Vintage fly fishing flies catalog, Milward’s Tackle, England, Hand-Tied Flies. Condition is Used, Flies Tied in the Late 19th or early 20th Century (from what I have been able to learn in past research).
The earliest reference to the Milward family in connection with needle making is a James Milward who was a needle maker on Fish Hill in 1676. Symon Milward created the company of Henry Milward & Sons aka Milward's Needles (Milward's) in 1730 at the age of 40, in Redditch, United Kingdom. It was however, his son Henry who takes credit for the foundation of the company as the company was registered in his name during the first year of his birth.[see Redditch Museum Family tree] From the first half of the 18th century, the name of Henry Milward and Sons became well known as the makers of good quality needles.
At one point they were the largest manufacturer of its type in the world, producing knitting needles, surgical needles, and fishing tackle, from a number of factories both in the UK and globally, such as Murcia, Spain.Knitting and surgical needles
The manufacture of needles was originally a cottage industry. During the Industrial Revolution the industry prospered and became mechanised. By the late 1800s the company was the largest manufacturer in the whole district.
Redditch became the hub of the needle industry in the UK, with trade directories showing that in the Redditch area in 1868/9 there were 117 firms listed as manufacturers in various aspects of needle and fish tackle trades. Small needle businesses amalgamated, often through inter-marriage between the leading needle makers of Redditch. Henry Milward and sons amalgamated with John James, W. Avery & Son, Wm. Bartleet, and thus the "Milward empire" grew.
William Hall of Studley amalgamated with Thos. Harper, Samuel Thomas, H. Wilkes and William Vale among others and formed a group of needle makers known as Amalgamated Needles & Fish Hooks. This resulted in Milwards and the aforementioned group being the 2 largest needle makers in the district.
In 1912 John James and Sons merged into Henry Milward and sons and a new board was announced. Members of the board consisted of C.B James as chairman and C.F Milward as deputy chairman, H.T Milward, A.D Bartleet and C.E James.
In 1930 two of the great needlemaker giants Milward's of Redditch and Hall's of Studley joined forces under a single holding company, Amalgamated Needles and Fish Hooks Limited, who formed in 1932 a separate manufacturing organisation called The English Needle and Fishing Tackle Co. Ltd (ENTACO).
However Milward's needles continued in Redditch until the 1950s, there were satellite factories setup during World War II in Evesham, Bewdley, Kidderminster and Moreton-in-Marsh. The basic needle plant was dispersed between Studley and Redditch during the war and in 1952 Arrow Works was officially opened and were still producing some brands of Milward's needles as were first made and marketed under the name of Henry Milward & Sons.
The years of greatest growth both in factory growth and world sales were at the end of the 19th century when the fortunes of the company were in the hands of Charles Frederick and Henry Tomson.Fishing tackle
Colonel Henry Milward was a fervent fly angler who decided to mix business with pleasure when he created Milward’s Fishing Tackle Company as part of his centuries-old needle-factory. A dozen workers left needle- and syringe-making to become experts in hooks, flies, devons, spoons and split-cane rods. This remarkable adventure lasted until 1965, when Milward died.
Milward, alongside Allcock, Partridge, Wilkins, Lee, Martinez & Bird and J.W. Young was just one of many fishing tackle manufacturers located in Redditch, just south of Birmingham