Needler, Frederick

Hull sweet and chocolate manufacturer, born at Arnold, north of Hull, to a Holderness farming family that used the surname Needley until 1865. His father having died of typhoid, Federick Needler left school in 1878 to work in a tea and coffee warehouse, and then at 18 for Edward Buckton, owner of a small confectionery business. On this business getting into financial difficulty in 1886, Needler purchased the equipment for £100 with money provided by his mother, and began his own business. Initially making boiled sweets, the confectionery range was expanded and the business also moved into wholesaling, selling other manufacturers' confectionery. In 1906 a purpose-built factory was opened in Sculcoates Lane.

By 1921, employing 1,100 workers, it was one of the largest firms in the town A benevolent employer, Needler offered his workers welfare and recreational facilities, a profit sharing scheme and from 1922 a pension scheme for men. The Depression and then wartime sweet rationing led to falling profits. From visiting the USA Needler realised that increased productivity would only be achieved by mechanisation.

Frederick Needler was an active member of Stepney MNC / UM, in Hull, where he was a Sunday School teacher. A Sabbatarian opposed to Sunday trading, he also tithed a tenth of his income to charity. A close friend of T.R.Ferens. Founder of University College, Hull, he donated a residential college, Needler Hall, to the University.

On Frederick's death in 1932, his son Arthur Percival Needler took over the business and on his own retirement in 1970, was succeeded by his son, Percival Needler. Meanwhile in 1958 the business had become a public company and on Percival Needler's retirement in 1987 it was sold.

  • Geoffrey E. Milburn, 'Piety, Profit and Paternalism', in WHS Proceedings, vol. 44 (1983-84)
  • Maurice Baren, How it all began in Yorkshire (Skipton, 1987)


Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person
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