Heritage and Innovation
History and Heritage
The first tool for sewing was probably no more than a flint or bone awl, or just a thorn to make clothes from animal skins, for the protection of man's body. Eventually, at around 100BC came the iron needle…
We are extremely proud of our heritage and we are committed to offering you a quality product. Many members of staff have been employed by the company all of their lives and indeed generations of their family before them.
Our heritage dates back circa 300 years. The first evidence of needle making in its more conventional form was to be found in various monasteries and ecclesiastical centres throughout the county. Bordesley Abbey (pictured left), founded in 1156, about a mile north of Redditch, was probably the earliest foothold of our industry in the Redditch area.
When the monasteries were dissolved in 1538 by King Henry VIII it is presumed that most of the monks continued to ply their craft in the Redditch neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, needle making was also becoming established in London. Old maps show Needlers Lane and Threadneedle Street and workshops were set up on London Bridge.
In 1656 a charter of incorporation was granted to the trade by Oliver Cromwell and confirmed eight years later by
After the Great Fire of London in 1666 many of the craftsmen dispersed and a number of them settled in Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire, where they became renowned for making sail needles, pack needles, upholstery needles and surgeon’s needles. Gradually they migrated to Redditch making needle manufacture its staple industry.
In 1930 two of the great needlemaker giants, Milward and Hall, joined forces under a single holding company, Amalgamated Needles and Fish Hooks Limited, who formed in 1932 a separate manufacturing organisation THE ENGLISH NEEDLE AND FISHING TACKLE COMPANY - ENTACO
The History of John James Needles
John James was formed in 1840 and registered in 1902. The name John James is synonymous with the very best of needle manufacture, quality and reliability. The John James brand of “Finest Quality Needles” continues to be recognised by needle crafters around the globe. With the merger of Henry Milward and sons in 1912 a new board for John James and Sons was announced. Members of the board consisted of C.B James as chairman and C.F Milward as deputy chairman, H.T Milward, A.D Barfleet and C.E James.
The original John James factory appeared listed as a business for the first time in an 1860 directory of the Redditch area. This is further corroborated by none other than the novelist, Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) who, in his journal
“Household Words” documented a visit to the factory:
“We have been to Redditch, that remarkable little....town, to see needles made....because our English needles of today are spreading all over the known world, wherever exchange of commodities is going on. We are allowed to go over the Victoria Works, the manufactory of Mr John James. That so many (needles) should go forth into the world from one house is wonderful enough....but the making ready for sale exhibits a miracle of dexterity”
Charles Dickens (pictured left)
The John James legacy continues and lives on in the ever expanding and popular range of John James Finest Quality Needles.
To learn more about the history of needle making, please click the following link: