A Rich History
As the name implies, Partridge of Redditch has its origins in Mount Pleasant, Redditch, Worcestershire. Both the town and the district were renowned for specialist metal work for generations, needle and hook making in particular.
It is not easy to establish when this started, but according to one likely theory, it started with the existence of a large monastery at Redditch. The monks were reputed to have been skilled artisans, and when Henry VIII dissolved the brotherhood the monks were taken in by leading Catholic families in the area, obviously putting their skills to use. From there, processing steel and specialized metal work were developed and refined.
In the early days needle making and hook making went hand in hand; the techniques developed for making needles could be applied in making hooks as well. Steel wire was drawn in Birmingham and then sent out to needle and hook producers in adjacent towns such as Studley, Alcester, Henley-in Arden and Redditch. In the middle of the nineteenth century Redditch seemed to establish itself as the main hook-producing centre. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the transition from pure handwork to industrial production made Redditch famous for excellent fish hooks throughout the world. In this period they actually dominated the world market.
The early history of Partridge is somewhat obscure. We know that it was started on the basis of existing hook manufacturing shortly after the turn of the century, but no one knows the exact year any longer. What we do know, however, is that it has been the only British sport hook manufacturer who has been able to survive and create a name for itself in the twentieth century. Partridge of Redditch bears its name from the founder Albert Partridge. He left the firm to his son Ted, who sold it to Alan Bramley in 1970 when none of his children were interested to take over the company.
Alan Bramley further developed the company, and in the 1970’s extended the production to include exclusive split cane rods as well as continuing to develop and improve hook production. Thanks to him, Partridge of Redditch has become the internationally acclaimed brand that we know today. Under the direction of Alan Bramley the company flourished with the bright young talent of the day being given the opportunity to create some of the most advanced hook patterns that the industry had ever seen and many of them, both patterns and fly fishermen, are still around giving pleasure and sharing their passion to today’s dynamic talent.
In 1996 the Norwegian hook manufacturer O. Mustad & Son bought Partridge of Redditch from the Bramley family. Under the direction of Mustad new levels of consistency and industrial production were introduced and a continuation of the innovative developments that had characterized the previous 20 years.
By 2009 the brand had lost its way under the stewardship of Mustad and had become little more than a repository of lost, forgotten and specialist patterns that were neither mainstream nor very popular. In 2009 Mustad sold Partridge to the British company FishingMatters Ltd who have set about the re- structuring of the brand and rationalization of the range to start a new phase of innovation that will ensure that Partridge of Redditch is a brand set to survive the next hundred years at the forefront of the hook business.