Cycling history destroyed

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Memorabilia from one of Norwich's oldest bike shops has been destroyed by fire in an arson attack. Bike designs and trading record from more than 80 years of business at the former Bryants Cycles in St Benedicts Street were lost in the blaze on Saturday.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Memorabilia from one of Norwich's oldest bike shops has been destroyed by fire in an arson attack.

Bike designs and trading record from more than 80 years of business at the former Bryants Cycles in St Benedicts Street were lost in the blaze during the early hours of Saturday morning.

Arsonists are believed to have shoved newspaper under the doors of a storage garage in Adelaide Street shortly after midnight, where the artefacts had been stored since the closure of the shop in 2000.

Charred remains and a burnt out garage building are all that remain of a collection of shop memorabilia which also included old advertising posters, cycling pamplets, and shop furniture.

Police are currently investigating the blaze - which comes two weeks after arsonists torched rubbish outside two blocks of flats in nearby Dolphin Grove and Watson Grove.

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In May arsonists also torched a church hall less than a mile away in Earlham Road, though it is not clear at this stage if any of the incidents are linked.

Chris Bryant, the last owner of the family business, which had been set up by his grandfather in 1918, said while there was little financial value in the items, he was devastated to see the records lost.

“When I closed the business down I took the old paper records, signs and furniture and stored it until we could sort through it,” he said. “There were pamphlets in there going back 60 years and some designs for bikes and records from the shop going back to my grandfather.

“It was like a time warp, I was trying to preserve these things for posterity, 82-years as a cycling shop was quite a record. Then somebody comes along with no thought for anybody else and sets fire to it.

“All of it has been scorched, it's a crying shame. I have got to try and sort things out but 95pc of the stuff has been lost.”

He said he was prepared to offer a reward for information which would help catch the culprits.

“There is a substantial cash reward for anybody who can help the police bring about a prosecution,” he added. “It would just be nice to catch these beggars.”

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