The bound volumes of the Illustrated London News that can often be seen propping up the projector at the society's monthly meetings, are a mine of information. While working my way through the tightly-packed columns of advertisements recently, I spotted a familiar name and address. The advertisement, which appeared in the edition dated Saturday, February 2, 1856, and subsequent editions, read as follows:
SHRIMPTON & HOOPER'S GRADUATED GROOVELESS NEEDLES.
"Lieut.-Col. Phipps has received the commands of His Royal Highness the Prince Albert to thank Messrs. Shrimpton and Hooper for the very curious specimens of the perfection to which has been brought the art of making the eyes of needles.- Buckingham Palace, July 18, 1851." On the 5th May, 1854, Messrs Shrimpton and Hooper obtained an Injunction from his Honour the Master of the Rolls against a Manufacturer at Redditch for imitating the Labels of their highly-approved Needles.
None but First-class Goods made by SHRIMPTON and HOOPER.
Established more than a Century.
Albion Works, Studley; and 12, King's square, London.
All of this was packed into a space no more than an inch deep. It conveys a great deal of interest to the local historian, although some of its information has to be carefully considered. The name Shrimpton is, of course, synonymous with needle-making along the Arrow valley, but when this advertisement appeared the name could not have been known in the area for more than around forty years at the most. If the partnership had existed for "more than a Century" it must have begun elsewhere.
The Shrimptons were among the many needle-making families who arrived here from Long Crendon during the first half of the 19th century. They had been forced to leave their home village because their trade had been badly hit by the needles mass-produced by the mills along the Arrow. In Long Crendon, where needle-making had been established much earlier than in our district, it was still a cottage industry producing needles in low volumes.
According to Joyce Donald in her Long Crendon: A Short History Part 1 (Long Crendon 1971), the Shrimptons dominated this Buckinghamshire village during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The statistics speak for themselves: between 1745 and 1835 the Shrimptons produced no fewer than 204 children!
The migration was a steady process; the first workers to leave Long Crendon for these parts did so in 1810, the last more than 30 years later. The claim to nave been in business for over a century was, in all probability, that of Mr Shrimpton and his forbears alone. No trace can be found of the name Hooper among those who left Long Crendon and it would seem more likely that he was a local man.
The address at Studley (good enough not warrant the county name in those days!) is the tall, narrow building on the south side of the Duke of Marlborough along Alcester Road. Earlier this century it was William Vale's needle factory and more recently Turton & Southworth's works. Unti1 just about a year ago it still looked like it had done so since it was first built - warm red brickwork and those quite elegant cast-iron window frames that were characteristic of many of the early 19th century industrial buildings hereabouts. Now the factory's cheerful visage has disappeared beneath a coating of dull white rendering, and the window frames have given way to modern replacements totally out of key with the proportions of the building.
And what was once an honest-to-goodness "Works" now rejoices in the title: "The Albion Business Centre". It is interesting to note some of the other names to be found advertising in the Illustrated London News 141 years ago. Among them are many that are still known to us today: Schweppe's (Malvern water), Price's (candles), Chubb's (locks), water colour manufacturers Reeves & Son and George Rowney & Co., Carter's (seeds), Keiller's (Dundee marmalade) and Robinson of barley water fame. Even the famous furniture emporium of Messrs Heal & Son was located - then as now - in Tottenham Court Road.
Strange Thame- Needlemakers and Long Crendon
Image of Long Crendon Village
Buckinghamshire Towns & Villages Photo Album
18th Century list of Long Crendon Citizens
Long Crendon - description of the village
Spring 1997 Index