Herbert Needham

Worsted spinner and yarn manufacturer expert, Bert Needham was a Lecturer and Head of the
Textile Department at Bradford College from 1959 to 1981. In 1983 Bert was posthumously awarded The Textile Institute Service Medal for his services to the industry.

Bert NeedhamHerbert Needham, fondly known as Bert attended the ‘Tech’ as man and boy for over 40 years. Bert had a distinguished career in textiles, employed by Thomas Ambler and Sons (worsted spinners) until 1948.

A break in service came during the war years 1940 to 1946 during which time Bert was involved in the liberation of the Channel Islands.

In 1948 he joined Wolsey Limited being promoted to Technical Manager in spinning production. Joining the College in 1959 Bert soon had a significant influence on the teaching and learning of textiles.

He recognised the value of employer engagement, after all many students came to the ‘Tech’ on day release or in the evenings and relied on their employers for support. His contacts with the industry proved of immense value to the College, and with the help of Keith Wear and fellow Textile Trust Fund members secured gifts of ‘state of the art’ machinery to the department.

Bert was highly regarded in his specialist field for his research and development in yarn production and textile testing. He presented many research papers to the industry at home and abroad. He promoted the industry and its importance for the national economy and for 7 years demonstrated yarn and cloth production to members of the public at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.

Whilst serious about his vocation for textiles, Bert was known for having a sense of humour. He wrote “Let it be said of me, I was a Yorkshire man. I loved textiles, meat pies, fish and chips, Tiger sauce, Brass bands, Gilbert and Sullivan, the Messiah, Rugby football, cricket, crown green bowls and wore a flat cap.” Sadly shortly after retirement Bert passed away, unable to collect in person The Textile institute Service Medal, posthumously awarded by Sir James Hill in 1983.

Photograph supplied by Christine Thornton