Inside M Steel Cycles, an invoice for a bike hangs on the wall. But far from being a regular invoice, this one dates back to 1902, for a bike sold for £10.
“I don’t know how many shops will have one of those on their wall,” said owner Joe Waugh. But M Steel Cycles is one of the oldest cycling shops in the UK, first opening its doors on Gosforth High Street, Newcastle, in 1894.
In the century since, the company may have moved premises but has remained in Gosforth selling bikes under the same name, with ex-Olympic cyclist Waugh at the helm today.
Waugh made his name riding in the Milk Race and competed in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, before he won a gold medal at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. While at the top of his cycling career in 1981, he joined M Steel as a partner alongside his friend and legendary frame-builder, Dave Yates, and Geoff Dobson, who took over the from the Steel family in 1954.
119 years in the making
“I’d just come out of college after completing my accountancy exams, but I didn’t want to be an accountant, I wanted to be in the bike trade,” Waugh said.
The trio created the company we see today and Waugh began riding his own brand of M Steel bikes when he raced. “We were manufacturing our own frames and as I was working for the company it was a natural progression that I would ride their bikes.”
Dobson retired in 2000, and when the company stopped building frames in 2005 Yates and Waugh parted ways, with Waugh taking over as sole owner.
Waugh raced the bikes he built
Although the Steel family has not been involved for nearly 60 years, Waugh wouldn’t think of changing the name. “People asked ‘why don’t you call it Joe Waugh Cycles?’ But Steel is part of Gosforth and I want to keep it going.”
An accident in 1983 prematurely ended Waugh’s cycling career at a time he was considering turning pro, but he still cycles today, occasionally riding to the shop where he works alongside his two sons.
It may be nearly 120 years since M Steel Cycles first opened but the love of cycling is still evident, “This is a passion, we want to see bums on bikes” Waugh said.
Cover Star Waugh in 1981 Winner of stage 4 in the Milk Race
It’s the wheel deal a M Steel
This article was first published in the May 9 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!