This is the Photo Album for BuyVintage: to see auction catalogue, visit

Page 519. 1950s Carpenter ‘Olympic Mass Start’ Model

1950s Carpenter

‘Olympic Mass Start’ Model

22.5″ Frame

Rare top-of-the-range Lightweight

in Excellent Original Condition

Frame No 4992

Carpenter cycles are acknowledged by connoisseurs as being one of the best of lightweight cycle frames. They always made orthodox frames of the highest quality and their elegant proportions, superb finish and fine workmanship established a reputation for quality and performance that many thought was not surpassed by any other frame builder. 

- John Gill, Carpenter Marque Enthusiast for the Veteran Cycle Club


I am not a lightweight bicycle enthusiast. My forte is pre-1920s machines and military models. But when I come across an unrestored original bicycle over 50 years old – even a lightweight – something goes zing in my heart and my legs move completely independently of my brain …to walk directly to the cash machine.

This is what happened when my friend Phil brought down a much older bike for an exchange we’d agreed upon, and then added ‘I don’t know if you’d also be interested in buying this other bike I have in the back of the car.’ He knows me too well.

So now I’m the proud owner of a top-of-the-range lightweight Carpenter which, from the marque enthusiast’s published information, would appear to be mid-1950s. I’ve ridden it, and it’s lovely to ride. But it’s ‘not me.’ I’m rather lost when I’m not sitting upright on a big old tub. So, over to you, fellow ebaying vintage cycle enthusiasts. I’m sure there are many of you who feel as I do about a beautiful, well-made machine dripping with lugs and patina.

Maybe the winner of this auction will be the enthusiast who missed out on such a marvellous bicycle back in its day, but is now ready to ride his dream bike?

Or perhaps a hedge fund broker with a healthy lifestyle who recognizes a good investment opportunity, ie riding a bike that only appreciates in value?

Why ride an upmarket modern lookalike bicycle when for the same sort of price you can ride such a fabulous piece of British history?

The bike is excellent all round, mechanically fit, and the cosmetics are untouched original with the exception of the top tube which has been repainted. The bike is straight, and I know you’ll be very happy with it when you receive it.

Worldwide delivery is available of course. Any questions – please phone or email. Good luck! This bicycle has been cherished throughout its life, and I have no doubt that its new owner will also treat it like a member of his family.

























Established in the early 1920s ,the earliest catalogue available to the author, dated 1927, gives their address as H. Carpenter & Son, Head Office and Works, 43,Penton Street, London N.1.  Certainly they had been trading for several years previous to this date – in 1925 they had introduced a range of imported sprint wheels.  Located near “The Angel” of Islington, a locality that was becoming well known to lightweight cycle enthusiasts.  Several of the famous “names” in frame building had their shops in this area of London at this time.

Even at this early period the range of Carpenter frames included two sporting tandems ,a “Special Record Tricycle”, two path frames and both gents and ladies sports models. Clearly they had already become involved in sporting events with some success. They were also innovators of some note having introduced the hollow spindle and the revolutionary forward quick release rear ends (see advert below) which were then adopted by other manufacturers.

In 1929 they introduced a Duralium hub. In the early 1930s reference is made in the catalogues to “Reynolds high-manganese butted tubing” and in 1935 this is referred to as “Reynolds H.M. or 531 tubing”.

During W.W.II the bomb damage to the Islington area caused them to move from Penton Street, and at some period towards the end of the war they relocated to Kingston on Thames where they spent the rest of their life. The address became F.H.Carpenter, 52 Surbiton Road, Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey. They continued their business at this location throughout the ‘50 and ‘60s and had considerable success in competition events with riders such as Mike Gambrill, Robin Buchan and Jack Manning.

In the 1960s, F.H. Carpenter fell ill and had to retire from the business.  For a short period Carpenter frames were manufactured under licence by Swindon Cycles of 90 Commercial road, Swindon who also built Colin Cape frames.  It is thought that this business closed in the early 1970s.

[Info and illustrations with thanks to John Gill]

















FRAME No 4992

According to the Marque Enthusiast:

‘Carpenter adopted a simple sequential numbering system for their frames. All numbers are stamped on the underneath of the bottom bracket and on the front fork tube. Examples:-

Frame          Date          
3511            May 1st  1938                          verified by copy of original receipt
4176            Oct 10th  1947                         verified by copy of original receipt
4532            8th August 1950                       verified by copy of original receipt
5378            24th February 1962                  verified by copy of original receipt
5473            4th April  1964                         verified by copy of original receipt

The earliest Frame Number on the register is 3050  and the latest 5752 . It is reasonable to draw from the verified dates that Carpenters produced around 100 frames per year and this makes dating frames a relatively easy job.’


Trust me to find one that’s different! Though frame numbers were usually stamped underneath the bottom bracket, as you can see, this particular one is enumerated above the bottom bracket.


PAGE 519