Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch is an unusual and fascinating place to visit. This historic site illustrates the rich heritage of the needle and fishing tackle industries. Models and recreated scenes provide a vivid illustration of how needles were once made, and how Redditch once produced 90% of the world's needles. The museum tells the fascinating and sometimes gruesome story of needle making in Victorian times. You can also step back in time and experience the largely unchanged atmosphere of an original scouring (polishing) mill. Much of the original Victorian water powered machinery remains and is working on Tuesday afternoons and on weekends, and also for schools and group visits - barring mechanical problems! It is unique in that it is the only water powered scouring mill left in the world.
The middle floor is used as the temporary exhibition space for the varied exhibition programme. The top floor holds an extensive and unique collection of needle related items. You will see some of the more unusual needles and their uses and also some very rare and beautiful needle and fish hook displays which were made for the exhibitions of 1924. They have a very interesting collection of needle cases produced by the Redditch needle companies. On the same site, just a very short walk from Forge Mill Museum, are the ruins of Bordesley Abbey - a medieval Cistercian Abbey which has been extensively excavated.
In 1140 a group of Cistercian monks from Garendon Abbey in Leicestershire were granted land in the Arrow Valley by Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan and Earl of Worcester. This enabled the monks to found Bordesley Abbey and turn the Arrow Valley into a place suitable for a monastery. Bordesley means 'the place where boards were obtained'. Archaeological evidence show that when the monks arrived the Valley was a very marshy and inhospitable place, unsuitable for the building of a large Abbey - so they dug a complex drainage system and diverted the River Arrow. Excavations show that the first buildings were made of wood, but within a few years they replaced it with stone buildings. You can see evidence of how the Abbey changed as you walk around - from the early plain green sandstone to the more ornately decorated later red sandstone. The 'Night' stairs are also clearly visible - so called because the monks used these stairs to get into the church for the first service at 2am! We know that the Abbey had about 20 farms or 'granges' in Warwickshire and Worcestershire and the sale of its produce - cereals and especially wool - gave the Abbey much of its wealth. But this prosperity, however was not to last. In 1538 Henry VIII dissolved the monastic houses and Bordesley was demolished and the estates sold. The ruins remained buried until JM Woodward (tutor to the Bartleet family) first excavated them in 1864.
The museum's free car park has designated disabled spaces. There is a disabled toilet. A manual wheelchair is available for use on site. Both the Forge Mill Needle Museum and the Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre are wheelchair accessible aside from the top floors. The museum has a hearing loop and Braille and large type guides. They also have an 'upstairs downstairs' book which shows photographs with notes of items on display on the top floor of both Forge Mill and the Visitor Centre. Assistance dogs are welcome. Talks by the curator can be booked for £59.00
Location : Needle Mill Lane, Riverside, Redditch B98 8HY.
Transport: Redditch (National Rail) then bus (First 146). Bus Routes : First Bus 146 and 62 stop near by.
Opening Times : Daily 11:00 to 16:30; Saturday / Sunday closes at 16:00.
Tickets : Adults £5.10; Concessions £3.90; Children £1.70.
Tel: 01527 62509