The morning sun crept slowly, coloring the cold blue morning a trace of yellow. I made my way towards the spot indicated by my Google maps, a red pointy dot pointing towards a Goulton road in the Hackney borough of London. Looking around for signs, I noticed the residential area surrounding me – no signs of a shop, much less a workshop. My map led me to a cast iron fence guarding a compound of a couple apartment units; a little search revealed a buzzer on top of a red brick wall, marked ‘unit 2, Kennedy city bikes‘. Within minutes, I was walking inside an apartment, revealing a workshop with giant windows by the side; tires and tools by the walls; and a bicycle in the middle of the room – much like a trophy. James, a tall, gruff man wearing a work apron, greeted me, offered some tea, and started working on the unfinished bicycle chassis.
Started as a hobby, James had been making bicycles for a couple of years. “I wanted to travel cheaper, so I decided to make a bicycle,” He said, stopping for a while to drink his tea; “It ended up not being that much cheaper,” he said before continuing his work. Soon after, he quit his job to open Kennedy City bicycles, and started hand building bicycles for sale. James worked almost two hours straight, almost never once moved his eyes from the bicycle – except for a couple sips of tea.
The Bicycle he was working on was a teal chassis with a honey leather seats; simple, classic, and lovely. At the end of the two hour long process, he declared the bicycle to be done, stood back, and marvel at his work. The sunlight poured through the windows giving the bicycle a yellowish tint, and for once, I have never wanted to ride a bicycle as much as I did then. James shook my hand, and informed me that they are moving to a new – better – workshop. As I walked outside the workshop towards the cast iron gates, I wondered if James, the work that he does, and the kinds similar to his, are the rising modern counter-attack towards industrialization. Young artisans, producing hand crafted, high quality masterpieces; if it truly is the way of the future, I am behind it all the way.