Some of Walsall’s best-known brands thrived under his leadership.

Michael Goold, a leading figure in the saddlery and leather goods industry, has died after a short illness. He was 95. 

Michael Goold presented a saddle and bridle to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth when she visited Walsall in 1977.

Born in Walsall in 1928, Michael was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, where in later years he was to become a Governor. 

He joined the Walsall based family business, W.A. Goold, taking over the running of the firm in 1951 following his father’s death.

Under Michael’s leadership, the W.A. Goold Group expanded by acquisition to encompass a range of leather related companies.  The mainstay of this was its own W.A. Goold, manufacturer of fine leather goods. 

There was also Wayfarer Luggage, while the Goold Group held the UK distribution for the world-renowned Speidel watch bands and associated products imported from the United States.

Major force in the equestrian industry

The Goold Group’s involvement in the saddlery industry began in 1973, when Michael purchased what was then a small bridle-making company in Walsall - E Jeffries & Sons Ltd.  

Michael installed a new team at the Mountrath Street premises and over the next few years, by their own efforts and with Michael’s unfailing support, E Jeffries expanded to become a major force in the equestrian industry in the UK and around the world. 

Under his guidance and influence, the company achieved further growth through the acquisition of Eldonian, Falcon Saddles and Charles Mountfort. All the Walsall companies were eventually operated and managed from substantial headquarters in George Street.

In 1993, Michael acquired Brady Brothers Ltd, a world-famous shooting and fishing bag manufacturing company, based in Halesowen.  Brady was absorbed into the Jeffries operation enabling it to expand into the complementary shooting and fishing industry, and from there into the world of fashion accessories. Michael took a very keen interest in these significant developments. 

Positions of influence

Michael held positions of influence in various institutions and bodies connected with the leather goods and saddlery industries. 

For a time, he was President of the British Leathergoods Manufacturers’ Association and later became President of The British Jewellery and Giftware Federation.

He had a major involvement with Trade Promotion Services who were responsible for organising the International Spring Fair at the NEC, Birmingham which had the distinction in 1976 of being the first event to be held there.

Working for others

One of Michael’s principal interests was the Worshipful Company of Saddlers. He was appointed to the Livery in 1980 and became Master of the Company in 1990 to 1991. He was the first representative from the saddlery industry in Walsall to become Master. 

He carried out many duties for the Saddlers’ Company including playing an active role in working with Riding for the Disabled where he was National Treasurer. 

Michael Goold was an extremely influential figure in the UK leather goods and saddlery industry for over 60 years and worked tirelessly to grow it and improve it.  

He finally retired in 2012, when his son Dominic took over the running of the company.

Michael is survived by his wife, Madeleine, his two sons, Alexander and Dominic, and their families. He will be remembered by many with respect and affection and be very sadly missed.

Michael Goold’s funeral is tomorrow (21 December) at 12 noon, at St John the Baptist Church, Hagley, DY9 9LG. 

  • With thanks to Mike Williams.