The Museum Archives

Forge Mill Needle Museum holds extensive archives related to the needle and fishing tackle industries of Redditch and the surrounding areas.

Some of the archives have come from the needle and fishing tackle factories themselves thanks to a few enlightened individuals who had the foresight to document the activities of their own factories and companies. These archives – whilst collected on an ad hoc basis – offer a unique and fascinating insight into how the companies coped with both local and foreign competition. It is also clear that they understood the importance of innovation, improvement, diversification and advertising if they were to survive.

Within the archives are publications about the needle and fishing tackle trades, which form an important contemporaneous source of information. Some are by external visitors who came to try and understand why Redditch was so successful in dominating the needle industry. Most of these articles/publications are now out of print, so we have included these in the lists.

Of particular note to collectors of sewing tools and accessories might be the company catalogues. These have lovely clear illustrations showing the range of sewing accessories that the companies sold alongside their needles – everything from scissors and thimbles to crochet hooks and hatpins.

The museum also has an extensive collection of fishing tackle catalogues – some photocopies and some originals – which are very useful for helping to date rods, reels and baits.

The museum holds a lot of information about the origins of the families who became associated with and intrinsically linked to the needle/fishing tackle trades. We have a good collection of family trees derived from collected information and census work.

To make the information more manageable, we have categorised the archives into thematic areas. The lists are by no means exhaustive and if you wish to access the archives or obtain copies of documents, then please email the museum. (Please note that there may be a small charge for photocopying).

Jo-Ann Gloger
Keeper of Collections

Scan from catalogue of Abel Morrall Ltd, Clive Works, Redditch

Scan from catalogue of Edgar Sealey and Sons Ltd, Brockhill Works, Redditch

Scan from catalogue of Kirby Beard and Co

Scan from catalogue of William Bartleet and Sons Ltd, Redditch

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Guided Tours of Forge Mill