The end of an era is fast approaching for long-standing Stafford business Ridgway’s Cycles because, barring some sort of miracle, it will cease trading on Christmas Eve, having enjoyed a run of 45 years in the area.
According to owner Simon Ridgway, the business has been struggling in the poor economic climate with loyal customers forced to reduce their expenses. The rise of the chain cycle shops and cheap supermarket imports hasn’t helped the shop’s viability either.
Ridgway’s Cycles was founded by Simon’s grandfather A.A. Ridgway in Norwich in 1920. Simon’s mum and dad, Jack and Phyllis, and has three kids arrived in Australia in 1963 as £10 Poms.
The family had already attempted to settle in Rhodesia and stayed there for three years but the political situation was even then going downhill. They tried moving back to the UK but the weather was so miserable they applied to come to Australia.
After a few weeks in Rockhampton, Jack saw the light and moved south to Brisbane where he established a small store selling hardware and cycles in Kenmore. Simon and his siblings attended Wellers Hill School.
In 1974 Jack decided to concentrate on selling cycles and rented a store at 629 Stafford Road which was one of a row of shops owned by the Yule family. Other tenants at the time were a hairdresser, a takeaway, a small supermarket, a fruit shop, a butcher, a newsagent, a pet shop and a small chemist run by Ray Yule, who featured in a previous story on the blog.
Simon helped his parents in the shop after school and at weekends and, soon after leaving school, bought it from them. Not that anything really changed, he says, except for the fact that he was now paying the bills – otherwise he was still running errands and obeying orders.
This was in about 1977 or 78 and he took out a loan to buy the business. He says he can still remember it felt really weird for someone his age to be making out a will to set out what would happen to the business in case of an accident.
Sometime in the dim and distant past the shop, 609 Stafford Road, was a Cut Price Store and the evidence is still faintly visible on the floor just inside the entrance.
From the front door of the shop he pointed out to me features that had changed in that time the shop has been at number 629 and then 609 Stafford Road. According to him, the view across Stafford Road and the houses there haven’t changed all that much but many other things in the neighbourhood have.
In those days Everton Park was seen by the rest of Brisbane as being pretty much in the deep bush. Simon’s school friends in Kenmore were amazed to hear that the family was planning to move to the area, it seemed so remote to them.
The area was served by a network of small shops rather than the monster shopping centres we have today. Brookside and Stafford City didn’t yet exist and Chermside still had only a small selection of shops.
Trams came to the bottom of Stafford Road. It was sealed and so was Trouts Road but only to the top of the first hill going away from there. Gympie Road was tarred but Shand Street, Southpine and many others were still dirt. Rode Road was also dirt and ran only as far as the present-day Rode Shops.
In compiling the stories for this blog we have interviewed a number of people who have been resident in the area or run businesses here for a long time. We’re continually amazed at the changes that these people have seen as the area was built up and became a much sought-after residential area.
Unfortunately, some of the changes are not happy and one of these is the difficult circumstance in which Ridgway’s Cycles now finds itself. Simon is heavily involved in clearing the junk that has accumulated over the years getting ready for the closure and the next phase of his life.
Much of the shop’s stock has been marked down dramatically to clear and cycle enthusiasts are invited to drop by to pick up parts and accessories at bargain prices. He will still assist with queries and minor jobs but is not undertaking any more major repairs.