Following a spike in interest (consequence of some welcome coverage from Another Something) last week I felt it timely to provide a quick round-up of the factories I have visited to date. As follows:
1. Stevenage Knitting Company : Stevenage, Hertfordshire
My first factory visit, in January 2011, was to the now defunct Stevenage Knitting Company where I met owner Paul Pinkstone. Sadly, the factory had just closed so was devoid of life. However, Mr Pinkstone was very generous with his time and showed me how various knitting machines worked as well as telling me about the illustrious history of his company.
2. Sunspel : Long Eaton, Derbyshire
Next up was an early Springtime trip to Long Eaton in Derbyshire to meet Nicholas Brooke, co-owner of classic underwear brand Sunspel. Over the course of a couple of hours Mr Brooke showed me the company's archive and explained the family ties that exist in the current management.
3. Globe-Trotter : Broxbourne, Hertfordshire
In March of 2011 I also ventured to Broxbourne in Hertfordshire to meet Gary Bott, creative director of Globe-Trotter. Mr Bott kindly told me about the luggage company's long history in detail and our conversation touched on what British manufacturing stands for today, as well as the importance of Japan. We also spent time on the factory floor, with Mr Bott showing me all of the processes that go in to the creation of a Globe-Trotter suitcase. I also had a quick chat with David, the factory manager.
4. Brompton : Brentford, London
Another March 2011 visit saw me head to West London for a swift tour of the Brompton folding bicycle factory. Here I had the good fortune to meet Alan, the man responsible for quality control.
5. Smith & Pepper : Hockley, Birmingham
A bit of a cheat's M&I visit in that this factory is now a museum. However, the guide gave a good overview of the working processes and history of this fascinating business at the heart of jewellery production in the West Midlands.
6. Abbeyhorn : Holme, Cumbria
In late August of 2011 I visited Abbeyhorn, a company with over 250 years of history. It was a truly informative visit, made so by Graham who has been working at the horn product makers since 1974.
7. Vitsoe : Camden, London
My final visit of 2011 was to Vitsoe, most famous for being the producers of Dieter Rams' 606 shelving system. Here it was the attention to detail that impressed most of all.
8. Alfred Dunhill : Walthamstow, London
My most recent visit was to Alfred Dunhill in East London. I was accompanied by photographer Robin Mellor who did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the craftsmen and women who work on the leather goods there. The visit is available in three posts: the raw materials store, the master craftsman and the processes.
A map showing the locations of the factories I have visited is here (it also shows a couple of distilleries I visited out of season)