Soensport or Soens Brothers Name Transfer

Discussion in 'Vintage and Classic Bikes' started by Campfire, 26 Aug 2012.

  1. Campfire

    Campfire Über Member

    I've just unearthed my old Soensport 1970s road bike from the back of the garage. It was unfortunately resprayed in the 1970s so lost it's transfer. Does anyone know where I can get either a Soensport transfer or Soens brothers might be OK, in case I want to re-enamel it. The history of the bike is, it belonged to Pete Matthews when he was Merseyside RR Champion. He sold it to my Dad and then Dad gave it to me. There was a guy at York Cycle Show who sold vintage bike transfers but I've lost his card

    I cleaned it up today and went for a few miles on it and couldn't believe how much easier it was to ride than my Orange Clockwork (which itself is good) A big of adjustment to the narrow bars. I'd love a newer road bike with a smaller frame but that's just a luxury I can't have at the moment unless someone can sell me one cheaply.
  2. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Found this blog posts which mentions someone restoring a Soens who purchased the Decals

    Might be worth contacting them to see where from.
  3. pubrunner

    pubrunner Guru

    The link that Crackle has given you, is probably your best bet.

    If you have no luck, you could try here :

    The Soens brothers had their own individual transfers - Jimmy Soens, Tommy Soens and Eddie Soens. Eddie Soens had a shop that was called Soensport, so if you can't find Soensport transfers, look for those for Eddie Soens, as they would be entirely appropriate.

    If you get it re-enamelled, the frame will almost certainly have originally been done by C & G Finishes of Liverpool; the company is still doing such work . . . . . .

    I've never used C & G Finishes, but they have an excellent reputation in the cycling world.
  4. OP

    Campfire Über Member

    Thanks Crackle and Pubrunner. II used to go into Eddie Soens shop with a friend. I used to race with one of the Soens girls, not sure which one. The bike used to be blue metallic and had the requisite scratches to paintwork that come from road racing. Sadly in those days I wanted it smart and got a friend to respray it.
  5. Bill Soens

    Bill Soens Well-Known Member

    Hello all. Nice to read all the above. My name is Bill Soens - 75 year old son of the late Eddie Soens and I owned the bike shop in Boaler St, Liverpool.

    Sorry to advise the person who is looking for Eddie Soens or SoenSport transfers but I simply ran out of them and didn't renew when I closed the shop down in the mid 60's.

    For your information there were three Soens bike shops - all of who were independent of the others. I built almost all of my own frames- it was only within the last five years that I threw away my old jigs. I did buy in a small number of italian cheap frames in the rough but not more than fifteen and I built over 800. If you look under the bottom bracket you should see a 3 digit number from 001 to over 800. If you can't see it then It isn't one of mine.

    Soens Bros ltd was run by two uncles - Tommy and Dougie - both of whom were painters and decorators. Neither built a single frame in their life - most of their frames were Holdsworth and painted/badged Soens Bros or Tommy Soens. The famous picture of Tommy Simpson on a Tommy Soens was almost certainly a Holdsworth.

    It is still going on - nothing wrong in it.

    Jim Soens had his shop in Lower Breck Rd Liverpool 6. He built all his own bikes but whether Peter Matthews carried on this I cannot say.

    C and G finishes were superb and were able to hand-write the names on frames. Whether they can still do this I don't know. I am going back fifty years. Best of luck. Bill Soens
    dave r, PHL67, FishFright and 8 others like this.
  6. pubrunner

    pubrunner Guru

    Hi Bill & welcome to the forum !

    Your contribution(s) are much appreciated !

    A friend of mine has a Tommy Soens - I'm sure that he doesn't know that they didn't make their own frames.

    Was a relation of yours a cycling team manager ? A close friend of mine was a decent time triallist back in the 50s (Mick Ward) and I'm sure that he mentioned the Soens name - I'll have to ask him again.

    I missed out on a Merseyside frame by Bill Twiddle - I was only interested in it, 'cos I liked the name. I now wonder if that was a Holdsworth frame ^_^ .
  7. Bill Soens

    Bill Soens Well-Known Member

    Gosh you are going back a bit ! Yes I remember Bill Twiddle and I believe that he built his own frames. At that time just after the war there were many local small builders.

    Sorry about your friend's bike. It is not impossible that I built it. I did a few for Tommy Soens but not many. You will need the serial number under the bottom bracket and then I should be able to confirm. After I closed the business a number of my frames were painted over with other people's names.

    There were a couple or so riders named Ward. I think I remember one who I was going to thump ! It was in the Isle of Man and I had just lost the 2 lap race by puncturing when away on my own; after changing the tyre I was in the sprint for a minor place and some guy named Ward I think took all my spokes out of the front wheel ! Not a happy day.

    The cycling manager/coach you are thinking of was my late father Eddie Soens. Until this current group came along he was the most successful cycling coach the country ever had, being responsible for many World Champions, etc.

    Cheers. Bill Soens.
  8. pubrunner

    pubrunner Guru

    Yes, I believe that there were quite a few Merseyside builders . . . . . . . I'd love a Fothergill frame - if I could find one. There were also some good builders in Manchester - I'd love a Johnny Berry frame too. Basically, I find it hard to resist an old steel frame in my size - I find it rewarding to try and get them back on the road. Trouble is, because so many of these old frames sell for so little money, I've no 'excuse' to stop buying them - rather to the annoyance of my missus ^_^ .

    I'm actually considering, 'saving up' with the possible aim of getting an early titanium frame - Speedwell or Teledyne . . .any knowledge of those ? Or, of course, for the same money, I could probably buy 3 or 4 steel frames ^_^ - decisions, decisions.

    Yes, I read somewhere, that he was especially good at finding talented riders and training them to the highest levels; I believe that many riders remember him for his motivational abilities.

    Now Bill, when's the book coming out ? :thumbsup:
  9. Bill Soens

    Bill Soens Well-Known Member

    To respond to both of the above two inputs. I remember Johnny Berry frames very well. They were particularly well made with beautifully filed down intricate lugs - essentially works of art, good shape and handling. Most of the top riders from the Manchester Wheelers rode them. As a young person at that time - I was only 20 when I took over a shop owned by Aussie Hurlen - I was influenced by Italian frames, purely because of Fausto Coppi etc. They had simple, smooth sweeping lugs and I had little time for fancy work. Efficient shape, performance and handling were all that mattered and after I had moved on from the Nervex fancy lugs I never went back to them; for that matter most builders did the same.

    At that time many frames were hopelessly inefficient, wrong shape for handling on both the road and track; fork rakes that didn't match the head angle for "trail". It was common to have to prise open the front forks to get a wheel in and the older drop-outs wouldn't take Campag hub spindles so had to be filed out and then they were too thin for quick release !!! It took many years for some builders to learn - some never did. Nowadays you can go into any store and buy a bike off the shelf and it will be the right shape for handling and this applies to bikes of all price ranges. That's the way it should be - it's just as easy to build something of the right shape as the wrong shape.

    As for finding a Fothergill - try eBay or www.merseysidebicycles/

    Sorry, no book coming out. Writing the odd article for a magazine or whatever is one thing but to undertake all the research to fill a book is quite another. Few things though:-

    Eddie Soens was born August 27th 1912 (would have been 100 a couple of month's back) in Liverpool. His father my Grandad, had the first (or second) racing bike shop in the city before 1900 - it was always debated whether R.J.Wilson was first. He left school at 13 and went as an apprentice French Polisher. In the mid/late 1930s he broke the British 50 mile tandem paced track record - peculiar event that no longer exists. Married Mima Osborne and I came along a year later. Was called up for WWII and served in India/Burma against the Japanese, achieving the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major. Demobbed 1946 he went straight back to cycling and french polishing !

    Whilst he raced a little again he generated towards coaching his club-mates. How and why he had this in-built ability and knowledge I have no idea since he had only the most rudimentary education but he had the ability to motivate people beyond their own beliefs. His first success was a man named George Booth who quickly became a local top man but this was cut short when he was killed in a car crash - tragically ironic for one who had seen WWII military action.

    Others came along for help - he never approached anyone. They all came to him without exception and the most famous at that time was Norman Sheil, a teenager with a prodigious talent.

    Bear in mind that there was no support from any organisation and a huge number of barriers thrown up from the blazer brigade. It is impossible for people now to grasp the attitudes of some officialese of that time. Sheil had equalled or beaten the British 4,000 metre record at Fallowfield but when he tried to get a ride at Herne Hill was told by the relevant personnel that "we don't take any notice of times from the North "!!! Much arguing got the ride and Sheil went on to win the National Championship beating Peter Brotherton. He then went on to win the Commonwealth Games and then the World Championship individual pursuit in 1955 and again in 1958.

    This was the beginning and the list of riders who came to him is too long for this column. Shortened version would include John Geddes, Beryl Burton, Charly McCoy, Barry Hoban, Harry Middleton,Doug Dailey, Dave Lloyd, Viking team, Gordon Singleton and just before his death in August 1985 Paul McHugh.

    In addition, athletes from other sports came through his front door, most notably Geoff Smith who won the Boston Marathon a couple of times.

    All of the above was undertaken from his own house with no financial reward until the very end of his life when the BCF began to reimburse people for their time.

    He received no official recognition. Had he been doing the same thing now he would doubtless be in the honours' list but his attitude to certain officials was uncompromising, making a small number of adversaries. There was only one opinion and that was his ! Anything else was "wrong". The riders idolised him, a small number of certain influential personnel did not.

    Different world now and so it should be. How wonderful it is to see the current successes. At Eddie Soens' funeral some people suggested some form of memorial - it exists in the Aintree race in March. In my speech I held up Gordon Singleton's rainbow jersey and suggested that the greatest tribute to him would be to fill jersies like this with British riders - he would be delighted now. Bill Soens
  10. bobg

    bobg Über Member

    Crosby Merseyside
    Bill, Thanks for the fascinating insight into Soens bikes. Having noticed your reference to 1 -800 being yours I rushed down to the garage and checked mine " SOE 1318" so am I right in thinking it's a Holdsworth? The decals just say "SOENS" Whoever built it spent a lot of time filing the lugs, they're beautifully graduated into tje 531C tubing and the lining is as fine as I've seen. Strangly short 21 1'2 " top tube with makes it lovely and sensitive to ride for someone with short arms like me! It's been really good to hear about the family,
    Kind regards
  11. Bill Soens

    Bill Soens Well-Known Member

    No, it isn't a Holdsworth. This is a genuine "Soens" built by my late uncle Jim Soens, who opened his bike shop in Lower Breck Rd Liverpool 6 in 1936. Since his was the only Soens business until late 1957 he simply called his bike "Soens" and he hand built all his own frames. The shop was taken over by Peter Matthews in the 1970's I think. It no longer exists as a bike shop but as a local small grocers ! The paint work would have been done by C and G Finishes of Back Faulkner ST South. Liverpool 7 and it would have been a slightly later bike since 531C was later than simple 531. In all likelihood the short top tube is as a result of making the seat angle steeper than average. Cheers. Bill Soens
  12. cisamcgu

    cisamcgu Guru


    Thank you so much for the insight into the Liverpool frame builders. My father had a Forthergill from the 50's which he resurrected and used in the 70's and 80's before moving on to other frames - he still rides although gave up racing in the last few years. I had a Quinn Bros (It wasn't 531 though, maybe something called 530 or 531C ? ) from the 80's, almost certainly a rebadged Holdsworth, but remember it fondly.

    I recollect many happy hours spent in Walvale cycles, Quinns (both Harry and the Brothers) and other shops around the area included Soens, although which of the three I cannot recall, lusting after Campag equipment, but never able to afford it :smile:

    I think the above link should be

    Kindest regards
  13. Scilly Suffolk

    Scilly Suffolk Über Member


    Many thanks for taking the time to contribute here: fascinating reading.

    I don't suppose you could tell me anything of Ian May?

    All I know, is that he died quite young and had a reputation as an "experimental" frame builder.

    Kind regards,

  14. Bill Soens

    Bill Soens Well-Known Member

    Sorry. Regretfully I know nothing of Ian May, but thanks for asking.

    Bill Soens.
    Scilly Suffolk likes this.
  15. Lee Matthews

    Lee Matthews Active Member

    Hi, My dad is Pete Matthews and he is interested in having a chat with you. Log on to, and his phone number is on the website.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice