Industrial Heritage

Saddleworth contains some of the best examples of English industrial villages. The poor soil, hills and climate have always made it virtually impossible for the local population to survive by agriculture or farming alone.

The cottage textile industry first emerged during the 17th century driven by domestic handlooms weaving individually tailored garments, the surplus of which were sold on. However, the advent of the Industrial Revolution brought large scale mechanisation and, despite resistance, the domestic handloom fell into decline as the water and steam driven mills allowed textile production to increase exponentially. This revolution subsequently introduced the need for the canal and railway in order to accomodate for the dramatic escalation of Saddleworth's trade.

The numbers employed in the mills rose dramatically as the 19th century progressed, with an increasingly wide range of procedures involved in the production of cloth. The mills grew ever larger; although with fluctuations of trade, times were never certain and the lifestyle of the workers still remained 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 demolished. However in recent years, it's almost as if the wheel has turned full circle, with Saddleworth now host to a variety of new home and small office based enterprises.

Nevertheless, the richness of Saddleworth’s industrial heritage provides plenty of material for both the curious amateur or the professional historian to investigate.
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