contains some of the best examples of English industrial villages.
The poor soil, hills and climate always made it virtually impossible
for the population to live by agriculture or farming alone.
The cottage textile industry existed here from the 17th century
onwards. However, the advent of the Industrial Revolution brought
mechanisation and, despite resistance, the handloom weaving and
spinning in individual homes fell into decline as the water and
steam driven mills grew in importance. This era also saw the building
of the canal and railway.
The numbers employed in the mills rose dramatically as the 19th
century progressed with an increasingly wide range of processes
involved in the production of cloth. The mills grew ever larger;
although with fluctuations of trade times were never certain and
the condition of the workers was still one of hardship.
As the 20th century progressed, the textile industry declined rapidly
from its position of dominance and the majority of the mills are
long since closed or gone. As the new millennium dawns it seems
as if the wheel has turned full circle, with Saddleworth now host
to a variety of new home, or small office based, enterprises.
But the richness of Saddleworth’s industrial heritage provides plenty
of material for both the interested amateur or the professional
historian to investigate.