Fred Aldous Ltd
The Fred Aldous flagship and HQ is based right in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria train stations and Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens.
Over three floors we have 25,000 art, craft and design products, alongside contemporary stationery, design-led gifts and homeware. But, you will find that we are more than just a great place to shop! On our first floor, you will find two vintage analogue photo booths; one colour and one black and white.
Our story began in Manchester in 1886 with a man called Fred. Fred had two things – a bright idea and a cracking beard. He 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. This gave him the idea for a business – he wanted to start importing the cane for the baskets from abroad. We, Fred Aldous Ltd, were born out of that idea.
We’ve grown a fair bit over the last 130 years 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 stock more than 25,000 products and sell to customers all over the world.
Don’t go thinking we’ve had an easy ride though. We began selling craft products when Fred the Second (Fred the First’s son) spotted that the city’s cotton industry was declining. He decided to ramp up the handicrafts side of the business and 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 during the last 130 years. 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 always been a success because we’ve always had the support of our lovely dedicated staff, some of whom have been with us for almost 40 years (heads up Pauline), and our wonderful community of customers (you know who you are). For this we thank you. Your relentless enthusiasm for our products and projects has fuelled creativity in thousands of people and made sure that we’re constantly growing and evolving.
Inspiring new ideas and encouraging people are values that Fred the First instilled in the company when we began. We’ve flourished thanks to these simple ideals and we’re pretty sure that’s why we’re still a family run business after all these years. Five generations of the Aldous family have lead us over the last century or so and each generation has had the same passion for craftsmanship. We just love those people who have that urge to pick up a pencil, brush or needle and want to create. If you’re one of these people we salute you. And we figure that if we still want to be around in another 130 years we need to keep encouraging people like you to try out new ways of making things.