Manchester-moments and musings on the Lancashire cotton mills and the cotton famine. 1862.

These red bricks, these tall chimneys,

Coloured by their blood, shaped by the hands of their children

Carried on their rugged shoulders and working class calves.

We don’t look up enough, we don’t marvel at what they gave us.

These edifices echo with their pain and suffering

Voices of our forefathers, sinewed souls of our ancestors

They built their empires in cotton and coal so that we could enjoy

The fruits of their labours and be forever known as the workshop of the world.


Salford, Stalybridge, Manchester, Blackburn, Wigan-working that weft

Darwen, Accrington, Chorley, Preston, winding that bobbin up.

And the roll call falters, unemployment, hunger, desperation, and impoverishment

They stood together arm in arm, hand in hand, through protest and starvation,

To demonstrate their love and pride for another brother in another place.

We should stand tall for we stand on the shoulders of giants

They gave us humility, compassion, work ethic and pride.

True northern spirit and true northern soul.


©Alison Jean Hankinson

Featured image from the public domain labelled for reuse. Horrockses Cotton Mill Preston.

Other images are my own.

This journey into the cotton famine was a soulful journey and I am very proud of the stance taken by the Lancashire millworkers and the sacrifices they made. We were encouraged to look at soul for poetics at d’Verse. 

I have edited this and made some changes.







Author: alisonhankinson

Walking tall whenever I can.

32 thoughts on “Manchester-moments and musings on the Lancashire cotton mills and the cotton famine. 1862.”

  1. I didn’t know it coincided with the blockade of Southern ports in the U.S. during the Civil War. You described the suffering of the hungry very well. They went from the most productive workforce to unemployment almost overnight

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up in a mill town, in a town that also manufactured tobacco products. I think of all the billboard – kitchen and loving room downstairs, 4 tiny bedrooms upstairs. A tiny front yard and even tinier back yatd. I had relatives that grew up in those houses and friends that worked the factories. A hard life indeed. I like your litany of the towns…like a match they are. Excellent poem.


  3. I’m a southerner with a northern soul, Alison, and I love the picture you’ve painted of the dark past of ‘the workshop of the world.. Northern place names are so musical and evocative. I’ll think of you when we sing ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ at Bounce and Rhyme later this morning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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