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A Brief History of Needle Making in the U.K

Needle making in England began in the 16th century in various areas of London and grew quickly due to a rise in demand for heavily adorned garments.


Soon, the needle making industry moved out of London and to the small town of Redditch near Birmingham. Redditch quickly became world famous for its high-quality manufacturing of hand sewing needles. 

At its peak, Redditch produced 90% of the world’s hand sewing needles. There were more than 100 hand sewing needle companies employing 15,000 people by 19th century. The most well-known companies were: Henry Milward & Sons which began in 1730 and lasted four generations, and Abel Morralls started in 1785. By World War II Redditch was producing over 45 million needles a week!


Sadly, no hand-sewing needle making companies now remain in the U.K. The decline began in the 1980s when world markets were flooded by low cost products made in the Far East. 

If you wish to learn more then the Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch is well worth a visit!


A Brief History of Pin Making

Since their ancient beginnings, prehistoric people used thorns as pins. In ancient Egypt, pins were crafted from bronze. The clothes of medieval Europeans were adorned with pins made from bone, ivory, silver, and gold.

Sewing pin manufacturing started in England in the 1700s. It is estimated that there were more than one hundred small domestic pin suppliers in England around 1760, mostly around the city of Gloucester.


In those times the pins were made by hand. There were workers who specialized on the wire redrawing, straightening, cutting, attaching the head, sharpening the point, polishing and inserting in paper.

In the early to mid 1800’s, American inventors Seth Hunt, John Ireland Howe, and British inventors Lemuel Wright and Daniel Foote Taylor patented machines that produced sewing pins with a solid head from a single piece of wire. These events resulted in an end to the pin industry in England.


By 1939 there were only approximately twelve manufacturers in the United Kingdom and now all are gone.


All the pins stocked in the our shop are either manufactured in France by Bohin or in Spain by Folch. Both companies are well known for the quality of their pins. 

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