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FEATURE

Brooks and mortar Rebecca Morley takes a tour of the Brooks factory in Smethwick to find out about the brand’s heritage and what goes into making its famous saddles

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rooks England has a rich heritage of making premium saddles – one that dates back to the 19th century. JB Brook filed his first saddle patent back in 1882, and JB Brooks & Co registered as a public limited company is 1896. It has been in its current factory, based in Smethwick, since 1962, making its saddles with incredible skills and precision alongside years of experience. The 27,000 square feet factory has approximately 140 machines in total, creating a loud and busy environment. Some of the machines date back to the early 1950s, in particular the metal-working machines that bend saddle rails and create springs. Walking around, I saw some saddle moulds that displayed the dates they had been made – one was April 1956 and another 1961.

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Hamish Bingley, brand manager from Brooks, explains why Brooks still uses slightly older machinery: “This is a testament to the high-quality machinery that is used to produce the finest saddles. In keeping with the brand’s ethos of products being built to last many years, so too are some of the machines that make them! Why replace them if they’re still working well?” Brooks’ original factory was in central Birmingham, part of the Brooks family for two generations, then moved to the present Smethwick site in 1962 once sold by the second generation of the Brooks family. In terms of recent growth, the business has more than doubled in size since being acquired by Selle Royal in July 2002.

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