Hobkirk Sewing Machines has embarked on a year of celebrations, marking 120 years since it began trading from a shop in Blackburn in Lancashire.

It has created special artwork to highlight the landmark anniversary which has been put up around its current Blackburn premises in Darwen Street and will be seen in its communications throughout 2023.

The company will be creating a large-format piece at next month’s Printwear & Promotion Live!, measuring 0.8 metres by 0.5 metres featuring the 120th-anniversary branding. It is also planning a celebration for staff later this year.

As part of a 16-strong team, managing director Mark Hobkirk, who is the fourth generation at the helm, runs the business with wife Kathy Hobkirk, who is company secretary, and co-director Marcus Gannon.

Talking about Hobkirk Sewing Machines’ longevity, Mark said: “We have always had a core belief in being as professional as we can, understanding and looking after customers and being an expert in our field.

“We have invested in having youth on our team, helping us to stay at the forefront of technology.”

Hobkirk Sewing Machines

Pictured: Hobkirk Sewing Machines’ artwork to mark its 120th anniversary

Founded in 1903 by William Hobkirk, Hobkirk Sewing Machines began trading from shop premises on Salford in Blackburn. William later welcomed his son Edgar and then in the 1960s his grandson Peter Hobkirk joined.

During the 1960s it invested in another shop, 126 Darwen Street at the other side of town and over the following 30 years it bought five more shops in the same row and now occupies 118-130 Darwen Street and the car park to the rear of the premises.

The domestic business grew considerably in the 1970s and 1980s, and Peter expanded the business accordingly, opening shops in Preston, Blackpool, Burnley, Accrington, Bury and Rochdale.

Mark Hobkirk

Pictured: Mark Hobkirk, managing director of Hobkirk Sewing Machines

The 1980s also saw the introduction of industrial machines so the business built extensions to the rear of the premises on Darwen Street to allow for industrial workshops, showrooms and warehousing.

Mark Hobkirk joined in 1993, making 2023 the 30th anniversary of him arriving at the family business. At that time, the company also added commercial embroidery machines to its portfolio of products, followed by a fabric department housing over 2,000 fabric designs.

Its domestic department supplies a full range of Brother, Janome, Juki and Babylock home sewing machines, backed up by a full range of accessories, haberdashery, threads and related products plus in-house technical engineers with over 40 years’ experience.

Hobkirk Sewing Machines

Pictured: The entrance to Hobkirk Sewing Machines’ industrial showroom

For supplying sewing factories, the company has trading agreements for the UK with Seiko in Japan, Zoje industrial sewing machines and Comel pressing equipment in Italy, all backed up by its in-house parts department plus a team of six engineers.

It also supplies other leading makes including Brother, Juki, Global, Maier, Strobel and Yamato. Its cutting department supplies hand, straight knife, tape and lay end cutters.

The embroidery division has its own dedicated showroom and supplies a comprehensive range of single and multi-head embroidery machines from manufacturers Ricoma and Brother, supported by factory trained technicians.

The business now occupies 930 sq m (10,000 sq ft) premises spanning 45 rooms, including a sewing machine museum with over 200 antiques.


Peter Hobkirk

Pictured: Peter Hobkirk in Hobkirk Sewing Machines’ museum