Rise and Fall

York Street Mill, Belfast, around 1880. The original cotton mill burned down in 1828 and rebuilt as a flax mill.

I’ve been reading up on the industrialization (or not, as the case actually was) of the Irish cotton spinning industry. It really was a sharp rise and fall. It began in the 1780s, in 1811 it employed 2,000 spinners and 30,000 part time local weavers, in 1816 there began a decline, and by 1836 it had largely vanished. Whoosh.

I remember when [linen] was the best occupation in Ireland; now it has gone to nothing. The cotton trade has ruined the linen; formerly everybody wore linen, and now everybody wears cotton.

(As told to R. M. Muggeridge, the Assistant Handloom Commissioner around 1840.)

Muggeridge added that

…fabrics so little dissimilar in their nature and their uses, and capable of being so frequently substituted one for the other, must necessarily partake of something like rivalry; but when the cost of the one is reduced to less than one fourth of the other… it needs no philosopher to foretell which would ultimately gain the preference.

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This entry was posted in antrim, belfast, cotton, fibre, flax, ireland, linen, mills, northern ireland, water-power mills. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Rise and Fall

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