Newly reopened, after three years’ closure, Lancashire County Council must be very proud of Queen Street Mill Textile Museum. Thank you to Kath and Rosemary for sending in this postcard and telling Geography Cat all about it.
By 1860, Lancashire’s 2650 cotton mills employed nearly half a million people, and were producing half of the world’s cotton textiles. At peak production in 1912, British cotton mills were producing 8 billion yards of cloth and exporting it worldwide.
A number of factors brought about the decline of the industry in this country, but especially the First World War, and the collapse of British Colonialism. However, the geography of Britain today stands in the footprints of yesterday. The decline of the cotton industry in the North West led to huge unemployment in the region, and to thousands of brownfield sites. The towns that grew around the factories, and the communities that grew around the noise and dust, owe their existence to places like the Queen Street Mill.
Why did the cotton industry grow here?
Everything that was needed to spin and weave cotton fibre and cloth, was there, in Lancashire, all in one place, except for the cotton itself:
The north west is the wettest area of England with relatively high precipitation all year round. This is because of relief rainfall caused by moist air from the Atlantic being driven over the Lancashire hills by the prevailing south westerly winds. The hills and the rain combine to provide the fast flowing streams that water powered mills needed. And when water power was superseded by steam power the water, and the coal fields, were already there. The North West was already an area of spinning and weaving wool, before cotton. Therefore there were skilled workers in the area. The port of Liverpool is close by and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened in 1830. This facilitated the transportation of raw cotton and finished goods along with the pre-existing canal network.
Geography Cat contacted Queen Street Mill enquiry office and thanks them for their help in answering some of his questions. You can find out more, including opening hours by clicking here. Thank you again to Kath & Rosemary for drawing this fascinating location to Geography Cat’s attention.