In the 1960's, Ken Middleton was an engineer and fully trained toolmaker at the famous Rolls Royce Aerospace plant in Derby. A keen match fisherman with Derby Railway, Ken found that the floats on the market during this era were simply not good enough for his standard of match fishing. This inspired him to create a range of float models that were suitable for his own personal use.
Ken soon realised there was a commercial demand for his floats when, in 1968, he sold 300 pieces to Herbert Blounts shop in Derby - which was then the city's main match shop. Within a short amount of time, other shops were calling Ken to ask if they could buy his range of floats. Early customers included Tizlys of Nottingham and Austin Clissett in Birmingham.
Middy was born.
Ken would make the floats in his council house with the help of his wife, Gwen. His range comprised just twelve different float patterns, but they were of such high standard that they were quickly earning a reputation amongst anglers throughout the country. Demand grew so high that, in 1971, the husband and wife team had to move production away from their house and into a modest factory, on Albert Street in Ilkeston.
As more and more shops began stocking Ken's floats, production was moved again
in 1975, into a necessarily bigger factory in Borrowash. By the end of the
decade, Middy not only required about 25 people to operate the factory, but was
now also offering approximately 125 different float patterns.
However, the real catalyst for Middy's expansion came when Ken's son - David
Middleton - joined the company in 1980. David took control of product design
and marketing. He decided to heavily increase the product range and, by the
late 80's, Middy was offering high class catapults, swim feeders, and various
accessories, as part of a range that now included over 1000 products.
The 90's saw Middy grow even more and indeed establish itself internationally - leading to a corporation change of name from then 'Middy Floats' to become 'Middy International'. David's progressive approach led to the Middy being the first ever company to introduce swivel adaptors, teflon-impregnated hooks, push-button rod rests, and hair systems on commercial hooks. Production demands became so high that, in 1996, the company moved to brand new purpose-built 15,000 sq ft premises in Heanor.
Since then, the range has expanded more and more, with Middy now offering
almost every type of match tackle product you could think of. David Middleton
is still at the helm to this day and the company is still a family-owned
operation; with his brother Pete controlling production, and their sons also working
in the business. Not many companies can say they have survived two
foot-and-mouth outbreaks, been around when Manchester United won their first
European Cup and grown into an international business supplying over twenty
countries worldwide, while remaining totally independently family owned.
With a philosophy that's all about creating innovative products to help anglers catch more, the slogan 'Forward-thinking match tackle' was adopted in the noughties. The company has created a huge number of unique and patented products, such as the Shotgun feeder, Grip-Flex pots and Quartix feeder rods. These are the first rods in the world to feature quiver tips that are hollow at their base yet spliced with carbon or glass at the top, resulting in a genuine game-changer of a feeder rod.
Middy is now one of Europe's best recognised and most respected match brands… and it all started with just twelve homemade floats.