Village Caretaker Still Using His Faithful Raleigh Bicycle To Get To Work
THEY were built to last in 1953 when 16 year-old Owen Hook of Haddenham bought his top-of-the-range Raleigh bicycle for �18 from JW Angood in St Ives. Now, 57 years later, JW Angood is long gone, but the Robert Arkenstall School caretaker uses that same b
THEY were built to last in 1953 when 16 year-old Owen Hook of Haddenham bought his top-of-the-range Raleigh bicycle for �18 from JW Angood in St Ives. Now, 57 years later, JW Angood is long gone, but the Robert Arkenstall School caretaker uses that same bike to get to work every day.
Mr Hook, now 73 years-old, paid Angood's the princely sum of 10 shillings (50 pence) a month until the bicycle was his.
"It has been a good servant to me", said Mr Hook. "I have not used it for going on great journeys, mainly for cycling around the village."
The cycle was originally green but Mr Hook took it to pieces and had it resprayed red about 15 years ago. The brake cables and box and the speed cables are original but the lighting system has had to be upgraded over the years.
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"I have now attached a basket to the front as a practical solution for when I use it to go shopping", says Mr Hook, "so it's not quite as dashing as it used to be when I was 16."
When it was fairly new, the bike was involved in an accident which resulted in smashed front forks "but there was more harm to me than the bike", recalls Mr Hook as he remembers the broken collar bone which resulted from the incident.
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"I always liked the look of my bike and never really wanted to change to something more modern", he said. "It was and is my pride and joy". The cycle has always lived under cover which partly explains why it has not rusted and regular maintenance and upgrades mean it is as functional today as it always has been.
Mr Hook has no plans to retire either himself or his bicycle from his caretaking job at the school and will continue to be seen riding around Haddenham. Let's hope the bicycle keeps going for another three years and can celebrate 60 years on the road.
0001: His "pride and joy". A young Owen Hook with his recently purchased Raleigh bicycle which was to serve him for more than 50 years.
0065: Mr Hook now, aged 73, with the bike which has been repainted red and sports a shopping basket - not quite the teenage dream but still pedalling.
Photo: HELEN DRAKE