Visit to Redditch, June 2023

Tuesday 22 August 2023


Redditch remains the UK’s centre for needlemaking and the Company visited on Tuesday 27 June.

We first visited the Needle Museum for lunch: the main purpose is to start a new conversation between Freeman Jo-Ann Gloger, Curator of the Museum, Liveryman Susan Kay-Williams (CEO Royal School of Needlework) and Sue Cole, General Manager of Entaco. We discussed many opportunities to work together going forward, prompted by Past Master Pamela Goldberg (Chair, Charity Committee) and Past Master Martyn Chase (Chair, Industry Committee).

We toured the Museum to review the displays and in particular where Needlemakers financial support may be beneficial. The story of needlemaking (featured in our film ‘Art and Mystery of Needlemaking’) is most interesting but the ‘needlemakers’ themselves, especially the lady manakins are showing their age (!). We are investigating the cost of renewing. The display of needles upstairs would benefit from new signage and explanatory panels. Liveryman Angie Lewis (Hon Archivist) is discussing the digitising of the wealth of historic records of needlemaking held by the Museum.

Entaco (the English Needle and Fishing Tackle Company) was formed in 1932 as a combination of needlemakers who can trace their history back 300 years. They are one of the last needle manufacturers in the UK and Sue Cole hosted us for a tour of her factory, which is located not far from the Museum. Dave Gibbs, Production Manager and Bernie Brown, Sales Manager have a combined service of nearly 47 years – Dave allowed us very near his precious machines as you can see from the photos: the process seems to have hardly changed from the Museum displays. Bernie, as well as bravely hosting the Senior Wardens pooch in her office, showed us the packaging and marketing of our familiar needle brands – John James and Milwards – and numerous medical devices which are key to the future of the business.

We look forward to welcoming Sue and colleagues to a Needlemakers event next year and we are investigating whether we may support a needlemaker apprentice at Entaco in future.

Past Master Martyn Chase