Forge Mill Needle Museum, Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre, Redditch, Worcestershire

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Forge Mill Needle Museum, Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre
IN THE NEWS - 2008

December 2008: Craft fair with a Victorian theme

Debbie Lakeman prepares for the Christmas Fair.

Visitors to Forge Mill Needle Museum will be able to step back in time to meet the Victorians at its Christmas Craft Fair this weekend.

This year's fair, which takes place on Sunday, December 7 from 11am-4pm, will feature Victorian musicians who will greet visitors, a Victorian magician and a Punch and Judy show to lift festive spirits.

Traditional carol singing, which will be led by the Indigo Arts theatre group, will also be on the menu and visitors will be able to browse craft stalls selling unique Christmas gifts, including jewellery, woodwork, knitwear and lavender products.

There will also be food and drink stalls, Christmas craft activities and a Santa's grotto.

Admission is free for children and £1 for adults, which includes entry into a raffle.

Indigo Arts will also invite visitors to enjoy A Redditch Christmas Carol, inspired by Charles Dickens' visit to Redditch in about 1850.

The show will take place at Forge Mill Needle Museum on December 6 and 7 with a warming baked potato included in the ticket price and the opportunity to buy Victorian festive fayre such as roast chestnuts or candy canes, or indulge in a jug of ale from the inn.

Redditch Advertiser, 3 December 2008

October 2008: All fright on the night...

Lyn Baker from Redditch Amateur Theatre Society will be helping run the ghost walk at the Forge Mill Museum. Picture by Sheridan Brown.

It has been halloween heaven at Forge Mill Museum this week as youngsters from across the town delved into the spooky season.

A variety of creative workshops have taken place at the museum including pumpkin carving, pencil character stitching and creepy creature making, as well as a fright night.

And the eerie activities are being topped off with two ghosts walks next Thursday and Friday (November 6 and 7) for those that can handle some extra spookiness.

Staff will be telling tales of the site's well known ghost stories and divulging some of the discoveries professional ghost hunters have made at the museum. The walks cost £4 and start at 7pm.

Redditch Standard, 31 October 2008

October 2008: Artist unveils paintings of battlefields

Artist Rob Perry holding a German helmet and a British bayonet with a painting of Aveluy Wood in the Somme battlefields.

An extraordinary exhibition of paintings depicting the 1914-1918 battlefields has gone on display at Forge Mill Needle Museum.

They were created by well known artist Rob Perry, who painted most of his work while living and working in the less accessible woodland areas of the Somme battlefields.

His unusual technique of working in near darkness has resulted in a series of stunningly atmospheric images of lamp-lit and moonlit trenches that give new insights into these historically significant and emotionally charged sites.

A museum spokesman said the exhibition is very moving and evocative.

On November 2, visitors can meet Rob and have a gallery tour, on October 26 at 3pm, Rob will talk about his inspiration, technique and style, and on November 9 from 2-5pm there will be an afternoon of poignant war poetry read among the exhibition to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Redditch Advertiser, 29 October 2008

October 2008: Paintings echo back to First World War battlefields

Artist Rob Perry gets pensive with a World War One German helmet and his painting of Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

The battlefields of war will be brought to life over the coming months as an extraordinary art exhibition opens in Redditch.

Artist Rob Perry will be showcasing his paintings of the First World War battlefields, Echoes of War, at the Forge Mill Needle Museum from Sunday (October 19).

Created during the winter months while living and working in the woodland areas of the Somme battlefields, the paintings show stunningly atmospheric images of lamp-lit and moonlit trenches and give new insights into these historically significant and emotionally charged sites.

Normal admission charges apply and the exhibition runs until November 30.

On Sunday and on November 2 visitors will also have the chance to meet Mr Perry and enjoy a gallery tour, while next Sunday (October 26, 3pm), the artist will give a talk on his inspiration, technique and style. Tickets for the talk cost £3 and need to be booked.

For more information call the museum on 01527 62509 or visit the artist's website at

Redditch Standard, 17 October 2008

September 2008: To suit all tastes

Forge Mill Museum's keeper of collections Jo-Ann Gloger is looking forward to the food fair. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

Tasty treats will get mouths watering at Forge Mill Museum this weekend as it hosts its first ever food fair.

Staff at the council-run venue have been working hard to get the best in local food and drink ready for its Fabulous Food Fair tomorrow (Saturday).

Exhibitors at the event include Alcester's Purity Brewing, Halfpenny Green Vineyards from Stourbridge, Akiki Organics, Red Kite Health Food and Bennett's Ice Cream.

Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections at the museum, said: "Needles, our coffee bar which is run by Williams Farm Shop, already serves the best produce from Worcestershire and Warwickshire. I know how much our visitors enjoy the food and drink, so we are delighted to be hosting what I hope is the first of many food fairs at Forge Mill."

Entrance to the fair, which runs from 11am until 4pm, is free.

Redditch Standard, 26 September 2008

September 2008: Chance to become a caveman

Education officer Debbie Lake man shows off an arrowhead which can be made from flint at this weekend's workshops. Picture by Sheridan Brown.

Youngsters can discover the caveman in them during a prehistoric survival workshop at Forge Mill Museum tomorrow (Saturday).

The all-age sessions will give children the chance to find out about life in the Stone Age through activities such as flintnapping.

Led by expert Karl Lee, there will be a beginners' workshop in the morning, between 10am and 12.30pm, and a more advanced class from 1.30pm until 4pm. A half-day session costs £8, with a whole day costing £15.

Places must be booked and can be done so by calling the museum on 01527 62509.

Redditch Standard, 12 September 2008

September 2008: The fabric of a winner

Forge Mill's keeper of collections, Jo-Ann Gloger, with Irene MacWilliam's piece entitled 'Look Once Look Twice'. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

A gallery of artistic winners will be on show at the Forge Mill Museum, starting this weekend, in an exhibition extravaganza.

The Charles Henry Foyle Trust, a local education charity which promotes art in the area, will be showcasing the work of past winners of its stitched textile award at the museum as of tomorrow (Saturday).

The exhibition will show the imagination, talent and expertise that made a Foyle Trust winner, and through their work artists will show the new directions they have taken and what their major influences now are.

Entrance to the museum costs £3.90 for adults, £2.95 for senior citizens and £1 for children, and the exhibition will be on show until 12 October 2008.

Redditch Standard, 5 September 2008

August 2008: Close encounter with an alien

Callum gets close to the film Alien. Picture by Sheridan Brown.

Science fiction fans are being giving the chance to get up close to props from Hollywood blockbusters in an out-of-thisworld experience.

Forge Mill Museum launched its month-long Alien Encounter exhibition last Saturday (August 2), giving youngsters the rare opportunity to view props from films such as Star Wars, Alien, Predator and the X-Files.

Among the extraterrestrials on display is a fullsize alien host body used in the first X-Files film, an alien egg from Alien vs Predator and full Stormtrooper and Darth Vader costumes. There are also items cast from the original moulds used in the films, including a Yoda figure and Chewbacca head from Star Wars, a Terminator 2 robot head and a full-size Robocop costume.

And for fans of TV's Dr Who, there is a 'Remembrance' Dalek, which has been recreated based on original BBC visual effects moulds.

Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections at Forge Mill, said: "This is one alien invasion we are really looking forward to. It's a fantastic opportunity for sci-fi fans of all ages to come face to face with legendary Hollywood extraterrestrials."

Alien Encounter runs until August 31, and normal museum entry fees apply.

Redditch Standard, 8 August 2008

August 2008: Exhibition will be out of this world!

Keeper of collections Jo-Ann Gloger with some new friends.

Redditch will be invaded by aliens as an exhibition that's out of this world beams down at Forge Mill Needle Museum.

The Alien Encounter exhibition, which opened on Saturday 2 August, will give science fiction fans a rare chance to get up close to props from Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars, Alien, Predator and the X-Files.

Among the extraterrestrials on display will be a full-size alien host body used in the first X-Files film, an alien egg from Alien vs Predator and full Stormtrooper and Darth Vader costumes.

There are also items cast from the original moulds used in the films, including a Yoda figure and Chewbacca head from Star Wars, a Terminator 2 robot head and full-size Robocop costume.

And for fans of TV's Dr Who, there is a 'Remembrance' Dalek, which has been recreated based on original BBC visual effects moulds.

Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections, said: "This is one alien invasion we're really looking forward to. It's a fantastic opportunity for sci-fi fans of all ages to come face to face with legendary Hollywood extraterrestrials."

Redditch Advertiser, 6 August 2008

July 2008: A chance to go flintknapping

Museum assistant Petrina Muscroft looks forward to welcoming visitors to Forge Mill this weekend. Picture by Sheridan Brown.

The prehistoric art of flintknapping will be brought to life when the Forge Mill Needle Museum celebrates National Archaeology Day this Sunday (July 20).

Flintknapping expert Karl Lee will be demonstrating how tools and weapons such as hand axes and arrow heads were made thousands of years ago at the event to be held in the Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre.

Archaeological activities such as excavating will also be on offer as well as a tour of the site where archaeological backpacks will be available for exploring. Other activities include longbow archery under the expert instruction of the Bowmen of England.

Debbie Lakeman, education officer at the museum, said: "Our Archaeology Day celebrations are always a lot of fun - and this year visitors can step back even further in time by learning about the tools and weapons of the prehistoric era."

Redditch Standard, 18 July 2008

June 2008: Needle museum's coffee bar open

Coffee shop owner John Williams and assistant Jo Woodman serve coffee and cake. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

A new coffee bar serving only the best in local produce is up and running at the historic Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch.

Visitors will be treated to hot and cold drinks, freshly made sandwiches, homemade cakes and snacks at the listed building that tells the facinating story of how Redditch came to dominate the world needle trade.

The Needle Coffee Bar was given the go ahead after Redditch Borough Council granted Williams Farm Shop the contract to run it.

The shop in Studley was placed in the top ten of local food heroes by satellite TV company UKTV FOOD last year, despite only being in its first year of business.

Dave Wheeler, the borough council's services manager, said: "This is a welcome addition to services offered at the venue and part of our ongoing committment to improve the overall attractiveness of this historic site."

The Needle Coffee Bar is currently open to the public - and not just those visiting the centre - from 11am until 4pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. It opens daily from July to September.

Redditch Standard, 20 June 2008

June 2008: Churches will mark Abbey's anniversary

Rev Dick Johnson, Father Tony Joyce and Deacon Tony Martin inspect the ruins of Bordesley Abbey.

An attraction in Redditch steeped in history will celebrate its 870th anniversary with an open air service next week.

Members of churches throughout the town will converge on Bordesley Abbey on Tuesday night (June 10). The service starts at 7.30pm and will be at the end of a procession from St Stephen's Church in the town centre, which begins half-an-hour earlier.

Reverend Dick Johnson, industrial chaplain and vicar in the Holy Trinity Anglican Parish in Redditch and chair of the Town Centre Ecumenical Covenant of Churches, said: "This event not only commemorates an important chapter in the history of the town but also celebrates the continuing contribution that the churches make. It is humbling to remember the centuries of dedicated worship and service the Abbey represents, and to try to meet the modern challenges we face today."

The Abbey was founded by the Cistercian order in around 1138 and lasted 400 years before being dissolved by Henry VIII. At the time it was the first Cistercian house in Worcestershire. The Cistercian order ultimately became very wealthy, managing large farms known as granges. These were often some distance from the Abbey itself and in this case the home farm was at Hewell Grange in Tardebigge.

By the early 1800s the Abbey was dilapidated and not fit for worship and with the growth of the needle-making industry in Redditch encouraging more people into the town, a chapel was deemed to be needed. It sparked St Stephen's Chapel, built in 1807, on what has become known as Church Green.

Today Bordesley Abbey and neighbouring Forge Mill Museum are popular visitor attractions hosting fun-filled medieval events for families.

Report by Gary Morgan.

Redditch Standard, 6 June 2008

June 2008: Museum is set to step back in time

Getting ready to perform - medieval minstrels Maryse and John Sullivan from the group Sloe Gin. Picture by Sheridan Brown.

Forge Mill Museum is bringing the past back to life this weekend with a festival of medieval merriment.

Company Ecorcheur will be setting up camp, and as well as combat displays, will be demonstrating cooking and crafts from the period, while Discovering Medieval will be interpreting the horrible side to history with a barber's surgeon showing how blood sucking leeches were used.

Residents will also be able to experience punishments of the time and put themselves in the stocks, and Brother William, a Cistercian monk, will be delivering tours of Bordesley Abbey, explaining the harsh reality of a monk's life.

An evening of medieval entertainment will also take place tomorrow (Saturday) between 6pm and 9pm and includes music from Sloe Gin, a fire-breathing jester, a medieval magician and a puppet show. Refreshments will also be available in the form of hog roast and traditional English mead.

The day of activities will run between 11am and 4pm.

Redditch Standard, 6 June 2008

May 2008: Sewing donation

Inkberrow Design Centre's Brenda Killigrew watches over 13 year old Laura as she sows away at Ridgeway Middle School. Picture by Nick Hands.

Lucky pupils have been well and truly stitched up after being donated sewing machines as part of a textiles challenge jointly organised by a Redditch firm, Inkberrow Design Centre and Forge Mill Museum.

The challenge is for pupils to produce a piece using the new machines to be displayed at Forge Mill's forthcoming 'Dreamtime' exhibition in July.

To complete the task, participating schools including St Augustine's Catholic High, Ridgeway Middle, St Bede's Catholic Middle and Birchensale Middle, have each been donated a Pfaff Embellisher by Moons Moat company Viking Sewing Machines Ltd.

The pupils and teachers have been taught how to use the machines by Design Centre tutor Laura Young.

Pfaff embellishers are easy to use felting machines that will help youngsters of all abilities produce surface textile effects on fabric without using thread.

Debbie Lakeman, education officer at Forge Mill, said: "I am intrigued to see what the pupils will produce."

Redditch Standard, 30 May 2008

May 2008: Museum offers mayhem at half-term

Jo-Ann Gloger from Forge Mill Museum with a dragon puppet that can be made next week. Picture by Sheridan Brown.

Children can spend their half-term with Saint George and the Dragon during Forge Mill Museum's Medieval Mayhem activities.

Ahead of its Medieval Festival on June 7 and 8, staff are running two days of fun and creative workshops next week. They include making fearsome, fire breathing dragons and designing their own knight's shield on Tuesday (May 27).

Then on Wednesday (May 28) a 'Storm the Castle' activity will allow youngsters to explore medieval weapons by creating their own model of a catapult.

Debbie Lakeman, education officer at the museum, said: "These are the first activities as part of our medieval season so hopefully it will get people in the medieval mood ready for the celebrations in two weeks time."

Both workshops will take place between 1pm and 3pm and are priced at 4. Booking is essential. All those attending the workshops will receive free entry into the medieval festival.

Redditch Standard, 23 May 2008

May 2008: Pupils delve into Abbey's past

James and Holly, both eight, from Batchley First School, get dressed for the part.

Pupils from Batchley First School have been discovering local history with the help of staff from Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre and the Palace Theatre.

They have been working with the museum on a Learning Links project funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. Pupils in Years three and four have spent the past few weeks discovering the history behind the ruins of Bordesley Abbey.

Activities included meeting a medieval Cistercian monk and learning about his life, writing with quills and making clay tiles like those found by archaeologists on the site.

Following on from their work on the monks of Bordesley, the children brought history to life in a workshop supported by the Palace Theatre Heritage Project. With the help of Jestaminute Theatre Company pupils got into role and prepared their own dramatic interpretation of a monk's life.

The project culminated in a visit to both sites as part of Local and Community History Month.

Redditch Standard, 16 May 2008

May 2008: Mill set to come to life

Lyn Baker, of Redditch Amateur Theatre Society, will help bring National Mills Day at Forge Mill to life on Sunday. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

Forge Mill Museum will fling open its doors on Sunday (May 11) to celebrate National Mills Day.

Visitors will be able to see what life was really like for Victorian needle mill workers as well as discovering more about the hardships they suffered - all in the surroundings of the only water-powered needle scouring mill left in the world.

The mill will come to 'life' courtesy of the Redditch Amateur Theatre Society whose members will get in character to tell the stories of life years ago.

Visitors will also be able to see the waterwheel in operation and children can get creative with the themed craft activities on offer. The event runs from 2pm until 5pm and is free of charge.

Redditch Standard, 9 May 2008

May 2008: New kids club

Debbie Lakeman, Education Officer at Forge Mill Museum.

A new Saturday club for children interested in art and history will come to life at Forge Mill Museum this month. It will link in with the museum's exhibition programme and give inquisitive and creative kids the chance to get up close to the many artefacts displayed.

Starting on Saturday, May 10 from 10am until 12noon, the first session will be themed around the museum's Wacky Widgets exhibition, where children can have a go at creating their own crazy Victorian inventions.

The sessions will run once a month on a Saturday and there are five planned for this season. It is aimed at children aged eight to 12 and the annual fee, which includes all five sessions, is 18.

Booking in advance is essential and individual places on the workshops can also be reserved, priced at 4.50. To book, call the museum on 01527 62509, or for more information visit

Redditch Advertiser, 7 May 2008

April 2008: Wacky widgets

Jo-Ann Gloger with some of the Wacky Widgets on display at Forge Mill, including a ladies' gun purse and a Gatling stapler, both circa 1880. Picture by Nick Hands.

Visitors to Forge Mill Needle Museum over the next couple of weeks can see some pretty unusual Victorian knick-knacks in their Wacky Widgets exhibition.

The exhibition, on at the Riverside venue until Sunday, May 11, comes from a private collector, Maurice Collins, who is a world authority on Victorian and Edwardian antique gadgets.

Strange items such a Victorian nose shaper to supposedly make the user's nose more beautiful, a clockwork teasmaid and an electric hair restorer from the 1890s will all be on display.

Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections at Forge Mill Needle Museum, said: "This exhibition is a wonderful insight into the ingenuity of the Victorian age."

Redditch Standard, 25 April 2008

April 2008: Making money out of history

Medieval moneyer Grunal Moneta will be making a few quid at Forge Mill's Open Day next Sunday.

A medieval moneyer will be the star attraction at Forge Mill Museum's Open Day next weekend.

The free family event takes place between 11am and 4pm next Sunday (April 13) and will give visitors a sneak preview of what is in store at the site throughout the year.

With the much anticipated medieval festival on the bill in June, Grunal Moneta will be on site during the open day talking to guests about his life and demonstrating how coins were minted hundreds of years ago. There will also be a themed balloon artist creating beings from outer space as a warm up for August's alien invasion event, while guests can also see how preparations are going for a variety of productions taking place later in the year.

Alongside all the entertainment visitors can explore improvements to the museum site which have been put in place over winter. Interpretive signs around the venue, audio features and a large amount of landscaping are just a few of the new additions. More information about the venue's forthcoming events can be found at the museum's new website,

Redditch Standard, 4 April 2008

March 2008: History a click away

Tony Jay and Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections at Forge Mill, have a glimpse at the newly launched website. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

The past is being brought right up to date as Forge Mill Needle Museum and Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre launch its swanky new website,

It provides background information about the two historical sites of Forge Mill and Bordesley Abbey as well as details about the facilities available and services provided. The website, which went 'live' on Monday (March 24), was designed by Tony Jay of Arrowscape, a website design company based in Redditch.

He said: "As a local man I was delighted to work on this project and I have learnt so much more about the history on our doorstep and all the museum has to offer with their fantastic events programme."

Debbie Lakeman, education officer at the museum, said the whole team were excited with the launch of their first specific website, having previously been a part of the Redditch Borough Council page. She said: "It's very easy to use and very colourful and it will be kept up to date giving people lots of information about what's on and what's coming up. It will also enable people from outside of Redditch to find out more about us really easily just by tapping the address into their computers."

As part of the launch and to encourage people to log on, Forge Mill is offering family tickets to the day and evening events of its Medieval Festival in June for two people selected at random who can find the answers to two questions on the website. They are; what 'out of this world' exhibition runs from August 2 to 31? and where did the Cistercian monks who founded Bordesley Abbey in 1140 come from originally? Answers should be e-mailed to, which can be done through the site's 'contacts' page.

Redditch Standard, 28 March 2008

March 2008: Antique Gadgets form Exhibition

Debbie Lakeman fills a basket full of eggs ahead of Forge Mill's array of Easter treats. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

A cracking new Victorian exhibition will hatch the start of Easter fun at Forge Mill Needle Museum and Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre next week.

The Wacky Widgets display comes from the private collection of Maurice Collins, a world authority on antique gadgets.

He will showcase a variety of Victorian and Edwardian labour saving devices that never quite made it on to the shelves, including the aptly named 'Staminator' designed to make you fit.

Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections at the Needle Mill Lane museum, said: "The collection is very unusual and gives a marvellous insight into the inventive Victorian mind."

Wacky Widgets will be on show until May 11.

The school holidays will also see the birth of a range of egg-citing Easter activities and workshops which are sure to put a spring into the children's step. From today (March 21) until April 6 there will be a fun Easter egg trail around the museum with a tasty treat given to young egg-splorers who complete the challenge. The trail is free but usual museum entry applies, including free admission to Redditch residents on Wednesdays.

Then on Wednesday (March 26) children can get creative with a needle and fabric to make some fluffy Easter bunnies, under the watchful eye of textiles tutor Jane Cobbett. Kids also have a chance to make their own yummy Easter tummy filler and put them in an Easter basket with sessions on Thursday (March 27) and Monday (March 31). If that was not enough the museum is also hosting a Spring time fun workshop on April 1 where youngsters can design and decorate a plant pot and plant some seeds ready for Summer.

Debbie Lakeman, education officer at Forge Mill, said: "We are hoping lots of people will come and join in the egg-citement here at the museum over the holidays." All workshops run from 1pm until 3pm and need to be booked in advance on 01527 62509.

Redditch Standard, 21 March 2008


Forge Mill and Bordesley Abbey are frequently featured in newspaper and magazine articles, both locally and nationally.

With the permission of the publishers, we hope to include interesting articles and photographs on this page, which will grow as time goes by.