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Milward's Famous Needles (1923)


Main image of Milward's Famous Needles (1923)
35 mm, 8 min, black and white, silent
SponsorHenry Milward & Sons

Work at the factory of Henry Milward & Sons, Washford Mills, Redditch; the production of sewing needles and fishing tackle.

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This promotional/industrial film shows processes involved in the manufacture of sewing needles and fishing tackle at the factory of Henry Milward & Sons, Washford Mills, Redditch. In fact, it consists of what were most likely two separate films made back to back at the same works, showing the two sets of products being made. We know nothing about the production company which made the film, and it is not clear if it was sponsored by the Milward's to promote its goods in the guise of an 'interest' film or whether it was part of a series of interest films made by a company which selected Milward's as an interesting site to film. From the number of such films that were produced in the 1910s and '20s it is clear that there was a demand for these in either local or national markets. Before the war, such films were distributed internationally.

The film is very straightforward in its description of processes, and its value to us now is in this simplicity and in what it shows us about the social history of the time. There is a division of labour between men and women, but some individual women have specific jobs operating machinery or doing work requiring manual dexterity, such as tying of artificial flies and applying the bindings to fishing rods. There are a great many young people of both sexes, the boys presumably doing apprenticeships. The girls would work until they got married. The factory looks well ordered and efficient and the workers seem cheerful.

The Mill still exists and is now the Forge Mill Museum, telling the story of the needle-making and fishing tackle works and which contains many of the artefacts seen being used in the film.

Bryony Dixon

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Video Clips
Complete film (8:17)