Bill Philbrook

4-6 Arden St., Gillingham, England

Updated 11.20.2010

“Bill Philbrook served his apprenticeship I believe at the Claud Butler “school” of frame builders, (Bill Gray, Fred Dean & Geo. Stratton et al) he became an exceptional frame builder, certainly worthy of the title master builder and a major contributor to the heritage of British bespoke lightweight frame builders, he was as well known for his ideas and innovations as well as for the supreme quality of his builds.”

“He had a small shop in Gillingham, Kent where he built not only his frames but also his own workshop tools, but the majority of his work carried other shops brand names and logos as he was often commissioned to build racing and
touring frames for many different independent cycle outlets, I remember Youngs of Lewisham (SE London) being one of the many who used Bill to build their top of the range racing frames, these were badged up as a “Grandini”, they very distinctive with their lugwork and were often thought to be an Italian marque to those who were unaware of the frame’s provenance, even to a young ‘oik of club rider like myself back in the early 60’s the quality of the build was apparent, unfortunately they were far too expensive for my wage packet!”

“The first frame that I can recall seeing with Bill’s own name on the down tube was our club’s time trial champion (Tom Smith/CC Bexley) who had ordered a Bill Philbrook “Special” this was lugless, each oval tube flowed into each other, ultra short wheelbase that you couldn’t put a Rizla fag paper between tube and wheel!, Campag. brake calipers with hidden recessed nuts in the rear bridge and back of the fork crown, modified aero brake levers ……where were the cables? these were routed through the bars and inside the top tube (unheard of back then in 1970), this head turner of a bike was finished in a beautiful shimmering metallic Kingfisher blue that faded through various harmonizing shades into gold and burgundy………….. wish I still had a photo!”

“Bill died in the 80’s and certainly deserves more recognition of his work world-wide, although he still well remembered by enthusiasts over here in the UK. “

Griff King-Spooner (London UK)

owned by Jeff Lyons and photographed by Brandon Ives

Brandon Ives comments about this frame:

“The pictures do absolutely no justice to the quality of the build and workmanship on this frame. This is in my top 5 highest quality frames I’ve ever seen, and is the #1 “bronze welded” frame I’ve ever seen. Something to note is that he has the gussets built into the fork and seat cluster which is a technique I think Hilary mentioned recently. For me the most special part on the frame is the rear dropouts which are hand made from plate steel and then bronze washers are brazed onto them, very beautiful and very clean. “