Our story began in Manchester in 1886 with a man called Fred. Fred had two things – a bright idea and a cracking beard. Fred had been working in a cotton mill, like many people in the city at the time, when he noticed that the cotton was being trundled around in baskets. It gave him the idea for a business; he would start importing the cane for the baskets from abroad. Fred Aldous Ltd was born out of that idea.

Fred Aldous Manchester 1950's

We began selling craft products when Fred the Second (Fred the First’s son) spotted that the city’s cotton industry was declining. Fred the Second decided to ramp up the handicrafts side of the business, this genius decision not only saved us but transformed us into what we are today. The fall of the cotton trade wasn’t the only obstacle we’ve had to overcome; we’ve also had to cope with two and a half fires, a flood, a demolition ball, scam artists, two world wars and the invention of television.

Fred Aldous 1900's

We’ve grown a fair bit since then, but we still do what Fred, aka Fred the First, did all those years ago – supply materials to people who make things. We started off with just three products (cane, willow and yeast) selling to the cotton traders and master brewers of Manchester. Now, we have two stores (in Manchester and Leeds), stock more than 25,000 products and sell to customers all over the world.

Inspiring new ideas and encouraging people are values that Fred the First instilled in the company when he began. We’ve flourished thanks to these simple ideals, and it’s why we are still a family run business after all these years. Five generations of the Aldous family have led us over the last century or so and each generation has had the same passion for craftsmanship.

We’ve been successful because we’ve always had the support of our lovely dedicated staff and our wonderful community of customers. For this, we thank you. Your relentless enthusiasm for our products and projects has fuelled creativity in thousands of people and made sure that we’re always growing and evolving. Our enthusiasm for creativity has meant that we’re always developing fresh ideas and new products and this is why we can provide the right tool or material for whatever project you might be working on. We just love people who have that urge to pick up a pencil, brush or needle and want to create. If you’re one of these people we salute you and we figure that, if we still want to be around for 130 more years, we need to keep encouraging people like you to try out new ways of making things.

The first 130 years have been a blast, and we reckon the next 130 will be even better!