Sunday, 18 January 2015

Needle-making in Loughborough

Although last week's post included a little bit about needle-making, I've been meaning to write a longer post about needle-making in Loughborough for a very long time, prompted by a number of things, including spotting a photograph of a building I walk past every time I walk into town in a local history book, a postcard sent to someone in Loughborough with the same surname as the local needle-makers, a visit to the needle-making museum in Redditch, and a visit to Astley Book Farm!

At the Book Farm I discovered a book in the Shire Books series on needle-making, which was fascinating, and in the back was a list of places to visit, which included Redditch.

I had only ever been to Redditch once before, so put a trip there on my wish list, particularly to visit the Forge Mill Needle Museum. Here I discovered that not only was Redditch famous for sewing needles, but also for other, related sharp, pointy bits of metal, like darts, hooks for fishing rods, and medical syringes.

This got me to thinking about Loughborough, because I was sure on my travels through some of my local history books I knew I'd seen reference to needle-makers in Loughborough, and wondered why Redditch became the centre of needle-making in the country. Now, having tried to do a bit of research, I can only assume it was because the needles manufactured in Redditch were the sort used for hand-stitching, whereas those made in Loughborough were for framework knitting machines, initially bearded needles, then superseded by latch needles.

On a trip to Lichfield a long time ago I spotted some postcards that had been sent to someone in Loughborough, but it was only when I got home that I worked out the significance of the addressee, and I so wished I'd bought them. A little while before Christmas 2014, I visited Lichfield again, looking for some solace in the Cathedral and some Christmas presents in the shops. I suddenly remembered about the postcards I'd seen before and on the off-chance popped into the same shop I'd seen them in to look for some other presents. Imagine my surprise to find the postcards still there: This time I bought one - only when I got home I wished I'd bought them all!! The one I bought was a postcard from Leicester from an elementary school teacher to her slightly older elementary school teacher sister who was living in Loughborough. They were associated with one of the main needle-making families in the town.

As for that building, I admit I don't get into town as often as I used to, but when I do I always walk, and my journey takes me along Albert Street. I've often looked at the strange building on the end, but it wasn't until I acquired a copy of  Bygone Loughborough in Photographs, vol.2, that I discovered the building used to be a factory making needles.

Some of the needle-makers I've found listed are:

  • Samuel Armstrong, Mill Street
  • Samuel Chester, Bridge Street
  • John Holland, North Street
  • William Priestley, Woodgate

  • William Battison, Mill Street
  • Luke Cashmore & Sons, Mill Street
  • Charles, Thomas & Josiah Grudgings, Albert Street
  • William Hubbard, Regent Street

  • Luke Cashmore & Sons, Mill Street
  • Charles, Thomas & Josiah Grudgins, Albert Street
  • William Hammond, 64 Leopold Street
  • Hartshorn & Hoult, 39 Pinfoldgate
  • Walter Hubbard, Meadow Lane

  • Daniel Grudgings & Bros, Albert Street
  • J T & C Grudgings, School Street
  • William Hammond & Son, The Rushes *
  • William Hubbard, Meadow Lane

  • Daniel Grudgings & Bros, Albert Street
  • J T & C Grudgings, School Street
  • William Hubbard, Meadow lane

  • Daniel Grudgings & Bros, 1 Albert Street
  • J T & C Grudgings, 8 School Street

* I believe Hammonds might have been on Havelock Street at one time too.

Pop back next week or the week after to read a bit more about one of the needle-making families in Loughborough.


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