My 3x grt grandad was a Needlemaker, As was a 3x grand uncle. I never really knew much about the subject so I delved into the online world to find out more.

John Beeston was born in Nottinghamshire around 1772. He appears on the 1841 census as a Needlemaker alongside his son John Jr, so presumably he was working from home to make his needles. On the 1851 census John was a retired Needlemaker but John Jr was still Needlemaker.

Henry Lydall b.1831 in Whitwick Leicestershire was also a Needlemaker. He can be found on the 1851 census as an apprentice Needlemaker living with a John Lydall and his family on Belton Street, Shepshed. He travels up country to Nottingham where he meets and marries Lucy Rodgers, his occupation given as Needlemaker. From here he travels to the USA eventually settling in Connecticut where he sets up a needle making company.

Needle Making - a break down of stages
  • Cutting malleable wrought iron wire to the required length.
  • Flattering or flattening the wires at the head where the eye will be formed.
  • Piercing the eye. Puncturing the flat head to make the eye
  • Cleaning the eye. This includes making the gutter for the thread and filing any flash
  • Pointing the needle, filing the needle to a point, one needle at a time.
  • Hardening the needle, which included adding some sort of carbon to make the needle harder.
  • Tempering the needles, this is the second stage of heat treatment to give longitudinal strength.
  • Making up for scouring, wrapping the needles in a roll with emery powder and fish oil.
  • Polishing, rolling the needles against each other back and forth in the rolls under a lead weight, this can take up to two days, changing the linen and grade of emery powder.
  • Drying, the needles are washed in warm soapy water before being dried in a rotating barrel with warm sawdust.

A more detailed process