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David Rattray & Co. Ltd.
Another string to Rattray's bow...


Although this site is almost exclusively "Flying Scot" orientated, David Rattray & Co. saw that they couldn't just concentrate on the lightweight and high value bicycles but also on the bread and butter and sold many more ordinary sports & family bicycles at rather more ordinary prices! These include the products of Dawes, Sunbeam and the biggest of them all, Raleigh.

Rattray's also sought to capture some of the everyday sales with their own brand of budget machines - Rattray's 'STAR' Cycles. These were basic machines dressed up not unlike their Flying Scot range, but using less expensive frames and components.

In 1941, John Hamilton, owner of J&A Baxter in Govan and framebuilder of the Baxter 'Star' lightweights was invited to go and work at Rattray's by Jack Smith and to be in charge of their workshop. In 1946, John was allowed to build a few more of his 'Star'' specials using his own transfers he'd brought from the Govan shop. In 1951 however around the same time and before John emigrated to New Zealand, David Rattray & Jack Smith decided that they would use the 'Star' name for a small range of cheaper machines. It was a decision that according to his daughter, didn't rest easy with John - his once acclaimed name for lightweights and part of his head badge - the 'Star' being applied to what were lower spec. models.

Exactly when this range appeared has yet to be discovered, The 'Star' logo wasn't used until after the arrival of John Hamilton in 1941 and certainly Rattray's were advertising the Flying Scot and Star Cycles ranges in club magazines as early as 1946, It was also advertised on the side of their brand new Commer CA van (introduced in 1952).

The "Star" cycles, were not branded "Flying Scot" or "Scot" as such, but used a derivative of the J.& A. Baxter 'Star" logo - replacing the Baxter 'B' with the Rattray's "R" in the centre of the badge, and incorporating this into a badge transfer for the head and down tubes. See this article on John Hamilton & J.A. Baxter).

The conventional bicycles like the ladies frame and the gents upright appear to have had no other branding beyond the "Star" transfers, however the racing bikes appear to have been branded as l'Ecosse models. see this gallery for details of these models.

l'Ecosse Photograph Courtesy of Norman Maver (for further details click here)

Rattray's eventually dropped the range - no doubt pressured by the sales of their largest brand "Raleigh" however I did hear that in later years - perhaps in the late 1950s early 1960s, they did resurrect it for few 'Star' Christmas racing bikes and certainly one frame likely to have been one of those has surfaced fairly recently - see here.

The small version of the Rattray's "Star" logo - the 'R' in the star for want of a better description appeared not only on the Star Cycles, but occasionally crops up on Flying Scot's as well. It was also used on Flying Scot's at various times after the move to Alexandra Parade on the seat tube, or in some cases on the head tube as part of the David Rattray & Co. shop transfer:

The l'Ecosse model name was also resurrected and used again but this time for the Flying Scot's. It has been said that it was thought that the transfer was applied to later track frames and certainly there are examples of it having been used however in most cases it seems to have been by customer choice and can be found equally on road frames.

For pictures of the other "Star" Cycles models (Courtesy of the Flying Scot Flickr group) see;

Rattray's Roadster.
Traditional Roadster Frame.

Ladies Vintage Flying Scot. Ladies Frame

If you can add any more to the story of these machines, then do please get in touch!

Note; Contrary to the general wisdom (and it's understandable given Rattray's choice of name) John Hanilton's concern 'J & A Baxter' was not taken over by Rattray's, it simply closed down as a result of family concerns during the 1941 blitz and John moving to work for David Rattray & Jack Smith in their workshop.

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'The Flying Scot' website Copyright © 2011 Bob Reid - Last Updated 15 August, 2011 19:51hrs
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