Sunday, 28 November 2010


We spent a wonderful winter's morning 40 floors above London today. On our visit we were told that the steel used in the construction of The Shard (as it wishes to be known, no colloquial nicknames needed sadly) is from the north of England.

View of The Shard's shadow from the 40th floor by Manufacture & Industry

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


A very brief post to document the understated documentation that came with a recently purchased Brompton. There are plans for a M&I field trip to the Brompton factory premises in 2011. We see that Will Self has already visited.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Robin Day, Britain's most famous furniture designer, passed away on 9th November 2010 aged 95.

Born in High Wycombe, a route in to furniture was geographically apt. After art school he worked at a local furniture factory, ensuring a depth of understanding of the manufacturing process that would see his designs sell in their millions around the world.

A wonderful obituary of Mr. Day has been written by Fiona MacCarthy of The Guardian so I shall not attempt to better that here. Instead, I will take a quote from Charlotte Higgins' blog to finish on:

'Remember him next time you sit in the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican Theatre, on the platform at a Tube station, or on a Polypropylene stacking chair (the standard seat of my, and so many other people's, schooldays). His work, as he would have wanted, goes on.'

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


We have been looking forward to sharing this video with our audience since discovering it a couple of months ago. Many thanks to Mr. Sam Pinkstone for allowing this to happen.

Monday, 15 November 2010


As mentioned last week, we were lucky enough to visit Old Town in 2009 and recently we got in touch with some questions. The responses from Will (and Marie) at Old Town were as we had hoped: erudite, opinionated and informative.

The full handwritten answers are published above. Here are some of our favourite extracts:

On the last year at Old Town:

'Mainly engaged in producing 50 to 70 items per week. Between January and March we attempted to secure a shop nearer to our customers in London... We had a lovely new shop sign made by Ashley Bishop.'

On British manufacturing:

'I do get a sense that the issue, i.e the perceived advantage (of making products in the UK) has dropped off the radar as no one expects anything to be made here. I don't mean to sound negative but the kudos of being British made seems to have waned. I don't claim to have my finger on the pulse of current thinking so I could be totally wrong.'

On the UK Fashion & Textile Association's 'Let's Make it Here' website:

'I can't see where it links designers to factories/suppliers... Some years ago there was the International Wool Secretariat and the Cotton Institute which both had libraries of available fabric which was brilliant. Of course Britain can make it but will customers be prepared to pay for it?'

On their highlights of 2010:

'Miss Willey and I had a lovely week in Walberswick. (We) have nearly had an entire year without a television. Met a great hero (I will leave the mystery of this one to the proprietors of Old Town to impart if you get the chance to visit them - BF) who came to the shop. The cat was ill but made a full recovery. After a long, fruitless search for another machinist (we have seven at the moment), Larisa, who speaks little English, turned up at our door and she is fantastic.'

(A big thank you to Marie and Will at Old Town for their willingness and generosity in helping make this postal interview happen.)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


We were delighted to receive this handsome box from Old Town, purveyors of traditional clothing made in England, earlier this week.

Having visited the shop (in Holt, Norfolk) back in December last year, we stayed in touch with Marie and Will, the shop's proprietors, and asked them to answer a few questions that we sent by Royal Mail. We will be posting their responses shortly.

Monday, 8 November 2010


'We don’t want to modernise. We don’t want to go modern, we’re not a heel bar. We’re going back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. There’s a lot of people bringing vintage shoes and we can take them apart and put them back together again. There’s nothing we can’t do to a pair of shoes here.' Ken Hines, cobbler at Well Heeled, Bethnal Green, London E2.

Quote from this piece from Spitalfields Life on the work of cobblers in the area.

As the tag from many a reputable cobbler reads: 'Shoes worth wearing are worth repairing.'

Image from Spitalfields Life

Sunday, 7 November 2010


We highly recommend this tome on the history of Savile Row by James Sherwood (Thames & Hudson.) Beautifully designed and impressively in-depth the book is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest shopping streets in the world.

(Pictures from Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke - RRP £45 but available for a lower price on certain online retail sites)

Friday, 5 November 2010


Last night I spent some of my evening putting together an Ercol table that we bought from a lady in Liverpool. The construction of the base is truly beautiful, it was slightly sad to think I won't be seeing it again until we (inevitably) move house once more.

In an instance of fortuitous timing, Ercol have today published some pictures of DEFRA minister Lord Henley visiting its factory in Princes Risborough.

We would love to see more of the steam bending process that is intrinsic to the creation of the Windsor Quaker chair.

Picture from Ercol

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Came across this in today's International Herald Tribune. Dyson has some pertinent points, the best of which are as follows:

'Getting rich by making things is sort of dirty. That view pervades our culture.'
(On how he was steered toward the classics and warned that if he did poorly in school he would end up in a factory.)

'It starts with the government, oddly... talking up and backing big engineering projects.'
(On how the UK can change deep-seated cultural views toward engineering and manufacturing.)