Hardy Factory Tour
One of the highlights of our whirlwind trip was a personalized tour of the Hardy factory in Alnwick. The factory itself is unremarkable, but the passion and heritage of the brand can be felt the second you walk in the door. As with most things in our sport, the people make the difference, and the little village of Alnwick is full of people with connections to Hardy in one way or another. Inside the factory, artisans have been making fine fishing reels for decades, using specialized tools dating back to the turn of the century. As a result, many of the reels made in Alnwick can trace their roots back to the very first reels made by Hardys.
And while modern CNC machines have replaced lathes, drills, and files, for the most part, there are a few steps in creating classics that still require a skilled hand and eye. Walking through a finishing room, we watched as a reel maker filed the pillars on a Bougle, just like his predecessor would have done in 1906.
I think most people would be surprised to see how personal the creation of a classic Hardy reel is. For instance, every fly reel produced in Alnwick goes through strict quality control, performed by one young man. Through each step of the process, he checks to ensure every reel is perfect before moving on to the next and eventually to your favorite fly shop. I asked what happens if he needs a day off or gets sick? The answer is one of the reasons Hardy has remained such an iconic brand. Each artisan teaches the next generation of Hardy reel makers, ensuring that tradition and passion remain part of every reel that leaves the factory.
To be clear, Hardy only makes re-released versions of classic reels and one modern large arbor saltwater reel in Alnwick. The remainder of the reel lineup and their rod production is done off-shore to Hardy's high standards. Yet, one can hope that in bringing their new factory online in 2023, Hardy will expand their Made in England offerings, setting the stage for another 150 years of innovation and timeless design.