ALMOST one year ago fire raged through Cycle King in Cowley Road, destroying 1,700 bikes.

The fire caused more than £1m worth of damage, but now things are looking more positive and after a lengthy restoration process, the shop is reopening on Saturday.

Cycle King’s new array of bikes have been wheeled back into the store this week, and its six full-time staff are awaiting the 9am launch.

The whole building had to be gutted, rebuilt, and refitted after the blaze on March 31 last year.

Neighbours were evacuated from their homes as about 70 firefighters tackled the fire.

Witnesses reported seeing the doors being blown off and flames rising 15 feet from the roof.

Cycle King operations director Nicholas Thake, 32, said: “It has been a tough year but we are really happy to be back in the original shop.

“I remember getting a phone call from the manager saying the shop was on fire and I couldn’t believe it.

The Oxford Times:

  • The fire last March

“The extent of the damage was a huge shock.

“Everything was completely ruined.

“One half of it was destroyed by the fire and the other half by the smoke – nothing could be saved. One side of the whole building completely collapsed.”

A total of 600 bikes were on display on the shop floor, while about 1,100 were stored on the first and second floors of the three-storey building.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service ruled out arson after an investigation.

Mr Thake, whose father founded Cycle King, added: “At least it was nothing sinister.

“It was probably an electrical fault because it came from the counter area where all the computers and air compressors were placed.

“It has been strange starting the shop up again – I have been having flashbacks of 12 years ago when we set this shop up for the first time.”

Cycle King has been based in Oxford for 35 years, moving from Walton Street in Jericho to Cowley Road 12 years ago.

The shop, at 128 to 130 Cowley Road, has been based temporarily at a smaller shop in 193 Cowley Road since May last year.

Businesses nearby have said they are pleased to hear the shop will be up and running again.

Darren Fellerdale, manager of neighbouring Professional Music Technology, said: “It’s healthy for Oxford to have lots of retail businesses along the road.

“We’re glad they are back.

“We have a good relationship with them, and quite a few of us here bike in to work so if we have any problems, we just go next door.”