Lancashire's army of cotton workers

New research reveals how many people world in county's mills during the industry's heyday

Friday, 16th July 2021, 3:45 pm

At the advent of the Industrial Revolution cotton was Britain’s biggest import, and the dominant force of the economy was the Lancashire cotton industry.

New research by Ancestry.com reveals just how big a part the industry played at the heart of county life with mills dominating the skyline and employing thousands of men, women and children.

Historical census records show in 1911 there were 129,411 cotton weavers, 13,288 cotton spinners and 11,555 cotton winders listed across Lancashire.

Mill workers at A Berry and Sons cotton mill in Leyland in the mid-1920s
Mill workers at A Berry and Sons cotton mill in Leyland in the mid-1920s

By the 1939 register numbers had fallen to 64,685 cotton weavers, 7,402 cotton winders and 7,037 cotton spinners.

The fall illustrates the start of a decline which accelerated in the post war era with many of Lancashire’s mills closing in the decades after the war.