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Cotton Industry

Exhibition Review: Saddleworth Museum

Saddleworth is an area of farms and villages on the western edge of the Pennines, about halfway between Manchester and Huddersfield, with some spectacular scenery. Traditionally part of Yorkshire, it has, since the local government reorganisation of 1974, been part of the Borough of Oldham (which is itself within Greater Manchester). This annoys some of the residents, who maintain it is still in its previous county and have set up the Saddleworth White Rose Society (as if it matters in the slightest). The area is often described as ‘a Yorkshire community on the Lancashire side of the Pennines’.

Ruined By Riches

"The extraordinary wrongness of our present industrial system is shown once more by the outcry at the bumper crop of American raw cotton. One would think that a record crop of this kind would be greeted with delight by the user as well as by the ultimate consumer as a guarantee of abundant raw material, low prices and correspondingly brisk expanding trade. But it appears that in the world constituted as it now is, abundance of raw cotton is a positive calamity. Stated coldly like that, the only possible inference from the assertion is that the world is quite mad. The facts are, we believe, that in value the export of British cotton to India, for instance, is now greater than in 1913, but the volume is from various causes very greatly less the volume exported in 1913. This state of things is al very well for the banker and the financier; it is ruin to the unfortunate operative who is on permanent short time; because to him, the volume manufactured is everything.

Mancunian Monument

The traditional music-hall vision of Manchester, as a perpetually rainy city where the skyline is dominated by cotton mill chimneys and heavy neo-gothic architecture, is becoming less true as the larger mills of Ancoats are one by one being demolished. The city centre, however, retains its nineteenth century aspect, as the buildings raised to house the financial side of the cotton trade are now occupied by banks and estate agents. One exception to this, a building which keeps to its original use, is the Town Hall in Albert Square, a huge gothic edifice constructed primarily to house the machinery of local government but also as a monument to Mancunian capitalism's wealth and power.

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