I was annoyed to find I’d missed Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys again last night, following in the footsteps of Salford’s George Bradshaw. The programme is on ridiculously early in the evening, just when I am usually cooking tea for the family, and I have only caught the last few minutes of some episodes. There was a programme about the importance of the cotton industry and Cottonopolis (Manchester) which I would like to see again – it is not the same watching it on i-player. Mr Portillo is going to visit the Scottish Borders tonight (one of my favourite places) in tonight’s programme so I must remember to set up the video recorder.
My feature for Discover My Past England this month is about tracing your cotton ancestors. Although the cotton industry is indelibly associated with Manchester and Lancashire, there were cotton mills in Cheshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and other counties. Your local archives are good places to find company wage books or pension records; check their online catalogues first before making a special journey.
Image: Lancashire Cotton Weaving shed, early 20th C. postcard. Author’s collection.