Lancashire Cotton Operatives and Work, 1900-1950: A Social History of Lancashire Cotton Operatives in the Twentieth Century
The cotton industry was one of the major motors that powered Britain's industrial development from the mid-eighteenth century, contributing in no small way to the revolution that was to transform Europe over the next hundred years. The combination of technological developments, colonial exploits and social transformation that all came together in the Lancashire cotton industry provided a perfect example of how the new world would function, its priorities and its ambitions. Into this fast moving and fluid situation, were thrust the men, women and children who formed the vast pool of labour necessary to keep the spindles and looms running. It is their experiences above all, that illuminates the history of the cotton industry, and how it came to change the face of Britain through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this study, Alan Fowler takes an in-depth look at the Lancashire cotton industry through the prism of its workers, their families and organisations. He argues that by 1850 the triumph of the factory system was complete, and the factory operative a mainstay of a transformed society based on a new economic order. With this increasingly important role in the new economy came opportunities, which cotton workers were not slow to grasp. Crucial to the history of the Lancashire cotton operatives were the collective organisations they established which forced employers and government to treat with them. By the beginning of the twentieth century these organisations had managed to raise wages, improve working conditions, reduce working hours, establish the right to holidays, and force the introduction of factory legislation. This book explores how these victories were won and the impact they had on the industry and wider society.
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