‘Our model is based on repair, service and sale’: Platt Fields Bike Hub’s Andy Boardman on the community bike workshop

Platt Fields Bike Hub is situated in a public park in the centre of Manchester. Alex Ballinger hears from director Andy Boardman about the unique set-up at the community bike workshop

This piece first appeared in the October edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

Having opened 10 years ago as a space for community art and cycling projects, Platt Fields Bike Hub in Manchester has since developed into a much-loved community asset.

Starting from a volunteer-run, part time basis, director Andy Boardman and his team have now established the bike hub as a full-time operation, being run as a non-profit workers’ co-operative. Boardman told BikeBiz: “During this time the hub has had highs and lows, but was really only open a few days a week.

“Over the last few years we have established the hub on a much firmer foundation – especially through Covid, we were classed as an essential service and allowed to stay open to provide facilities for front line workers and essential staff.”

The hub, located in a former boathouse next to the lake in the central Manchester green space, also benefited from the Government’s £50 maintenance voucher, introduced during the pandemic to get more cyclists on the road, offering an alternative to public transport.

Following the busy Covid period, in December 2020 Boardman and his team opted to establish the bike hub as a worker’s co-op, with five directors and an open membership policy. The team currently has five employed staff.

Boardman said: “We are rooted in the community and only sell and restore second-hand bikes. Regarding the industry we feel it’s an important aspect of the overall plan to continue to restore bikes and reuse parts where possible to reduce waste. Bicycles have become a very valuable commodity and there is a high demand for quality, used bicycles.”

The workshop is now expanding into new areas, offering specialised women’s only bike maintenance classes, along with community rides, a frame spraying service, and working with Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival.

On the future of the industry, Boardman said: “For all involved in the bike industry, sales and customer footfall is very seasonal, but we see the role of training and bike mechanic skills courses as something we can do all year round. We are a not-for-profit workers co-op so any profits are put back into the hub for future development.

“We are quite optimistic about the next 12 months as we are introducing new revenue streams based around training and recycling, and reducing waste.”

Platt Fields Bike Hub is now open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm, running training sessions on Monday and Tuesday night from 4pm to 7pm. Boardman added: “All the bikes at the hub are secondhand and we have an enormous range, mostly donated.

“We can have anything in stock from 1950s Raleighs up to quite modern road, mountain and hybrid bikes. We recently have had a few carbon bikes! Our model is based on repair, service and sale. These are the three main streams of revenue. We have five staff and lots of very valuable volunteers, who we couldn’t survive without.”

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