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.
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.
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.