,000 motorcycles and 50,000 motorcycle gearboxes. Raleigh survived the Great Depression well. It acquired Humber cycles in 1932 and the following year started producing a three-wheeler car. In 1934 Raleigh reverted to public company status, as Raleigh Cycle Holdings Ltd, with a share issue of more than £2m (= about £65m today). By 1938, its production of bicycles had grown to nearly 500,000 units per annum and the company had stopped making motorcycles and cars. During the Second World War (1939-45), Raleigh concentrated on munitions work. The name of its budget range, launched in 1938 as Gazelle, was changed to Robin Hood, and Raleigh acquired Rudge-Whitworth. After the war, despite shortages of fuel and steel, Raleighs cycle production rose rapidly. By 1949, it had reached about 750,000, the majority of which was exported. In 1951, Raleigh produced more than a million cycles. But between 1950 and 1962, as increasingly prosperous consumers abandoned the cycle in favour of the car, cycle sales in the UK halved. This led Raleigh in 1958 to resume moped production and later to launch a motor scooter. More significantly, during this period Raleigh acquired two major rival groups: Triumph and Three Spires in 1954, and BSA (including New Hudson and Sunbeam) in 1957. Raleigh itself was then taken over by Tube Investments (TI), whose British Cycle Corporation owned Phillips, Hercules, Norman and Sun. The effect of these mergers was that Raleighs sales figures showed a slight upward trend during most of the 1950s.The TI take-over followed a collaborative venture with Raleigh in South Africa. In 1960, TI bought all Raleigh shares, then handed over the British Cycle Corporation to Raleigh management. Suddenly, TI-Raleigh had 75% of the UK market. Unfortunately, it was a market that was rapidly shrinking. During the late 1960's-1970's Raleigh introduced The Moulton and The Chopper bicycles in a move away from the production of the utility bicycle. Annual sales of cycles in the UK during the last quarter of the 20th century rose dramatically, from around 1.1m to 2.7m. Sales were flat initially, rose steeply in the late 1970s and early 1980s, dipped somewhat in the mid 1980s, then grew until the end of the century. Then came the mountain bike boom and another step change. Adding to the European imports, bicycles from the USA and Taiwan started to come in. In 1987, for the first time, UK consumers bought more imported bikes than British, and imports soon took about 60% of annual UK sales. In May 1999, Raleigh announced its intention to cease volume production of frames in the UK. Author Alan Sillitoe, an ex-Raleigh worker whose best-seller 'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning' was set in the Nottingham factory, said 'Raleigh is a kind of soul of Nottingham. I'm very sad about it.' In early January 2000, a new MD took over and it was announced that Raleigh was selling the remains of its historic site to Nottingham University. The Derby Cycle Corporation (USA) had originally formed in 1986 to acquire various Raleigh companies from TI, hence, from early 2000, Raleigh trades from Nottingham as 'Raleigh-Diamondback', part of a global company.