I bought this on eBay, I think I got it for a good price (£65) it was one of those listings that I came across by accident and it seemed to have been overlooked by others judging by the low page views. I bought it first on the basis of the photo and then looked for more information. I found this on cyclechat from Feb 2010 in response to an enquiry:
"Sadly no, John took is own life three or four years ago and the shop has gone. I have a couple of his bikes in my collection. John ran his shop alone so I'm not aware of anyone you could contact. Both my bikes are 70's custom builds for people in the local area who have passed them on to on to me for my Leicestershire built bikes collection. Both are 531 Reynolds frames and forks. However, I'm not sure how much frame building John did, they could have been made locally by Barry Bond who retired from the cycling business years ago but I still see occasionally. An elderly chap we know just called in for a cup of tea and I found out the following. John didn't make any frames but bought most of his from Melor Clarke - a long since gone cycle wholesaler in Leicester. They had all their frames made by various factories in Birmingham. My two bikes, being one off specials, had hand made frames by Barry Bond."
It is partly chromed, which I don't like (a hydrogen embrittlement risk I read) and there is some rust on both frame and forks since chrome plating is porous. I have also found as the result of using electrolysis to remove rust from old steel items that you must not use this method to remove chrome plating as it produces hexavalent chrome in the electrolyte. To remove the chrome plating use sulphuric acid, or hydrochloric acid.
The frame and forks are a close fit for 700C (obviously being a competition bike but looking at my pile of bits I find that the MTB wheels from my rusty bike (now down the tip) will fit nicely, coupled with some BMX brakes and I have an alternative hybrid!*
I have discovered that a wire wheel on a 1200W angle grinder removes paint, rust and leaves behind frame tubes. I have finished the front forks with Smoothrite. More later 31/11/2012
uploaded a photo or two 15/07/2012 See here.
30/06/2016 *Fear not, I have abandoned the 26" MTB wheels idea for this bike, I tried them out on the Orbit which I finished first and didn't like them. They are now on an unbranded Reynolds 525 frame and forks, the Orbit will have 700C and so will this John Fern, I have decided to brush paint the frame black and then flat it with Scotchbrite, I got the idea from Build or Bust. I hope more progress n 2016.
30/12/2016 Domestic tasks distracted me this year, I started but didn't finish. Watch out for progress in 2017!