Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,523 pages of information and 233,954 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Category:Town - Manchester

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'It is in the middle of this vile cesspool that the greatest stream of human industry flows out to fertilise the entire universe. From this filthy cesspit flows pure gold. It is here that the human spirit attains complete development, and at the same time, utter brutishness. Here civilisation produces its miracles and civilised man is turned back almost into a savage'. Alexis de Tocqueville[1]

THE ENGINE AND MACHINE WORKS. "Manchester possesses the largest works of this class of any place in the world. . . . the various firms are generally celebrated for the production of particular kinds of machinery — as for instance, Messrs. Peel, Williams, and Peel, Soho Works, and Messrs. Fairbairn & Co. for the large stationary engines and mill gearing; Messrs. Sharp Brothers & Co. and Messrs. Nasmyth, Gaskell, & Co. for locomotive engines; Messrs. Roberts & Co. for power-looms and other machinery; Messrs. Whitworths' for screw-cutting and planing machines, &c.; Messrs. Parr, Curtis and Madeley for spinning machinery, &c.; Messrs. E. T. Bellhouse & Co. for hydraulic and other presses, iron houses, &c. &c." [2]

The above statement appeared in a trade directory in 1853. The changes brought about in Manchester and Salford by the coming of the cotton industry were immense. Large numbers of cotton spinning and weaving mills brought in their wake numerous businesses making machinery, castings, chemicals, etc., etc.

An idea of the extent of the change can be seen by comparing the businesses listed in the 1853 directory with those in 1772. The 1772 directory of professional and tradespeople[3] lists very few engaged in the 'mechanical arts'. For example, there were just three loom makers, three foundries (two of these being only for brass), two pump makers, three whitesmiths, one millwright, and six clock or watch makers.

Manchester's first cotton spinning mill was established in 1781-2 by Richard Arkwright, after which there was dramatic growth in textile manufacture and processing. This is reflected in the extent of the supporting infrastructure. Bancks's 1800 directory for Manchester and Salford[4] lists, for example, nearly forty makers of machines (textile machines), and 16 iron foundries.

Note: The term Machine Makers in the early directories generally refers to textile machinery.

Sources of Information

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville, 'Oeuvres Completes', writing in the 1840s. Extract transcribed in 'Visitors to Manchester', compiled and edited by L D Bradshaw, published by Neil Richardson, 1987
  2. 1853 Directory of Manchester and Salford
  3. Elizabeth Raffald’s Directory of Manchester and Salford 1772, reprinted by Neil Richardson, ISBN 1 85216 051 9
  4. Bancks's Manchester and Salford Directory 1800, reprinted in 1982 and 1997 by Neil Richardson, ISBN 0 9506257 8 7



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Pages in category "Town - Manchester"

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