This is a Barb Roadster. It carries a distinctive brass head badge used by Finlay Brothers, and has the original “Barb” lettering still visible along its down tube.
This bicycle was originally painted red, though most of this paint has peeled away. It came to its present owner as a frame only.
Some clues on the frame have helped to date this bicycle to probably being a model from the 1940’s. The owner has located a “British Tube Mills” decal on the frame, and this helps in pinpointing its manufacture, as British Tube Mills opened in Australia in 1938.1 The seat tube of this bicycle also bears a sticker of the firm’s Elizabeth Street premises, which was only opened in 1941, therefore suggesting the bicycle’s sale being after this date.
Interestingly, the owner has commented that the bicycle can be identified as a Roadster from the fact that it has bolt-on seat stays. Post-war, brazed on seat stays were only used on more expensive models by local manufacturers.
In building this bicycle up to its present state, the owner has used mostly period components sourced from a variety of different places - swap meets, online auctions, his own archive of parts, and pieces found via the "grapevine" on online forums. He has commented, though, that he has used new brake levers which allow him to hide some of the cables under the handlebar tape.
In the mid 1940’s, Finlay Brothers were selling new Barb Roadsters for £11/12/6.2 In earlier brochures, they were noted to be available in black, blue or red, with bright parts nickel-plated and came with a ten year guarantee.3
With many thanks to the owner of this bicycle for help in preparing the description and providing the great photographs.
1. Ailie Smith, “British Tube Mills (Aust) Pty Ltd (1938- )”, Encyclopedia of Australian Science, http://www.eoas.info/biogs/A001589b.htm
2. Source: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), March 24, 1945, 31s. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1110231
3. Finlay Brothers, For Outstanding Value... Barb Cycles, catalogue from the 1930's - this copy issued in 1935 (Melbourne: McCarron, Bird & Co).