Today I went on a little excursion to Forge Needle Museum in Redditch. This small museum was the perfect way to spend an hour before lunch. It tells the story of needle making during the Victorian period. Housed in a listed building, an audio trail and recreated scenes using models illustrate how needles were once made. You can step back in time surrounded by the Victorian water powered machinery which remains the only water powered scouring mill left in the world.
Beginning it's life as an iron forge, Forge Hill converted to needle scouring in 1730. In 1828 the mill was rebuilt and a stone crushing mill and barrelling shop were added. Again in 1870, more work was completed on the mill with a steam engine being installed to aid the water wheel in times of drought. The last needle was made in 1958 and it closed down, re-opening as a museum on 5th July 1983.
Exploring the ground floor of the museum you can get a glimpse into the gruesome conditions that the workers had to endure throughout their time at Forge Hill. The exhibition takes you on a step by step journey into how the needles were made with lots of informative fact boards placed at various points around the work stations. Much of the original water powered machinery remains and if you are lucky enough to visit on a Tuesday or the weekend, you may get to see it in motion.
Up the narrow stairs, the middle floor of the building houses temporary textile exhibitions. Whilst the top floor is dedicated to an extensive needle collection, including fish hook displays and lovely needle cases and packaging. The museum boasts a large collection of unusual
needles and needle cases produced by local Redditch companies.
This treasure trove of history contains many well documented exhibits with information broken down into manageable chunks. You could visit just to look at some of the beautiful packaging alone which showcases stunning examples of period typography and imagery.
Outside you can see the working water wheel which powers the mill. The museum is nestled in some lovely well maintained grounds and is only a short walk away from Bordesley Abbey. Picnic benches are dotted throughout the grounds with lots of beautiful spots to bring a packed lunch. A lovely museum if you are visiting Redditch and have an hour to spare.