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Places to visit in the North West


JAMES Hargreaves, who designed the spinning jenny, was born at Oswaldtwistle near Blackburn. He built machines for himself and his family and friends before machine-breaking farmers, worried about their livelihoods, moved in and forced him to move to Nottingham.


ONE of the major centres of the cotton industry, approximately 10 miles north west of Manchester. Samuel Crompton, inventor of the Spinning Mule, lived and worked at Hall i’ th’ Wood, just north of the town, while coincidentally Richard Arkwright, who claimed to have invented the water frame, worked in the town as a barber – a plaque in Churchgate marks the site of his shop.


ANOTHER of the outer ring of cotton towns. The town’s Queen Street Mill is worth a visit – it is a late 19th century, steam-powered weaving shed with a 500hp engine fed by a Lancashir boiler. The mill was built as a workers’ co-operative and retains much of its original machinery.


JOHN Kay, inventor of the flying shuttle, lived at a farmhouse just North of Bury, on the road to Burnley. His home is still in existence but is now a private dwelling. Prime Minister Robert Peel, famed for his repeal of the Corn Laws and the introduction of the modern police force, was born at Chamber Hall, Bury (left), where his father, who was a member of Parliament and social reformer, ran a substantial textile business before moving to the Midlands.
Chamber Hall was demolished this century to make way for an electricity generating station. Nearby Burrs, where the Peels’ mill was situated, is worth a visit.


{Helmshore Mill} A MOORLAND village between Bury and Blackburn which is home to the two fascinating Helmshore tex-tile museums. Higher Mill is a fulling mill built in 1789, with the original waterwheel driving the restored fulling stocks, which can be seen in operation.

Next to it is Whitaker’s spinning mill, with working mules and ancilliary equipment which are demonstrated regularly, plus rare machinery including an 18th-century example of Arkwright’s water frame. The museum boasts a pleasant cafe and a well-stocked bookshop.


ALTHOUGH the city is unrecognisable now as the Victorian powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution,┬áthere is much to see. Within a few hundred yards at Castle-field are the restored terminus of the Bridgewater Canal and the terminus of Stephenson’s Liverpool-Manchester railway. Nearby in the Museum of Science and Industry there are many IR exhibits. The Rochdale Canal links Castlefield with the other side of the city where, in Ancoats, can be found a mill complex that includes Manchester’s only surviving 18th century mill (left).


BIRTHPLACE of Richard Arkwright, who became the world’s first great industrialist and the man who invented the factory system. The one-time barber returned to Preston to build his first, experimental water-frame spinning machine before opening his first mill in Nottingham.The Harris Museum and Art Gallery has a display on Arkwright (including a model of the waterframe) and a display area dedicated to the Horrockses company.The museum is in Market Square, Preston, open Monday to Saturday 10am – 5pm (closed Bank Holidays).


ONE of the ring of cotton towns around Manchester, approximately 12 miles North east of the city. The world’s first successful co-operative society, the Rochdale Pioneers, was formed here in 1844. The shop in Toad Lane where it all started is still there.

Styal Mill

WORKING mill museum in the Cheshire countryside between Manchester and Wilmslow. The mill still produces articles for sale, while the house that was home to pauper child workers from Liverpool can be visited.


INDUSTRIAL town on the River Mersey, midway between Manchester and Liverpool. Many of the non-conformist businessmen who helped to make Manchester a centre of world trade were educated at Warrington’s famous Academy – the building is now the home of the local newspaper.

At one time, more than half the sailcloth used by the Royal Navy was manufactured in Warrington. The Bridgewater Canal, the Old Quay Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal pass just to the south of the town while the Sankey-St Helens Canal is a couple of miles to the west.


THE Duke of Bridgewater’s canal starts here and runs to Manchester, a few miles to the east. The Delph, where the canal went underground into the Duke’s mines, can still be seen and in summer it’s possible to take a boat cruise on the canal. A few miles to the South is the Barton swing aqueduct, which carries the Bridgewater over the Manchester Ship Canal.