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Although he had little to do with the town’s cultural activities, the town council, or any of the voluntary organisations, John Needham was the man responsible for the name of Stockport appearing in streets, roads and avenues in most countries in the world.


John Needham, whose ancestors came from Derbyshire, was born in Millgate Hall, Stockport, which was for years the home of the Lord of the Manor of Stockport. He set up business as an iron founder in 1834 concentrating in the field of municipal work in the United Kingdom.


His products were mainly gulley grids and manhole covers, and there is hardly a place in the country where the name Needham, Stockport, is not moulded into the local grids or manhole covers.


His first foundry was in Millgate, and, since 1834, thousands of Stockport men have been employed by the firm.

When the firm moved to Carrington Road, in 1931, the business began to expand into the export market, and since then most countries in the world have “Needham, Stockport, England” written into their roads, streets and avenues.


The market has expanded, too, with a greater variety of products with street direction signs, and there are few motorways in this country which do not have signs on which the name Needham, Stockport, does not appear.


John Needham was too busy concentrating on the building up of his business to take part in the towns activities, but he was a devout churchman, worshipping with his family at Stockport Parish Church, where his grandson, Mr H. Norman. O. Needham, the firm’s present managing director, is a member of the parochial church council.


John Needham died in 1897, at the age of 70.

Text from Stockport Heritage Library

We visited Stockport Heritage Library to do some research into Needhams Foundry and Brinnington and to gather images and text

for the lamppost pieces that form part

of the trail.

How is it Messers. Neeedhams’ goods go practically everywhere? The answer is a very simple one. They have made a lifelong study in the various designs of ironwork required for sanitary work. They make Manholes with heavy lids, light lids, medium lids, ventilated, hinged or lift-out lids; Manholes round, square, oval or any other shape, and to suit all roads. The same applies to Lampeyes , and as for grids their designs are legion.


Airtight Inspection Covers have received equal attention. All sizes and shapes are made from 5” x 5” to 48” x 36”. With single and double seal, for grease and sand joints, and those prepared for tiles or woodblocks.


By way of variety the firm also supply loose and fitted castings to water, gas and electrical undertaking, railways and tramways.


Since 1834 they have been providing municipal ironwork, a range that now includes unbreakable steel galley grids, heavy duty manholes covers, fire hydrant boxes, road traffic signs and as a new development, road signs with Scotchlite reflection. Exports are sent to all parts of the world. 


Needhams advert 1965 Stockport Heritage Library


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