Text & Photographs by Chris Marais
The MC Ellis Cycle Shop in Bird Street, Beaufort West, is living proof that if you hang around long enough there’s every chance you’ll be back in fashion some day.
The frontispiece of the shop is full of old-time announcements, declaring that the man inside will sell or fix bicycles, locks and guns for cash
Walk in, let your eyes get used to the sudden gloom from the harsh Karoo sunlight outside and you’ll spot Tim Ellis, a large man in a blue shirt.
It’s a shop and a museum all thrown together in a marvelously random manner.
Keyrings, box cameras, the famous Ellis ginger beer, old time fire extinguishers, zimmer frames with broken wheels, rows of primus blow torches, clams and bikes, bikes and more bikes.
There are even bicycles hanging from the ceiling. One of them is hand-made, with wooden wheels, a driveshaft and a cog.
The other is the bike Tim’s mom used to cycle to school on in the mid-1930s.
“I was raised in this shop,” says Tim. “Except for two years spent teaching, I’ve been here all my life.”
Tim Ellis and his shop appear in Karoo Keepsakes I, now available in print and in e-Book format from the Karoo Space Bookstore. Order your copy here.