The company was first formed in January 1979 in
Burton on Trent, (The First 'Flying Gate' is shown above, a larger version of the image is
available in the photo gallery) moving to its present location in 1984. At
the time I had a small engineering company which was well established and in
one of those moments of lapses I had the idea of building frames, along side
the engineering set up.
As a design engineer and cyclist, I had no
illusions that making frames and getting them established was to be no easy
task, as there were many good long established companies building frames. I
felt something different was required to get TJ Cycles known, but what? that
was the question.
I had recently renovated a 'Baines' VS37 which was an
unusual design of frame and when I rode it I seemed to "go" as if the wind was
behind me, the difference was remarkable.
So the idea was born to
manufacture and bring back the Baines - Whirlwind or VS37, as it was called, in
fact it had a few names, one of which was the 'Gate'. It was designed in 1936
and continued until the company closed in 1954.
The idea born, the next
step was to locate Bill Baines to obtain his approval and rights to manufacture
his design of frame. This was achieved and I re-registered the design and
'Flying Gate' name.
The next consideration was manufacturing, how and
where? The "how" bit, I didn't know how to build a frame myself, so I
advertised and set someone on who knew "how". The "where" bit, I soon saw the
difference in the manufacturing side and therefore set the company up in a
different unit. Then "Marketing" the frame was the next consideration.
The first idea was the most sound and practical idea, but no, through
chance I chose another route. There was an article in "Cycling Weekly" about a
UK/BELGIAN Racing Team being set up , and I thought this would be a good way to
get the frames known. Lets say it did, but it caused a lot of financial
problems. TJ Cycles/Glemp was the team name. I enjoyed the involvement in the
pro-scene, but the cost was very high. I also felt sorry for the riders, but
that's another story. The result of which brought myself and the company to its
knees, so some restructuring had to be considered. by this time I had learned a
few things about the frame building business, and I was taken aback by how some
companies build frames. It is not for me to say who or how, but for a time I
subcontracted my frames to a good professional frame builder who used a good
jig, until I learned how to build a frame and make good precision jigs.
Since then it has been a steady learning curve, one never stops
learning. I have met all types of people in the Cycling World and hope to
continue doing so for a few more years yet, and then maybe I will get down and
write the full history of the 'Flying Gate'.