John James has a long heritage steeped in the history of the needle making industry. That heritage also stretches through generations of needle industry workers and their families.
Drawing from the experiences and knowledge of our employees, past and present, we will be bringing you a regular insight into life for the needlemaker through the industry's 300 year history...
Redditch became the centre for the needle making industry through the 19th century.
Needles were manufactured in London and in parts of the north and west of England, and
no-one is exactly sure why this particular part of the midlands came to have such a hold
over the industry.
The entrepreneurial spirit of the Redditch industrialists saw machines being developed
and introduced to the benefit of production levels. Water power being used to polish needles
was an important step and gave the Studley and Astwood manufacturers some early
advantage over the competition. The introduction of machines to stamp and press and to drill
the eyes progressed the production process throughout the middle part of the 19th century and
hardening techniques were refined.
Redditch gained the reputation for producing the best quality needles and handworkers were
re-trained in the use of machines. Although there was dissent amongst many workers - even
to the point of machine breaking whereby a number of Redditch pointers were arrested
and imprisoned for such acts in the 1840s.
Part Five Coming Soon...
Read Part One of Memories of a Needlemaker
Read Part Two of Memories of a Needlemaker
Read Part Three of Memories of a Needlemaker