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Townsends Light Blue Cycle Centre

We are very proud to have been serving cyclists for 128 years and counting.

We are a fourth generation family-owned business, and officially the oldest bicycle shop in Cambridge. We think that’s pretty cool, and so here's a bit of history for you...

Townsends Light Blue Cycle Centre originated way back in 1895 when John Albert Townsend began manufacturing and selling ‘The Light Blue’ brand of bicycles in ‘The Cycleries’ in Norfolk Street, Cambridge. John built that workshop, and lived above it.

In 1900 John built a novelty bike to mark the turn of the century; a track bike with wooden cane wheels and a 100-tooth chain wheel. The silhouette of that bike is the emblem we use today – it’s really quite distinctive. Does the 100-tooth chain wheel make the bike difficult to ride? No, it’s all about the ratio of gears. Is it practical? Also, no. But it’s novelty.

Soon after World War I, The Light Blue brand was resigned to the back-burner as skilled labour ran into short supply, and Townsends eventually became a retailer of other brands of bicycles as mass-produced bicycles became more available.

In the ‘60s the Norfolk Street premises was purchased by the council as part of Cambridge City’s redevelopment programme. As part of the move to Burleigh Street, Roy Townsend added toys to the bicycle offering and the shop became well known as ‘Townsends Toys and Cycles’.

In 1989 an opportunity arose to purchase Ison Cycles on Chesterton Road, which had been around since 1893. The family took the opportunity and expanded the bicycle retail offering. By 1997 the Burleigh Street premises was mainly used for toy sales, whilst Chesterton Road had become the hub for bicycles (pun absolutely intended), and the decision was made to sell the toy shop to concentrate on bicycles.

In 1992, Lloyd Townsend started importing some specialist bicycle parts and selling them to other UK dealers. This became known as Ison Distribution (I.D.), in reference to Ison Cycles. By 1999, I.D. was developing it’s own range of bicycle products to add to the distribution portfolio.

By the mid ‘00s, we were struggling to find bicycles that were right for the Cambridge commuter crowd; lightweight frames, simple gears, comfortable riding position, robust tyres and carrying capacity. So we did it ourselves. The Light Blue was reintroduced with an urban range of bicycles, and they’ve proven a hit amongst our customers ever since.

So to the present day…

The shop is still owned by the Townsend family, and still remains on Chesterton Road. We pride ourselves on offering you competitive pricing combined with the highest levels of customer service. The colleagues that run the shop are all cyclists themselves and have a passion in one discipline or another.

The Light Blue still lives on as a bicycle brand today, revived and developed in house by Ison Distribution. The Light Blue offers an Urban range and a Sport Range which you can check out in store with us, amongst the great other brands we keep stock of.

We will match ‘like for like’ prices for any bikes or products that we carry, and also provide you with our great levels of service.

Visit us to experience our friendly service and to check-out our great range of quality bicycles, parts and accessories that we carry and offer nationwide delivery (excluding complete bicycles) or convenient click and collect from the Cambridge shop.