“Founded by William Chater Lea in 1890 (the hyphenated name was adopted by the company in the 1920s for aesthetic reasons) the company produced Bicycles and components from their establishment in 1890 until the mid-1960s.
Chater-Lea was a British bicycle, car and motorcycle maker with a purpose-built five-storey factory in Banner Street, EC1, in the City of London (now converted into flats) and, from 1928, premises at Letchworth, Hertfordshire. It was founded by William Chater-Lea in 1890 to make bicycle frames and components. It made cars between 1907 and 1922 and motorcycles from 1903 to 1935. William died in 1927 and the business was taken over by his sons John and Bernard. After vehicle production finished, the company remained trading as a bicycle component maker and contract manufacturer until 1987.
The Company began production in a small workshop on Richmond Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1. Due to rapid growth the company moved through a succession of ever bigger premises within close proximity. This included spells on Great Sutton Street, a large premises at 114-120 Golden Lane London EC1 (a site that after they departed became a brewery and is now home to building supplier Wickes) and again to a purpose built five-storey factory at 74-84 Banner Street, London EC1. This beautiful building still stands (see image) but now comprises luxury apartments for workers in the City. By the mid-1920s the company had once again outgrown their space and commissioned a large purpose built factory in the developing new town of Letchworth Garden City. In 1928 the company fully relocated to New Icknield Way East, Letchworth, Hertfordshire.
The factory sat on the same site as the now famous Tab Factory – the No. 1 factory of The British Tabulating Company (known locally as the ‘Tab’) – which produced over 200 Bombe machines for Alan Turing and the team at Bletchley Park, used in the cracking of the Enigma codes during WWII.
Unfortunately, William had died in the previous year and did not get to see the new state of art factory completed. Sons John and Bernard managed the company from its Letchworth site until it was dissolved in the late 1980s.
The company relaunched in 2017 as a maker of high end British manufactured bicycle components and launched its first new products in the summer of 2019.”