Monday, 30 January 2012


During the week that the Design Museum's plans for a new home come 2014 are released, Paul Smith shares his thoughts on the perception of design (BBC R4)

Call for manufacturing to play bigger role, says leading industrialist (FT)

Some words on 'details of quality' and the Japanese consumer (SEH Kelly)


Further UK manufacturing related news on Make it British

Photo of Mark and Maria Whitehead of Cumbria's Hawkshead Relish, by Murdo Macleod, from The Guardian

Friday, 27 January 2012


"The drive is passion. And pride. When you take all the heritage that you were born with - it's in your blood - and you carry it on, that's the driving force. But if you haven't got the respect and love for the garment and the tweed - to nurture and put it all together - then you ain't going to go anywhere. I think that has died in a lot of companies in Ireland, and England, and the world over. That's what has died.

"I think if small and medium-sized companies - who have had that in the past can relight that, ignite it again and get that drive and passion, and pride, then there is a great vacuum there in the world today for great products that come with that pride. But the passion will be seen in the finished product. There is a market there for it. I think it can be re-established, and employment can go on the up-scale, if we can instill that in the minds of people again."

John Joseph Hanna (of Hanna Hats) from Donegal Town in Ireland, in Conversations on the Coast by Nick Hand.

Monday, 23 January 2012


The EEF's Executive Survey on the outlook for 2012, according to UK manufacturers (EEF)

A brief interview with Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren (Think Quarterly)

The 'What lessons can the UK learn from Germany in manufacturing?' debate continues (Fresh Business Thinking)

On a similar note, Ian Robertson, head of sales and board member at BMW raises the issue that apprentices 'enjoy a great place in society' in Germany (Telegraph)

Not quite a story... yet. The official Olympic teapot is made by Wedgwood in the UK. Or is it? (Steven Moore)

Monday, 16 January 2012


On the Carreducker blog they are covering their shoemaking course as it progresses (Carreducker)

The Great British Homebrew winner is announced and his beer is stocked in Nicholson's pubs (SIBA)

Brits do well in the Designs of the Year (Domus)


For other UK making stories (predominantly fashion based) in the press this week, see Make it British

Photo from the aforementioned Carreducker blog

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


The Talisker distillery has been producing its sweet and peaty single-malt whisky on the shore of Skye’s Loch Harport since 1830. Key to this whisky’s unique character is the distillery’s insistence on simple, traditional methods of production.

“There are only four ingredients in Talisker: water, yeast, barley and peat,” says distillery manager Mark Lochhead. “So it’s important to use the best water possible. Luckily, on Skye we’re blessed with amazingly pure spring water.” Contrary to what many people might believe, however, Talisker’s peaty flavour isn’t down to the water; it’s introduced in the form of peat smoke as the malted barley is dried in the kiln. This malt is then crushed into a coarse powder called grist and is mixed with hot water in a large copper mash tun.

The sugary water (or wort, as it’s known) is drained from the mash tun and pumped into wooden vats, where yeast is added. The wort is then left beer-like substance called wash. Next, the wash is double-distilled using the five traditional, steam-heated copper stills, resulting in a strong, clear spirit.

“Traditionally, Scots would drink this straight from the still,” says Talisker expert Donald Colville. “But they realised that after storing it in wooden casks, it tasted a hell of a lot better. And that’s why we do the same today.”

The whisky is stored for up to 30 years in the casks, some of which are recycled from the Kentucky bourbon industry. Over time, the oak imparts a mellow, buttery flavour full of toffee and vanilla notes. “I have no idea how the bourbon cask tradition started,” admits Donald. “It was probably the idea of a tight-fisted Scot who thought he’d save some money by reusing old wood. But what I do know is that you end up with hugely varying flavours depending on the time you leave the whisky to mature.”

Abridged and adapted from Waitrose Magazine


The method of producing Talisker is very similar to that which I learnt about whilst visiting Laphroaig and Bowmore on Islay in summer 2011.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Following a brief hiatus over Christmas and the new year, it's a bumper digest of UK manufacturing stories this week.

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce records record sales thanks to Asian market (Guardian)

Welsh clothing label Howies is going independent once again (Howies)

Brands look to rebuild British textile industry (MEN)

Martin Parr's Black Country Stories opens on 20th January at The New Art Gallery Walsall (Multistory)

A lovely profile of expert joiner Dave Thompson (Spitalfields Life)

Inside the Efgeeco factory, Balham (Andrews of Arcadia Scrapbook)

Picture from Spitalfields Life


A nice video of the process behind the hardwearing luggage made in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

For new readers; I visited the Globe-Trotter factory last year and interviewed creative director Gary Bott.