The invitation from Will to visit the Palace was definite; 1:30pm Friday. Fortunately, the possible conflict of an invite from Will, Kate & George to visit that other palace was averted & so we were free to get along to the Brompton palace, or factory.
First off for the day was a revisit to Richmond Park, where I had once done laps on my race bike wearing club kit, seemingly “another lifetime ago” (ie pre-Defibrillator days). This time it was after driving Kanga through a Sat-Nav guided tour of so many back streets & finding ourselves on a rather steep ascent – “of course, THE Nightingale Lane… now I understand…”. Onward to the park & unloading Ralph & Robinson, for at least one lap? (The drive turned out to be one of those, “faster to ride…” trips & we couldn’t miss seeing Will later?) Hmmm… steeper climbs in the park than I remember – & the stags seem to have had a busy time (& acting like they owned the place?). Oh well, another lap on another day? Back to our flat & then point our bikes towards the main event.
We struggled a bit to find the Brompton factory. After all, there’s no LED-guided pathway & they prefer to produce bikes rather than entertain casual visitors to reception? Also, Ralph & Robinson were of no help; they may have truly been “going home” – but had forgotten the way! Once parked inside at reception, our host Will (“World’s fastest MD”?) was soon on hand to provide a comprehensive tour. Amongst the memorabilia, I thought Andrew Ritchie’s listing of funding requests, replies, interviews & rejections was rather telling?
I had imagined that my background in engineering & systems (& my wife’s lack of same) may have dulled things somewhat, but no: we encountered an impressive array of sights & facts that were captivating. No previous reports on the brazing systems had accurately conveyed the sophistication & workmanship employed. Quality control & build development was far more effective & concentrated than is obvious in the seemingly unchanged production models. Yes, some new products of late but the ongoing development & “finessing” are worthy recipients of the staff efforts & so encouraging to encounter. So much to the whole visit – operational restructuring & improvements? shifts for the 7-day operations? staff recruitment, motivations & sharing? (all discussed but damn, I should have had a recorder running throughout?).
Sadly, I was not left to my own devices to endlessly wander the factory for the whole day (& then some?) but was truly appreciative of our tour & personal attention. Thanks Will, thanks Brompton – please keep those little wheels rolling out the door.