Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Alcon bicycles from Marrickville

My father passed his (I guess) mid-to-late1940s-era Alcon road bike onto me and later I (lamentably) passed it on as a trade-in on another bike at Mick Mazza's shop in Illawarra Rd, Marrickville. Now I realise that the bike was probably made just a kilometer or so away from where we lived and that Mick Mazza had a hand in selling the brand, albeit perhaps a few years later. Anyway, the story as I see it... with links....

Alcon circa 1930 bicycle drive detail 76_912 - Sydney Cyclist
Alcon circa 1930 bicycle drive detail 76_912
My first bike... 2 gear ratios, just flip the wheel around to change gear... perfect! (with photos)
Alcon circa 1930 bicycle drive detail 76_912 - Sydney Cyclist
Assume when you say 'Alcon' the frame was made by Bill Connolly of Victoria Rd, Marrickville. If so, not sure if the frame dates back to 1930. Bill was born in 1917 (give or take a couple of years) so doubt if he had his own business at 13. Believe he started making frames from 1943.
BNA - Australian Cycling Forums • View topic - 1948-ish Alcon
Alcon was set up at 312 Victoria Road, Marrickville in about 1948 by Alvia Mervyn Connolly (1918-1974), who (unsurprisingly) preferred to be known as Bill Connolly. Connolly was a former bike racer who was building bikes (employer unknown) by 1943. Alcon derives directly from his name, ALvia CONnolly. I understand that Mick Mazza was associated with Alcon and sold Alcon bikes. As best I can work out the Alcon name disappeared with Bill Connolly's death.
BNA - Australian Cycling Forums • View topic - 1948-ish Alcon
My uncle Alvia (Bill) Connolly made Alcon bikes. I remember visiting him at Marrickville lots of times when I was a small girl.with my father Ron Connolly who was Alvia's older brother. In fact
my brother & I were given custom made Alcon bikes as a Xmas surprise one year. Memories of a workshop with Lionel Cox's
poster on the wall & an Uncle who was always covered in grease. I also remember a cart made out of bicycle parts was pulled around by his Great Dane dog. He also made bikes for Russell Mockeridge. Many happy times were spent at his house with his wife Mary.
BNA - Australian Cycling Forums • View topic - 1948-ish Alcon
My father is Raymond Connolly... nephew of Alvia Connolly. He was telling me about reading your post on this site and sharing many of the same memories as you, especially the huge dog! Cycling has been, and still is, a huge part of his life. I know he would love to catch up with you if possible. Please contact me if you are interested. Thanks, Gemma Currey (nee Connolly)
And so on.... I threw the last one in because I Have Curreys in my family tree... probably no relation but anyway...!

Oh, worth mentioning that the "Alcone" brand is from the Connolly line as well. It seems to have been the racing or premium frame.

Some images of 'my' Alcon, hopefully still out there in the wild...

or checkout my list of Sydney and surrounding airstrips and airports


Mark Sindone said...

That's an amazing Mariickville history all in one bike model! How in the world did you even manage to pull out that kind of information about it? Besides that, it must have been amazing to inherit such a heirloom piece..

gtveloce said...

Thanks for your comment, Mark. I guess it gets personal when a bike is handed down to you. I only traded it in to Mick Mazza to help my sister get a bike her size... if only I still had it! Anyway, that's only one connection here. I grew up not far from where the Alcon was made, that's connection number 2; and many years later I used to train and race with Brad Cox, Lionel's son. Lionel being a pal of Mockridge's, of course. (I even have a cousin who lives on a Mockridge Crescent, would you believe.) And I met Lionel Cox himself of course. So how could I not research this topic?? :-)

Bruce Watson said...

I worked there in my school holidays in 1962, Carl Wilson my neighbour at Ashfield got me the job. If I remember correctly refurbishing ex PMG bikes.

bruce watson

gtveloce said...

Thanks for that comment, Bruce. Yes, as you say Carl Wilson worked at Alcon and from what I've seen is still actively posting cycling-related comments on Facebook. There's plenty of cycling history that needs to be recorded whilst we still can!

Cheers, Rob.