I. THE VALES OF WORCESTER AND EVESHAM
 WORCESTERSHIRE is a rich and pleasant county,
consisting of a broad valley bordered by hills on each
side. On the east, are the Glent, and the Lickey Hills;
on the west, the Abberley Hills and the Malvern Hills.
These last would be one range, running from north to
south, but that they are parted by the pretty valley of
the Teme, a river bordered by hop-gardens and orchards.
Apple orchards and pear orchards, hop-gardens and
golden corn-fields—look from any of the hills over
Worcester county, and these are what you see; there is
scarcely a bit of waste common anywhere. All that is
left of the forest which once covered the county is a
pleasant clump of trees here and there, and a single
bit of forest land on the Salop border.
But what is that deep green dip in the middle of the
broad valley, running right through the county from
north to south—surely that is water gleaming at the
bottom? That is the Vale of Worcester, which is only
about a mile across, and the gleaming water is no other
than Queen Severn herself, which comes out of Salop to
take her gentle course through the middle of this
shire. The deep green of the flowery meads tells of
river floods, and of dressings of river mud.
In the south-east of the county, you may trace such
another deep green vale; not a straight vale, this
 time, but in and out, round about, it goes, here and
there flanked by hills and woods. That is the beautiful
Vale of Evesham, the valley of the winding Avon, the
Warwickshire Avon which joins the Severn at Tewkesbury
on the Gloucester border.
To Evesham Vale belongs the end of the story begun on
the heights of Lewes. Henry III., taken prisoner in the
battle of Lewes, was confined by the barons in
Worcester Castle. His son Edward contrived to escape
from the soldiers who had charge of him, and raised an
army, with which he marched to Worcester to liberate
Simon Montfort and the barons' army met him in Evesham
Vale, and a great battle followed. The barons placed
the king, vizor down, in front, hoping he would be
killed by his own friends; but he cried out, "I am
Henry of Winchester, kill not your king!" The prince
heard, and dashed into the thick of the fight to save
his father; the king was rescued, and the barons' army
defeated; the noble de Montfort and his son both fell
on the field.
Evesham, with its houses of wood, is a pleasant town in
the beautiful vale; so, also, is Pershore. Pearshore it
should be called, for it got its name in Saxon days
from the pear orchards about it.
On the other side of the Severn, and just under the
Malvern Hills, is Great Malvern, the waters of whose
wells—Holy Well and St. Ann's Well—are good in certain
Let us make our way back to the bank of the Severn, and
watch the barges going down the river. Worcester is on
the opposite bank, but we may see the grand old
cathedral and the red houses of its cheerful streets.
 See, there is a barge from the city piled high with
hop-pockets. Hops from all the country round are sold
at Worcester, or at Stourport, higher up the Severn.
There are barges laden with corn-sacks; with apples;
with pears; with casks of perry or cider made from
apples and pears; with sacks of wool. Yonder is a barge
with a delicate freight—the beautiful porcelain made in
Worcester, about which we must hear more. The gloves,
which employ most of the city work-people, being small
and light, are sent away by rail.
There are barges laden with iron things, which come
from the north of this county, which is near the Black
Country, from Stourbridge or Stourport, on the little
river Stour, which there joins the Severn. The carpets
of Kidderminster, which is also on the Stour, are
generally sent away by rail. There, again, are our old
friends the salt barges. Where do they come from? From
Droitwich, which is connected with the Severn by a
canal, and where there are brine-springs rising from
the deep underground salt-bed. Droitwich is a busy,
smoky place, where many thousand tons of salt are
prepared and sent down the Severn every year; the
people of Droitwich have been busy thus, preparing
salt, for centuries.
All these barges—many of which, by the way, you are not
likely to see at one time—are making their way to
Bristol, the great port of the Severn, from which the
goods will be sent over sea, or to ports on our own
coast. The Severn carries barges and larger vessels all
through the county; so does the Avon; and there are
canals to enable boats to get to these rivers from
places at a distance.
The old cathedral city of Worcester stands in the midst
of the fertile Severn Valley. It is a busy town
 on market days, for the hops of the district are
brought here for sale. The city has manufactures, also,
of gloves, and of the beautiful Worcester china.
Our English porcelain is made at the Staffordshire
potteries, at Derby, and some other places. That of
Worcester has long been noted for its great beauty.
II. HOW NEEDLES ARE MADE
IT is a curious thing that nearly all the needles used
in England and the colonies, as well as in a great part
of Europe, are made in an out-of-the-way village in a
The pretty village of Redditch, at the foot of the
eastern hills, has about a dozen factories, or mills,
where, perhaps, seven or eight thousand persons, men,
women, and children, are employed in needle-making. The
mills are large buildings, with long rows of windows,
like other factories, and with steam-engines to turn
the wheels on which the needles are ground. But most of
the processes are performed by hand, some of them at
the cottages of the needle-makers. Some thirty
different things, by thirty different persons, are
done to each needle before it is ready for use; and it
is marvellous how quick each person is in doing the
particular bit of work he is accustomed to do.
Steel wire, of the proper size for needles, is sent
from Sheffield to Redditch. A workman takes up about a
hundred wires, and, with a strong pair of shears, cuts
them into pieces just long enough to make two needles.
These are made red-hot in a furnace,
 and then rolled over and over with a sort of steel
rolling-pin until they are quite straight.
Then the wires go to the pointer, who grinds each end
to a sharp point. The pointing-room has many small
grindstones, all turning round at a wonderful rate, two
thousand times a minute! The grinder sits on a stool,
or "horse," and bends over the stone. Over his mouth
he wraps a large handkerchief, and as he can do his
work nearly as well in the dark as in the light, he is
sometimes only to be seen by the bright cone of sparks
which come from the steel he is grinding. His face
looks pale, and we know he is doing work which will
soon kill him. The sparks and the dust from the steel
and the grindstone bring on a disease called "grinders'
asthma." The grinders get high wages and do but little
work, because their calling is so dangerous, though
recent inventions have lessened the danger somewhat.
The pointer takes fifty or a hundred needle wires in
his hand at once, and twirls them round against the
revolving stone. So rapid are his movements that he can
point ten thousand wires in an hour.
The next thing is to pierce two holes through each
wire—the eyes of the two needles. The wires are laid,
one by one, under a heavy stone stamping-machine with a
little raised die upon it, the size of a needle's eye,
which makes a groove where the eye should be. The
workman works his machine with his foot, and places the
needle-wire with his hand. Though each has to be done
separately, he stamps eight thousand needles in an
Then a boy pierces the eye through, and another boy
runs wires through the two holes, so that there is a
row of needles on each wire, something like a comb.
 The lengths are broken between the two wires, and
instead of double, there are single needles.
Next, women and girls straighten them once more with
many taps from little hammers. The needles are drilled,
tempered, polished; and more is done to them than we
have time to describe before they are sorted into
packets for sale.