Wednesday, 20 April 2016


Hazel and I have been teaching on a residential weekend in the Lickey Hills near Redditch. Finding ourselves with a few hours to spare we decided to visit the Forge Mill Needle Museum, housed in this wonderful building - an old scouring mill, where needles went through days of polishing. For some reason I had no camera with me so I have Hazel to thank for these photos.

I hadn't realised that there were so many processes involved in needle making. This display shows about half of them.

Or that, like so many industrial processes of the time, it was so dangerous. Pointers could be blinded by slivers of metal or injured if the grindstone shattered, not to mention lung disease contracted from breathing in metal dust. They were the best paid workers in the factory, but their life expectancy was a mere 35 years.

The exhibition showed needles of all types, from tiny suturing needles and hypodermic syringe needles, via sewing needles of all shapes and sizes from betweens to huge mattress and saddler's needles, to fish hooks and ornate hat pins.

These displays are a work of art in themselves . . .

Other sewing related items were equally interesting; an ornate sewing machine . . .

and a bookbinder's jig

revealing the makings of the book - beautiful patterns which deserve to be exposed, which is why we like to make hand-made books with the stitches decorating the spine.

More interesting things - these wooden formers (called mandrels) were used to bend curved needles.

and I couldn't resist asking Hazel to take this final photo ...

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