Andrew Ritchie was working as a landscape gardener in London during the 1970s when he came up with the idea for his folding bicycle. As an engineering graduate from Cambridge University, he used his knowledge to build the first prototypes in his bedroom – from which he could see the Brompton Oratory (hence the name). Brompton Bicycles was founded in 1976.
However, the road to becoming the biggest bike manufacturer in the UK was not smooth. Raleigh Bicycle Company wasn’t interested in the prototypes Ritchie had built with money he had borrowed from friends. He therefore decided to build the bikes himself. Initially, Ritchie and one employee built and sold 50, then, with some funds raised from shareholders, 50 turned into 500. Things really took off in 1988 after Ritchie secured £50,000 and moved production to a factory in Brentford.
Today, Bromptons are still manufactured in West London, despite the high rents and rates. This is to ensure that every Brompton is hand brazed and produced to perfection.