The man saving old bikes from landfill

James Hawken had no background in bike repair when he began attempting to restore an old bike that was sitting, unused, in his back garden:

“I’m a butcher by trade, but I gave that up to look after my wife, Tina, who is disabled. I knew I needed something else to keep my mind occupied and one day I found myself looking at that rusty bike.”

It was then James had what he describes as his ‘lightbulb moment’:

“I thought, rather than me dumping it into landfill, perhaps somebody else could make use of it instead. So I started working on it, got it going again, and then sold it on for £30.”

James began looking out for old bikes that people were getting rid of, and restoring them back to good condition before selling them again. He lives in Addiscombe, but visits Tandridge regularly to collect them:

“I’ve had such a good response from communities like Godstone and Lingfield: people really understand what I’m doing, and have been so generous.”

James gets lots of requests for his reconditioned bicycles, normally working on about 20 a month:

“People ride bikes for fun, for exercise, and to cut down on car use, so there is always a demand for them. By restoring bikes that were simply going to be dumped, I’m also helping the environment.”

When his new venture really got going, James was even able to take on a couple of apprentices:

“One of them was 13 when he first started with me. He’s now 15, and has learnt to do bikes up so well that he’s begun his own little business. He’s really enjoying it, and we help each other out.”

James has also been able to support some Ukrainian visitors to the area:

“Somebody replied to one of my Facebook posts, saying they were hosting guests who would appreciate having bikes while they’re here. I’ve been able to pass some on to them now, so they are able to get out and about in our beautiful countryside: which is also a real boost to mental health.”

James Hawken and the bikes he restored for three Ukrainian visitors

If you have an old bike that you are happy to donate to James, or one that you would like repaired, email James on


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