Tag Archives: brixton cycles

#BrixtonBonus – Meet the Winners: Ashleigh and Paul

Stop us if you’ve seen this picture before… isn’t this the September Bonus winner, Paul? Guess what – Ashleigh, who won two Brixton Bonus runner-up prizes before, and who happens to be Paul’s wife, took home the jackpot B£1,000 in February! Congratulations ?

If you think the pair’s luck is a little too good to believe, here’s their secret: they are both “Brixton Bosses” – they each have an indefinite recurring entry for the maximum 10 tickets a month for each Brixton Bonus draw. Which, as evidenced by the results, definitely helps your chances to win! And if you sign up for a recurring entry with any number of tickets, you will receive very special rewards as a thank you from us.

All proceeds from Brixton Bonus go to the Brixton Fund, from which we give grants to local organisations of community benefit – see who we’ve funded so far. You are also supporting the Fund every time you spend electronic B£s (pay-by-text) or buy B£ merchandise at the B£ Shop or online.


Ashleigh said she was delighted to win, and that the first thing she was going to do with her prize was make a donation to Brixton Soup Kitchen and the Brixton Fund. Amazing generosity, thank you!

The Gills have been regular and loyal B£ users for years. Paul was the first person we introduced in our Meet the User blog series: have a look at a guest blog post he wrote for us in September 2014, where he talks about why he uses B£ and all the personal connections to Brixton traders he’s made through using the local currency.

At the time when Ashleigh and Paul set up their 10 ticket/month recurring entries for Brixton Bonus, the top reward for being a Brixton Boss was a B£ t-shirt and lunch on us, but because of scheduling issues we opted for a breakfast instead, and one chilly October morning we met Ashleigh and Paul at Rosie’s in Market Row. They have been living in Brixton together for over a decade – and Paul, who grew up in South East London, for over two decades now. He told us when he moved here it was because he wanted to live somewhere with a tube station, which he finds amusing now as he cycles to work every day. 

As a regular B£ user, Paul first heard of the Brixton Bonus through our online communication channels: “The idea of the lottery and the message behind it was really inspiring, so we wanted to be a part of it. And it’s so easy to have the 10 tickets bought automatically each month, all I need to do is keep my balance topped up. We appreciate not everyone can afford that £10 each month, so we have donated winnings locally as we have always done via B£, just considerably more than our usual monthly donations.”

“Using B£ is definitely a Brixton badge of pride. Whenever I see the sticker in the window I am confident they will treat me as a regular, that even if there’s a new staff member who may not be familiar with it, the owner will be comfortable taking a pay-by-text payment. And so many businesses still offer 10% off when you pay in B£s. For small businesses working on small margins it’s difficult to do discounts like that, but even if it’s a seasonal or temporary or lunchtime-only promo, it’s hard not to be incentivised. For that reason we’ve always supported Rosie’s, or used to go to the Breadroom (which is now sadly closed) every weekend with our kids.”

“B£1,000 is a lot of money! I was at Market Row Wines and the owner Dave looked at my phone, saw my B£ balance with the prize money included, and was like, “hey, I should get a ticket too!” Knowing someone who won makes it seem more real I guess! I still have my regular standing order for B£s every month. I’ve given some of the prize money to Brixton Foodbank and Brixton Soup Kitchen. We bought some wine at Market Row Wines, we’re going to go out to dinner this week. Other than that the prize means our Christmas is sorted – we’ll buy all our gifts in B£ businesses. I will also definitely spend more at Brixton Cycles now that they take pay-by-text. It’s great that they managed to find a new premises and stay in Brixton, it would’ve been such a loss for the locals to see it go, and especially because cycling is such a big thing now, it’s a no brainer to use your local co-operative bike shop!”

“B£ could expand to a mile radius – there are so many small businesses that aren’t located in the very centre of Brixton. Last Sunday we went on a walk and popped into this coffee shop near Loughborough Junction, Blue Turtle Oasis. We didn’t realise they took B£, but they do, and that was a very pleasant surprise.”

“Our kids love B£ too. They’ve got all the B£ notes which they received as gifts – they are real pieces of art, too beautiful to spend. They see us spending pay-by-text all the time though, and understand that it helps independent businesses, understand the reasons behind the currency. Maybe this is something you could encourage more, to have parents give their children B£s as pocket money, to promote local spending? You could even branch out into schools! Corpus Christi Primary School is listed on your Directory, I wonder how they use B£s. The Parent Teacher Associations could benefit from it, ask for donations, or use it to source stuff locally. I love the idea of local business intersecting with schools, offering work experience. Our primary school PTA produces a school calendar every year with pictures done by children and parents. This year the theme is food, and many pages are sponsored by local food businesses. All the money raised is going back to the PTA to be used for school trips, inviting people for talks… This could definitely work together with B£ somehow.

So many people move to Brixton, and they could benefit from knowing more about the local area, local businesses. And it would be important for them too to support the community assets which have been here for years. It’s so sad to see places like A&C Continental go, although great that the B£ Shop can keep using that space for now. But it’s a shame when business owners who worked so hard on these places are forced to move, like Kaff Bar – they put so much effort into that space. The B£ should be making local businesses more visible – to discover some of them you have to be “in the know”, not every place has a sign. The Brixton Fund could give advice or surgeries, even TEDx format talks, on how to set up a business. You can get small business advice when you open a business account with a bank, but not much independent advice is offered. And this could help with jobs for young people too – right now unless you know someone, you can’t get work experience, and you’re a lot more likely to know a small business owner – they might be your neighbour, or another member of the local community.”

Meet the Trader: Brixton Cycles

Brixton Cycles are one of Brixton’s longest running and most loved businesses, and a recent, much-appreciated addition to B£ pay-by-text businesses! We used to only be able to pay with paper notes there, but now the entire B£ team is bound to spend their salaries there… It started as a workers’ co-operative in 1983 on Coldharbour Lane, moved to a space in Stockwell in 2001, and just this week opened up their latest premises at 296-298 Brixton Road, by Loughborough Road. They also teamed up with Look Mum No Hands!  to run a cafe, so even if you don’t have a bike to fix, pop in for a coffee!

During their immensely successful crowdfunding campaign which made staying in Brixton possible, B£ had a chat with Lincoln, the longest serving member of Brixton Cycles, to find out a bit more about him and the business and what’s going on there at the moment.

Brixton Cycles

Brixton Cycles previous home on Stockwell Road

The new BC premises on Brixton Road

The new BC premises on Brixton Road

“26 years ago, by complete chance, I walked past one of the original Brixton Cycles members. I had met him before at the London to Brighton bike ride doing a repair spot. Unbeknown to me, they were looking for someone for the repair shop at Brixton Cycles. So it was only afterwards I found out that they had been talking about me being someone they should approach.”

“At the time I was a courier and I was getting a little bit burnt out. Back then, in the 80s, being a courier was really tough and stressful. I was getting a bit racked off with it and this seemed like a bit of an easier job, and also it was indoors. There’s nothing like being outdoors when it’s cold and raining. You can do one, but when it’s both, it’s just miserable. You couldn’t get any of that highly technical clothing you can now. It was all about having plastic bags inside of my shoes and so-called “waterproof” covers and jackets that didn’t actually work.”



“So here I am today, 26 years on, and it’s very different. In the sense that the people are different, the bikes are different, the cycling attitudes are different. It’s good seeing a complete change in that respect. But I also see people who I used to serve as kids – now coming to the shop all grown up, with their own kids, to get bikes!”

“Brixton itself has changed a lot as well. Back then Brixton always had this reputation of being a very dodgy area. People in the area thought: what are you talking about, it’s fine! But I guess from the outside it was a completely different view – which has now completely changed. It’s now very much “the place to be”, and it makes it harder for old businesses who have been here through all the hard times to survive, because the rents are so high. It’s scary. I keep hearing about old businesses that are getting a rent review coming up – and the biggest thing they fear is a rent review.”

“So we have to move, and the rent reality for us is that we are going to have to pay three times what we are paying now. And everything is taking so long! We are ready to take the next step in our story, but we just keep on getting held back by bureaucracy, that moving business, building, lawyer, paperwork, bureaucracy. It’s taking too long and it’s sucking the energy out of you – because we really want to put all of our drive and energy into a new space but every day is like another set back.” [Fortunately Brixton Cycles have finally re-opened in their new location as of beginning of March! – B£] 

Brixton Cycles team

The Brixton Cycles team

“I’m not against change or things getting revamped, but not to the extent where you get rid of things that made the area what it is. Bringing in people that just don’t get it. They come to an area that has a certain vibe, but what they don’t realize is that vibe is getting taken away and you are just left with nothing, which then becomes the norm. You need to integrate with what was there before, bring something to the table, rather than thinking, I’m too cool and I don’t have to be involved.”

“Eating in Brixton I’m a bit overwhelmed actually, because you just don’t know where to go – there is obviously quite a lot. I go into Brixton market and I feel like a stranger – and that’s odd, considering I lived here for most of my life, that it’s the same market I grew up in. I check it on the Friday or Saturday and I’m like, wow! I don’t even know 80% of the people here because of how popular it has got, and how the dynamics have changed. All these food places that are available now are quite interesting, but I do feel that I am just walking around looking at things and places I have never seen before.”

“I still cycle as much as I can as it’s a nice outlet. I go out on Sundays with the Brixton Cycles Club. What we try to instill there is to be courteous to other road users. You don’t want to be that club that is a bunch of dicks riding around with really inconsiderate cycling, particularly if it brings the whole of Brixton into disrepute. You will be cycling in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and the south coast, and you’ll have Brixton on your chest. The first thing you hear is “you cycled all the way from Brixton!” Some people will have a perception of where they think cyclists should cycle up to, they can’t comprehend you would cycle 50 miles. It’s actually an easy thing – not that I’m bragging.”

Brixton Cycles cycling club out and about

Brixton Cycles cycling club out and about

“I used to do a lot of music, I started off with vinyl, then I moved onto CDs, and recently I started using a controller and Serato. The very first record I bought was in Brixton around 1978, I was 11 or 12. There used to be a small record shop in the Reliance Arcade. Music is an important part of my life, but it’s not something I have to do all the time. Now I have two girls, and they can be quite testing, so it’s not about me all the time. It used be a lot more about cycling and records – now it’s a lot less music, but still the cycling.”

Brixton Cycles are open from Monday – Saturday every week in their new location on 296-298 Brixton Road, SW9 6AGGet down to check out their new place, have a cuppa, and for any maintenance or cycling equipment that you need!

This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.