Thomas Witcomb, a steel worker in London’s dockyards, began to build bicycle frames badged the ‘Witcomb Flyer’ in 1928 in his East Ham cellar.
His son Ernie started working for E.A. Boult Cycles in the 1950s and by 1958 had saved enough money to buy the business and start trading as Witcomb in Woolwich London with Wally Green as frame builder.
Stan Brittain rode the 1957 Tour de France on a Witcomb.
Ernie’s son Barrrie was born in 1943 and at the age of 15 apprenticed as a frame builder at JRJ Cycles in Leeds, returning to London in 1959 with JRJ’s frame builder Malcolm Barker to join the family business which was now based in Tanners Hill Deptford London.
For the next 20 years Witcomb Cycles was a successful business making frames for not only their own shop but also Rotrax, Sid Mottram, Velosport and others. They sponsored local teams and Barrie raced as an independent and was also a mechanic to teams from Great Britain, USA, Canada and Raleigh from 1974 to 1980.
During this time many young frame builders learned their trade at Witcomb Cycles including Americans Ben Serotta and Richard Sachs
In 1972 Barrie Witcomb went into business with Ed Allen of Sports East, Connecticut USA. Branded Witcomb USA, Barrie exported ‘Witcomb’ products to be sold in the States. A factory was opened in Llanelli Wales to build assembly line, inexpensive bikes for Ed Allen. The venture lasted 8 years.
The London site was closed in May 2009, and the business announced an intention to move production to Wales. This does not appear to have materialised.