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 - 2014

November 2014: Victorian Christmas at the historic museum

Debbie Lakeman from Forge Mill. The museum will be decking the halls with holly and other greenery this week.

Forge Mill will be decking the museum with holly and other greenery this week as it prepares for its annual Victorian Christmas Craft Fair.

The fair, which runs on November 29 and 30, will feature more than 20 craft stalls each day, displaying beautiful homemade gifts such as candles, soaps, wreaths, knitted items, jewellery, cakes, jams and wooden gifts.

This year visitors will be able to come and watch Mrs Prosser prepare her Dickensian Christmas dinner.

She will be inviting people to stir the Christmas pudding and prepare Norfolk biffins for the oven, and be on hand to discuss her 18th century recipes.

There will also be a display demonstrating Victorian games and optical illusions.

Debbie Lakeman, education officer at Forge Mill, said: "We are really excited for the Dickensian Christmas recipes – what could be better to get you in the mood for the festive period?"

Festive music and carol singing will be provided by Alcester Victoria Silver Band and Indigo Arts to add some atmosphere.

Younger visitors will also be able to make a visit to Father Christmas between 11am to 3pm. The event runs from 11am to 4pm each day and entry is £1 for adults. There are small additional charges to visit Father Christmas and for the Christmas decoration craft activity.

Redditch Advertiser, 26 November 2014

September 2014: Forge Mill day is stuffed full of fun

Mayor Path Witherspoon meets Shrek and Princess Fiona.

Visitors were scaring to go at Forge Mill's scarecrow day.

There was a lots of straw-related fun at the needle museum's annual event which also linked with the town's 50th birthday celebrations.

Residents made colourful characters and the winner of the best scarecrow went to Your Ideas Youth and Community group with their creation Feathers.

Siblings Owen and Evelyn secured second prize with Shrek and Princess Fiona, while third prize went to the Andrews family for creating Thomas and Floella.

About 500 people attended the event organised by Redditch Borough Council, which also included pony rides and face painting.

Redditch Standard, 5 September 2014

August 2014: Robot wars takes centre stage

Debbie Lakeman from Forge Mill Museum meets and greets some robots on display. Photo by Marcus Mingins.

A day of destruction is on offer at Forge Mill as Robot Wars takes centre stage.

Visitors are invited to see robots from the hit BBC television series on Sunday (August 31).

From 11am until 4pm people can get up close with house robot Major Damage which weights 960kg as well as former heavyweight champion Ripper. A special 3m by 3m arena will be constructed where people can watch display fights and tournament matches in the featherweight category.

There will also be the opportunity for the public to have a go and drive the robots themselves, while an exhibition showcasing famous bots, cyborgs and androids will also be on offer.

Both goodies and baddies will be on display including Robocop, a Star Wars battle droid, and Robby from Lost in Space.

Debbie Lakeman, access and learning officer for Forge Mill, said: "We are extremely excited about Robot Wars coming to the museum. It is guaranteed to be a day full of fun for budding, wannabe roboteers and fans alike."

Entry costs £3 for adults and £1 for children which includes entry into the museum.

Redditch Standard, 29 August 2014

August 2014: Battling robots

Admire Major Damage at Forge Mill.

Forge Mill Museum is bracing itself for a day of construction and destruction as Robot Wars takes centre stage.

This will be the final event of a robot-themed summer for the needle museum and will provide visitors with a last chance to see the popular Robots, Cyborgs and Androids exhibition which has been on display for the past couple of months.

Visitors will be able to get up close with one of Robot Wars' house robots, Major Damage, who weighs in at 960kg. They can also get a closer look at former heavyweight champion, Ripper.

A special 3m x 3m arena will be constructed where people can watch display fights and tournament matches in the featherweight category.

There will also be the opportunity for the public to 'have-a-go' and drive the robots themselves.

Debbie Lakeman, access and learning officer for Forge Mill, said: "We are extremely excited about Robot Wars coming to the museum. It is guaranteed to be a day full of fun for budding, wannabe roboteers and fans alike. Get ready - 3, 2, 1, activate."

The event is running this Sunday from 11am until 4pm. Tickets are priced at £3 for adults and £1 for children. This also includes entry into the museum itself.

Redditch Advertiser, 27 August 2014

August 2014: Museum gets ready for a fun-filled scarecrow day

Petrina Muscroft, museum officer at Forge Mill, with a straw creation.

Stone the crows, there's lots of straw-related fun to be had at Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch.

Residents can make colourful characters as part of a scarecrow day.

As part of the event, organised by Redditch Council, a competition will be held for the best one created.

People need to turn up with some old clothes and pay £3 for the materials which will be provided to make the scarecrows.

The scarecrows can take part in the competition held at the scarecrow day which also includes children's activities, pony rides and face painting. Prizes up for grabs include £25, £50 and £75 Kingfisher vouchers.

The scarecrow making days are being held on August 20 and 21 at the museum from 11am until 3pm. The scarecrow day is set for August 24 from 11am until 5pm. Entry is £2 for adults and £1 for children and includes entry into the cyborgs and robots exhibition at the museum.

Redditch Advertiser, 20 August 2014

August 2014: Stone the crows it's scary

Petrina Muscroft, museum operations supervisor, makes one of the scarecrows presentable.

Scaring the daylights out of the competition could bag lucky residents a top prize.

As part of Forge Mill Needle Museum's Scarecrow Day residents are being challenged to make their own colourful straw filled character.

They will then be entered into the competition with Kingfisher Shopping Centre vouchers worth £25, £50 and £75 up for grabs.

To enter residents should turn up at the museum on Wednesday and Thursday (August 20 and 21) between 11am and 3pm with some old clothes. For the price of £3 they will then be given the materials they need to bring their scarecrow to life.

The winners will be chosen on Scarecrow Day on August 24 between 11am and 5pm. The event will also feature children's activities, pony rides and face painting.

Redditch Standard, 15 August 2014

May 2014: Museum event will send you back to the Forties

Fancy a lift? Step back in time this weekend at Forge Mill Museum when it hosts a 1940s-themed event.

Forge Mill Museum will be stepping back in time this weekend when it hosts a 1940s-themed event on Sunday from 11am until 4pm.

There will be re-enactments, displays and vehicles from the era at the event. Visitors will be able to find out about fashions of the time and what life was like.

Domestic and military vehicles will be on display and there will be an extensive display of model planes.

The soundtrack to the event will be provided by Ruby Lamont and Indigo Arts, who will both be performing a set of songs from the era.

Children can also take part in a plane spotter trail and craft activity.

The Abbey Meadows Coffee Bar will be serving vintage teas in keeping with the event. Entry is £3 for adults and £1 for children.

Redditch Advertiser, 14 May 2014

April 2014: Town's heritage put on show

Interviewee Gilbert Day and his wife Chris take a look at the exhibition. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

Redditch's industrial heritage was brought to life through the words of those who helped shape it.

Jestaminute Community Theatre group staged a living history exhibition called One Back of Nineteen at Forge Mill Needle Museum last Saturday and Sunday (April 12 and 13).

It displayed the findings of a £28,000 Heritage Lottery funded project to record and preserve the memories and experiences of those who worked in Redditch between 1939 and 1964.

Visitors were treated to a series of linked readings created from the oral testimonies gathered and delivered by community members including the U3A.

It was one of the 50 events the community has been challenged to organise in celebration of Redditch's 50th anniversary as a new town.

So far more than 30 have been registered on the So Redditch website. There will also be a week long festival at the end of July. Visit to register an event or for more information.

Redditch Standard, 18 April 2014

March 2014: Name change marked with vintage party

Andrew Bullimore and his mum Karen Bullimore enjoy afternoon tea with caterer Tracey Reynolds and Jo-Anne Gloger. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

A vintage tea party helped welcome in a change of name for a café based at a town visitor attraction.

Sally-Ann Harris has been given the franchise to run the café at Forge Mill Needle Museum which has been renamed Abbey Meadows Café.

It officially opens on Mother's Day Weekend (tomorrow and Sunday) but as a treat for staff and volunteers at the Needle Mill Lane museum were served a selection of savoury and sweet homemade treats from tiered cake stands and tea from mismatched china crockery.

Gillian Crawley, the museum's manager, said: "We have tasted her cake and have already declared it to be the best in Redditch, it's so good she could easily win the Great British Bake Off."

Redditch Standard, 28 March 2014

March 2014: A tasty treat in store at Forge Mill

Tracey Cross and Alan Wedgbury, with Kayleigh Reynolds, from the new caterers.

A tasty new venture has been launched at Redditch's Forge Mill Needle Museum.

The museum has launched a partnership with popular local caterer Sally-Ann Harris, who will now be running the café franchise at Forge Mill under the trading name of Abbey Meadows Café Bar.

She is already well known in the town as she caters for Redditch Masonic Lodge.

A Forge Mill spokesman said: "We are extremely pleased to have Sally on board, and as an introduction to the Forge Mill staff and volunteers she is preparing a vintage afternoon tea. A selection of savoury and sweet home-made treats will be served from tiered cake stands and our beverage drunk from mismatched china crockery. We have tasted her cake and have already declared it to be the best in Redditch. It's so good she could easily win the Great British Bake Off."

The new venture will open to the public over the Mother's Day weekend, March 29 and 30.

Redditch Advertiser, 26 March 2014

February 2014: Exhibition charts the crucial developments

Demolition of part of the old town centre.

The success of the development of Redditch as a new town is set to be examined as part of an exhibition marking the start of the borough's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Members of Redditch Local History Society have analysed scores of archive material left behind by the Redditch Development Corporation for the History of Redditch exhibition from 1964 to 2014 which runs from Wednesday, March 12 to 30 at Forge Mill Needle Museum.

Among them is Brian Stallard, a former chartered engineer with the corporation, who has first hand knowledge of the challenges faced in developing the new town to grow from a population of 24,000 to a projected 100,000 by the end of the 20th century - a target which won't actually be reached on current projections until about 2030.

The exhibition will focus on seven key areas of the development and set out the planners' vision, how it was implemented and an analysis of the success of the plans.

One of those areas is the town centre which was the most heavily affected by the changes, with large residential areas such as Evesham Street and Walford Street cleared to make way for The Kingfisher Shopping Centre. Many 'Old Redditch' residents feel it was a mistake that ripped the heart out of the town and a new centre should have been constructed in what is now known as Oakenshaw.

But Mr Stallard is not convinced that would have led to a better situation than the town finds itself in today.

"The other side of the coin is what would have happened if we had built the town centre somewhere else? With a new shopping centre on another site this centre would have declined. You would also have had to move the health centre, the banking sector - it was more than just the shopping centre," he said.

Mr Stallard revealed the bandstand area survived, partly because it was a conservation area, and also because the corporation's board felt it had 'ambience' and the shops were generally uniform in design.

There are a number of quirky features to the town centre design including the car parks which were constructed so motorists would pass the maximum number of spaces going up and the least going down, allowing cars to leave within an average of seven seconds per car.

Special dispensation was also granted from the Government to have the name Redditch included on road signs directing people to the town centre to avoid confusion as there were so many surrounding town centres.

Mr Stallard said the town centre plan had worked but modern developments had pulled it apart, particularly the rise of out of town supermarkets with the loss of Sainsbury's and Tesco from the Kingfisher Shopping Centre.

"It was conceived as a consumables town centre as opposed to durables. The bulk of the shopping was intended to be done in Redditch," he said.

"When Tesco opened in the town centre it was the biggest supermarket in Europe based on area, over two floors. When they moved out the centre declined. The development corporation was against out of town shopping.

"But the biggest problem is the internet and that's going to affect every town, whether a new town or not."

Derek Coombes, one of the historians working on the project, said another example of where the corporation may have made a difference was flooding. In the 1970s a series of balancing lakes were constructed, including Arrow Valley Lake, to avoid possible future flooding as part of the new town expansion.

"Redditch has been very fortunate to avoid such problems, but is this due to good luck or the work of the Development Corporation?".

The exhibition is open during Forge Mill's usual opening hours with normal admission charges applying, although entry is free to Redditch residents on Wednesdays.

It is also the first event in the So Redditch programme to mark the 50th anniversary of new town designation, which will culminate in a week of events from July 26 to August 3.

Redditch Standard, 28 February 2014

February 2014: Exhibition is a real joy for quilt-lovers

Jo-Anne Gloger at Forge Mill Museum. 'Connections' is an exhibition from the Cwilt Cymru group.

Forge Mill Needle Museum is holding an exhibition of work from the Cwilt Cymru group - a group of contemporary quilters from Wales.

The group's first exhibition, Spirit of the Celts, opened to great critical acclaim at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham.

This new exhibition, Connections, explores and interprets this theme in diverse ways.

Some members examine aspects of their own Welsh history and geography, from Anglesey's bridge to its windmills, while others looked to the intricacies of Welsh language and its literature for their inspiration. It runs from now until March 9.

Redditch Advertiser, 26 February 2014

February 2014: Paint your quilts

Forge Mill's Debbie Lakeman with some of the quilts on display. Picture by Marcus Mingins.

Residents are being offered a piece of the action as part of a fun arty work-shop at Forge Mill Needle Museum.

Painted quilts sessions take place on Tuesday and Wednesday (February 18 and 19) and are inspired by the Needle Mill Lane museum's new quilt exhibition Connections.

Children and families mix their own paint following a recipe and then get creative by producing their own square to become part of a painted quilt with Redditch connections.

Sarah Burns, a student of fine art from Staffordshire University, is leading the workshops.

People can take part in the activity by dropping in on either of the two days anytime between 11am and 3pm. The workshops are free but usual admission fees to the museum apply, except on Wednesdays when entry is free to Redditch residents.

Redditch Standard, 14 February 2014


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

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