London Fields Cycles reopens after devastating fire
- Credit: Archant
A community bike shop has risen from the ashes to reopen six months after a fire destroyed all of the stock.
London Fields Cycles held a party on Friday night after a gruelling spell on the sidelines while the shop was being redesigned.
Manager Billy Allpress said the team of 10 staff had tried to turn the devastating blaze into a positive and come up with a fresh new look for their store.
“It has given us an opportunity to start from scratch,” he told the Gazette. “We sat down and designed it so that it had everything that we as staff, and as cyclists, would want to see.
“We’re a real community shop and try to help people who use their bikes every day. But we also do lots of family things and help kids with their first bikes.
“It went really well on Friday and we were busy from start to finish.
“It’s a bit surreal [being open]. We’ve been focusing on this moment for six months so for it to finally happen is nice.
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“We’ve had a busy weekend of selling and it’s just nice to be able to show it off and to talk about bikes again.”
The store is also celebrating its 20th birthday this year after being founded in a squat in London Lane.
“We have a lot of regulars,” continued Billy. “A lot of people have been asking when we are going to reopen, they’re very loyal so we wanted to make sure we gave them everything they wanted from a bike shop.”
The fire in October happened when the shop was closed and the cause is still not known.
“I went in the next morning,” said Billy. “It had really gutted it. You can’t really believe it’s happened when you see it. And it’s a bike shop, you know? There’s not many flammable things. We just didn’t know what to do.
“When I went in the smell of smoke hit me and the bikes were covered in soot. Most of the accessories behind the counter had melted.
“I’m just the store manager but for the owners it is all they know.
“But we’ve tried to make it better, tried to turn a negative into a positive.”
How the bike shop began life in a squat
Back in 1995 Joe Czernuszka was living in Ellingfort Road in a row of squatted houses, as much of Hackney was at that time.
At the end of the street there was a warehouse, which he used to store tools and old bike parts he collected.
Joe started out fixing bikes for his friends and neighbours and eventually built a stockpile of second hand bikes that he then started to sell.
Realising there was a need for bicycle repairs in Hackney, Joe decided to set up a trade account and with £200 made his first order.
London Fields Cycles was born and Joe opened the shop to the public doing repairs.
Shortly after Robin joined and they moved into the first shop at 210 Mare Street.
The shop quickly become integral to the burgeoning cycling culture in Hackney and was soon known as a hub for cyclists in the area.
London Fields Cycles eventually outgrew the original shop and in 2005 moved over the road to the much larger unit where it is today, at 281 Mare Street.