As demand grew, alloy bottles became the must-have accompaniment for recreational and professional cyclists alike. They took pride of place on the bike, front-mounted on handlebars and the Coloral Company from Birmingham became synonymous with the Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali era of classic bike racing.
As the company entered the mid 50s, like many manufacturing companies in the UK of that time, Coloral began to come under increasing pressure from cheaper imports and the increased competition from plastic based alternatives.
These difficult conditions led to the closure of the company in 1954, however, despite their relatively short lifespan, their place in cycling history was secure.
As cycling and design enthusiasts, we were intrigued by the history of the Coloral Company of Birmingham.
And in the summer of 2012 we embarked on a research project to try and uncover more details about this cycling icon from the past.
This process took us from posting on cycling forums to investigating trademark documents, from corresponding with sport organisations and heritage societies to a visit to the company registration archive in the British Library, but after an investigation that spread over many months we were unable to unearth any new detailed information on the Coloral Company.
Our final hope was to go back to the street that was famously stamped
on the foot of the bottles – Steward Street, Birmingham.
Today, on that very same street, stands one metalwork factory.
Owned by father and son David and Chris Beeching, the family run business was founded in the 1930s by David’s Grandfather. They head a small team of spinners and press workers making specialist, bespoke pieces for aviation.
One of only a handful of steel spinning factories left in the UK.
And surprisingly despite their location and their distinguished metalwork heritage, they had no awareness of the Coloral Company or their products.
Shortly after making contact with David and Chris we visited the factory and they kindly showed us around and explained the process of how the Coloral bottle could have been made back in the 1940s.
And it’s during that trip that a plan was formed, with David and Chris, to try and bring back the Coloral Company – to recreate the original bottle to exact specifications, use the same craft process that was used back in the 1940s and do it from the very street where the original was manufactured all those years ago – Steward Street, Birmingham, England.
In consultation with David and Chris, and utilizing their expertise, we have re-drawn and re-crafted the bottle in CAD, designing an exact match to the original produced in 1947.
The development and accessibility of 3D printing has enabled us to take these bottle designs through an iterative and extensive prototyping process.
The next stage is to begin the manufacture.
Firstly we plan to invest in bespoke tooling to recreate the original bottle and the vertical flutes. Each bottle will then be hand tooled on a metal spinning lathe, a traditional craft where a skilled team shape and form the steel.
We’ll make a slight adjustment to the original dimensions to ensure our Coloral bottle fits in standard, modern bottle cages.
To meet the health and safety requirements of today we will upgrade the aluminium of yesteryear to the highest quality 304-type stainless steel; to keep water clean, safe and pure.
304 grade stainless steel is the safest, most durable and toxin-free material available. It is a food grade product, easy to clean, non-leaching, odour and taste free, recyclable and robust for continued use.
Our bottle tops are made from FSC certified cork stoppers and are 100% natural, renewable and recyclable. Sourced directly from Portugal, they are identical to the originals with ridged metal caps and printed Coloral logos.
And as a final finish the base of the bottle will be imprinted with the original “Coloral, Steward Street, Birmingham” manufacturers stamp.
To fund this adventure and the next part of the Coloral story we will need your help.
Using Kickstarter we hope to raise the finances to fund the initial tooling and the production of the first 2000 bottles. If we can achieve that kick-start we are confident we can generate the momentum required to bring back the Coloral Company as a UK specialist-manufacturing brand for the long term.
We really appreciate all contributions to the project and it would be a great feeling to see Coloral back on the bike in
2013, the centenary year of the Tour De France.
If you have any questions on the project or would like further information please feel free to email us directly at
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