Found a couple of bargains on eBay. Here is a lovely Peugeot Lautaret frame (£13.10):
After studying it carefully, I'm pretty sure it's from 1987, as this is the date stamped on the Sachs Huret down tube shifters, and according to brochures online, the rainbow paint scheme is from that era. It's marked 12 vitesses, and the tubing is Peugeot own brand HLE, neatly internally brazed (no lugs). Paint is in great condition. The BB seems to be English 68mm, the seat tube is weird size, probably a 24mm diameter, and the stem is a 22.0 French jobbie. Rear dropout spacing was 120mm, but it was pretty clear that someone had cold set it unevenly. By sighting down the seatstays, one could see that the right hand stay had been pushed in. I gently pulled it back to its original 126mm spacing. Now to figure out how to build it up - single speed or 6 speed? I'm certainly going for a single chainwheel up front. Options, options...
Second bargain is a Concept Excelsior 15 speed hybridy mtb type thing (£15):
Judging by the condition of the chainset, sprocket teeth, tyres, rims and brake pads, it's HARDLY EVER been ridden! A label on it says "Designed in England by Concept Cycling Ltd" and another "Mega Carbon Steel". The frame feels bomb proof. I know nothing of Concept Cycling Ltd, but a quick Google search tells me that it went bust in around 2005 and is now part of the Avocet Group, with Viking and other brands. The chain was rusted and wrapped round the 5 speed block. But it was simple to unwind it, lube it and in 10 minutes, it was back in rideable shape. It rides fairly well actually. Front twist grip changer is knackered completely. I adjusted the L set screw on the front mech to put the chain in the middle ring (38T) for now. Rear twist grip shifter is ropey, but seems to work in a fashion. There's a straight chainline with the middle ring at the front and the second smallest sprocket at the back (17T), which is ~58". I'm wondering whether to lose the rear mech completely, fit mudguards and make this a single speed commuting hack using existing cogs and rings (it has sloping dropouts). But I'll need a longer seatpost first. At least it's a standard ish size: 25.4mm.
Will post more photos as I sort these out. But first, allow me to revel in getting a frame and a functioning bike for a grand total of ~£28. I feel smug! Marvellous. Thanks eBay!