Ormskirk During The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution can be considered as a period, between 1760 and 1840, during which new manufacturing methods were developed that relied upon machines rather than more traditional hand production methods. This meant mass produced items became available for the first time and population grew at an unprecedented rate throughout Europe and the USA.

In truth, the Industrial Revolution had, in the context of the rest of Lancashire, a minimal impact on Ormskirk. The town continued to rely on agriculture as its main source of income, and whilst there was mechanisation in the countryside during this time it had much less of an impact than it would have in post-war Britain. Some industries were established in the town but these usually quickly failed.

Many towns across East Lancashire became famous for textiles during this period, with Manchester in particular becoming a global powerhouse of manufacture, but attempts to bring cotton spinning to Ormskirk, with the establishing of the Ormskirk Cotton Twist Company, never worked out. The financial commitment being too high for local businessmen. Similarly a silk weaving mill built in the early 1800s also failed.

There were some small industrial successes in Ormskirk, with several businesses emerging that were able to develop and trade in agricultural machinery or horticultural supplies, but these were the outliers in a town which otherwise, from an industrial point of view at least, remained largely unchanged.

The small industry that existed in Ormskirk prior to the Industrial Revolution did, of course, fair well during this period, with Liverpool, another city to benefit greatly from the start of globalisation, being the main market for small scale production of commodities such as ropes, clocks, hats and farm produce.

Ormskirk did not however miss out on the population growth which coincided with this particular period in history and a combination of this, along with an influx of Irish migrants following the Great Famine in Ireland meant that the town needed housing that was quick and cheap to build, thus leading to the rapid development of court housing behind the town’s four main streets. The nature of this housing meant that diseases such as cholera became an issue in Ormskirk. These houses would not be long lived, being demolished and replaced by housing estates such as the Scott Estate by as early as the 1920s.

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