The first visit was in March 1988 when she launched the Brigg Regeneration Project and called in at Falcon Cycles to mark the completion of a £1 million expansion project before going on to open the New Enterprise Centre at Grimsby.
She visited again in 1991, having opened Glanford’s Tourist Information Centre at the Buttercross, the Princess endeared herself to the hearts of the people of Brigg and the surrounding area by walking around the Market Place for a chat with many of the hundreds of people who had turned out to greet her.
The Princess’s high-profile visit to the Falcon Cycles in 1988 was labelled the most memorable and proud day in the company’s long history.
Managing director Norman Court – obviously a proud and happy man – made the statement as the Princess unveiled a plaque at the factory towards the end of her visit.
He also gave her assurances to take back to her husband (Prince Charles) on the safety of the paint sprays she had seen and briefly used herself in the Falcon paint area. Mr Court, who guided the Princess throughout the biggest part of her tour, outlined the history of the company to an audience of VIPs and guests.
It was a company which had seen many changes since its establishment back in 1880. He said it was only a few years since Falcon had been going through difficult times – but they had passed. And for that he paid particular tribute to Bill Cross, chairman of Falcon’s parent company, Elswick, and its chief executive, David Cross. “The company has been built up through their faith in the workforce,” he added.
The Princess’s down-to-earth qualities made her a real winner with the staff at Falcon Cycles. Workers who watched the Princess as she slowly progressed around the factory were impressed not only by her beauty but by her natural charm. They lined the route as she made a Royal progression through the processes of cycle manufacturing.
Stephen Molloy, of the warehouse at Brigg, and Glenn Boden, from Scunthorpe, were two of the lucky men who had the opportunity to speak to one of the world’s most glamorous women. Stephen was amazed the Princess was “just like anyone else”.
He revealed: “She was really down-to-earth. She was telling us about the days when she used to ride around London on her own bike.”
Having watched her on TV, Glenn added: “She is far better when you see her for real.”
And a very special souvenir was handed over to the Princess by clerk Diana Parker.
Her hobby was lace-making and she made a plaque with a cycle, made of lace. The Princess remarked the craftswoman who made it must have fantastic eyesight.
The Princess returned home with special presents for the country’s most famous youngsters, Princes Harry and William. For workers at the Brigg factory built a very special pair of cycles specially for the youngest members of the royal family. The Scunthorpe Telegraph suggested, in a special Royal souvenir supplement: “Princes William and Harry are sure to get hours of fun out of their new bikes.”
They were a variation on one of Falcon’s largest ranges, its mountain cycle.
Features included gold anodised handlebars, stem and seat pillar, gold chain, black pedals and rims, and a suede saddle. Extra toughness was provided by Reynolds 501 extra-strength tubing, and the bikes were finished with gold transfers.