Duke of Edinburgh to open new Brompton bikes factory

The Duke of Edinburgh will celebrate British engineering and ingenuity later when he opens a new factory producing the famous Brompton folding bicycle.

One of the great manufacturing success stories of recent years, sales of the handmade bicycles favoured by commuters and Hollywood A-listers alike have surged.

Demand is now so high that the firm has found itself needing to expand - despite a shiny new Brompton rolling off the assembly line every 210 seconds.

Having risen from humble beginnings in a west London flat, Brompton Bicycle Ltd now sells 44,000 of its desirable lightweight, collapsible bicycles to customers around the world every year.

Admittedly the award-winning bicycles - with their coveted "made in Britain" labels - come with a hefty price tag. Prices range from around £800 for an entry-level model up to around £2,400 for a steel/titanium version with tyres made of bullet-proof Kevlar.

There are an estimated 90,000 of the bicycles being pedalled around London alone, by owners from the time-poor financier to the image-conscious fashion designer.

Hugh Jackman, Orlando Bloom, Owen Wilson and even petrolhead James May have been photographed astride a Brompton. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, too, has been seen in the saddle.

Since inventor Andrew Ritchie first sketched out designs for a bicycle that folds to just a third of its size while looking out at the Brompton Oratory, South Kensington, in 1975, over 450,000 Brompton Bikes have been produced in the UK.

Philip will meet Mr Ritchie and tour the company's new factory in Greenford, west London, on Monday where he will be shown the bicycles' journey from drawing board to delivery.

He will also meet the range of skilled craftsmen and women who engineer and manufacture the bicycles - one of which was seen being ridden by Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in 2014.