Industrial Heritage

Saddleworth 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.

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