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Lancashire Textiles: Last Mill Standing

Apr 19, 2011

by Tara Young

MP4 | YouTube | Vimeo | | Subscribe in iTunes

(Music by C.J. Boyd)

Joe McBride of Burnley, UK, left school at sixteen with very few skills. He wanted to become an apprentice blacksmith, but the cotton factory jobs in town paid twice as much. It was an easy choice to make — Joe was soon learning everything from carding cotton, to spinning and weaving, to repairing equipment.

Cotton production was introduced to the UK after the advent of the cotton gin in 1793. Burnley was just one of the towns in Lancashire to embrace the cotton industry in the 1800s and early 1900s. The area was soon a hub of textile production, supplying 40% of the world’s cotton fabric around the time of the first World War.

Ten years ago, at a time when Lancashire’s textile industry had been hit hard and was struggling to compete with the cheap costs of labor and materials overseas, Joe McBride decided to open his own textile manufacturing company. Because shipping costs on bulky items are high, McBride doesn’t have to worry as much about imported goods taking away his business, but there are still periods of time when the mill is forced to “go quiet.”


McBride laments the lack of support from the government. There seems to be little interest in reviving this once vital revenue source in the UK. Mills in Burnley are being torn down on a weekly basis and the ones that are left standing are converted into housing or storage units. Joe McBride was offered enough money for his mill to retire on, but his passion for manufacturing and textiles has kept him going. McBride has found his cause, but as consumers we must consider: in our current infrastructure of global manufacturing, are traditional economies like Lancashire worth preserving? What are you fighting for when you’re championing the local factory?

For more of the history of the UK textile industry, read Ron Freethy’s wonderful book Memories of the Lancashire Cotton Mills.

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  • iWALLS

    iWALLS said 6 years ago

    This is amazing! The determination that he has to keep going is very inspiring!

  • LittleBirdWallArt

    LittleBirdWallArt said 6 years ago

    Great feature piece! I loved the video!

  • cjbcollectibles

    cjbcollectibles said 6 years ago

    Sound very much like the old steel mills here in Pittsburgh, Pa. I love that this is not something shipped over to China. Great feature!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Great work! It's so important to fight for this. Lowell, Ma was once a thriving textile city in New England, but it disappeared in the 50's.

  • LoveTheBaby

    LoveTheBaby said 6 years ago

    Really fascinating. Thanks for the story.

  • rebourne

    rebourne said 6 years ago

    thank you for showing the hardworking people keeping the mill going. i really enjoy seeing their operation and all of the different machines and people at work. i love how the workers do so many different tasks. good luck staying alive, and here is to supporting local and domestic.

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas said 6 years ago

    Things are changing luckily as we begin to appreciate quality again. The stats from my fashion marketing class about where textiles are produced opened my eyes and I work to share what I've learned. Great subject to discuss.

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry said 6 years ago

    Wonderful Short!!! An Eye-Opener too!!!

  • BlueRoseRetro

    BlueRoseRetro said 6 years ago

    The sad reality of a changing times. I enjoyed the video clip. I wish them the best in the future. I hope they can hang on, survive and even thrive.

  • weirdwares

    weirdwares said 6 years ago

    As a Northern lass myself it is heartening to see some of the old factories still going. The British dream is not that different than the American dream, and is founded on a rich history of traditional industries. It would be a tragedy for those resources and skills to become nothing more than a history lesson! I hope that the new renaissance of handmade/local crafts can continue to revive my country. <3

  • Numbers14

    Numbers14 said 6 years ago

    EXCELLENT, great to read about our history

  • slumbersoft

    slumbersoft said 6 years ago

    Very interesting, especially for me as a quilter and fabri-holic.

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 6 years ago

    Great article! Great work!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Very interesting. Hard to believe western industrial history is vanishing. But, it's happened in the U.S. too.

  • PearlGem

    PearlGem said 6 years ago

    Sad to say business goes with the lowest cost of production. Great info.

  • elinart

    elinart said 6 years ago

    Yes, absolutely they are worth preserving. We need those jobs!

  • theninthstitch

    theninthstitch said 6 years ago

    I'm moving to Lancashire soon and love the textile history that the area has. Congratulations on keeping a very British Industry going, I wish I could have the opportunity to learn more about the process of producing textiles....although I love designing textile patterns.

  • dirtygirlclean

    dirtygirlclean said 6 years ago

    very interesting post...

  • PruAtelier

    PruAtelier said 6 years ago

    I think this needs exposure all over..... Not too unlike the massive growth in the local foods movement, the home-grown textile movement's resurgence needs that same shot in the arm. With all the cottage industries that have cropped up in the last 10 years or less thanks to sites like Etsy, there is I think a huge growing appreciation and a demand for what once was. Many millions have lost their jobs and are turning to inventiveness and making things again after realizing that the "traditional" job market has dried up. I see it in the huge interest in vintage and artisan made, be it fashion, home goods....even as I mentioned the local and healthy foods movement. I would also like to see the suppliers open their doors and lower their minimums to the small artisans and manufacturers which are the only ones now that can fuel their growth and keep them from shutting down as a result of business drying up from their former large buyers. I like to think positive about it, that while looking at the demise of so much of these industries, there is also a slow growth at the same time which will I think, translate to huge demand later on.

  • chocolatedogstudio

    chocolatedogstudio said 6 years ago

    Keep the home factories going! Everyone needs work!

  • cataboliqueordinaire

    cataboliqueordinaire said 6 years ago

    This is the part of economic globalization that is just detrimental in the long run. Even if it does create jobs overseas and bolsters a foreign economy, eventually someone else has to pay/lose. In industry this happens, but on the scale with which it is occurring, it seems almost criminal. So foreign laborers are getting paid, most times minimal to overall revenue (mock welfare), a few people get rich, and a factory of real people are put out of a job; into the financial red. I noticed the man said "I worked for Joe 17-18 year" (and not Lancashire Textiles)...I think that's tradition worth preserving because it's attached to those real people. Besides, what happens when the foreign market creates their own standard, demands a higher price, and there's no home grown alternative to counteract? I guess that's just the way the game goes...

  • EternallyEmma

    EternallyEmma said 6 years ago

    I live literally 2 minutes walk from the place pictured at first & it is even more run down and taken over by moss & debris than shown here. There is also another mill at the bottom of the street I live on, my street having been build to accomodate the people who worked there when it opened & that also is now just rubble. I used to love going into it when I was younger & was most upset when it got knocked down. It would be terrible to be able to go round the whole of England & not find one working mill anywhere.

  • TandRHandweaving

    TandRHandweaving said 6 years ago

    As a weaver here in my home studio I am indeed touched by this short. It is time that Europe and America wake up - we need to support local manufacturing and cottage industries. If we do not do our best to support these groups I am afraid the skills and jobs will be lost forever in our countries.

  • cod123

    cod123 said 6 years ago

    Great story!

  • vintagemaison

    vintagemaison said 6 years ago

    YES definitely worth keeping! I'm a Lancashire lass born and bred and I remember the mills from my childhood in the 50s and 60s. The point about cotton manufacturing in Lancashire was that the damp atmosphere kept the cotton thread in fine fettle without snapping - perfect for making cotton fabric. Plus, you'll not find a better workman or worklass than a Northerner - always cheerful, willing, quick to learn a skill - it's about time that the UK government woke up to the fact that local industries could get the country back on its feet and be he envy of the world once more.

  • nickandnessies

    nickandnessies said 6 years ago

    Great story! Here in Columbus, GA we had a lot of cotton mills as well. We even have a section of our city, Bibb City (named after the Bibb Mill), that was recently incorporated into Columbus. I took a class in college about Bibb City. It's an amazing place, with all of the houses, schools, and other social systems built around the mill. Unfortunately, the Bibb Mill burnt down (after it stopped functioning) and Bibb City is missing it's heart. If you have a mill city where you live, it's really worth a tour!

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 6 years ago

    Formidable ! Great story ,great work !

  • Littlezozo

    Littlezozo said 6 years ago

    great story looks like aplace with devoted people i wish them the best

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 6 years ago

    well done Joe! worth keeping!! does he sell on etsy perhaps?

  • SoliDeoGloriaSDG

    SoliDeoGloriaSDG said 6 years ago

    How every tragic that such a huge industry died. It is awesome that this one is still going ... Wish I could order my bedding from you guys! Would so love to support this magnificent cause!!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    I think its a shame, all over the UK we've lost our manufacturing and other traditional hard labour industries. We've become a service economy and that isn't always a good thing!

  • SailThouForth

    SailThouForth said 6 years ago

    I grew up in a town with a paper mill, but the mill closed when I was a teenager. The town has somehow remained quite well-off, but it is basically a bedroom community with people working in other towns and cities nearby. Many other towns are not so lucky when their mills and factories close. A sad and all too common story.

  • simplyworn

    simplyworn said 6 years ago

    yes its worth fighting for...its more than income obviously for him its a lifestyle...a dying art bravo!

  • PatinaArtsAlchemy

    PatinaArtsAlchemy said 6 years ago

    I live in New England, near the Blackstone River Valley and Slater Mill: the site of the Industrial Revolution in America in the 1800s. There are hundreds of abandonded and repurposed textile mills in every direction. I even lived for a couple of years in a loft apartment in a converted textile mill. It's heartbreaking to see the demise of such a huge, thriving industry and the resultant long-ago unemployment and economic devastation on the towns all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I hope the story here can have a happy ending because this one person cares so much. Good luck.

  • SatinandBirch

    SatinandBirch said 6 years ago

    Thank you for bringing this to us, I hope it raises more awareness. No easy answers that's for sure. Except maybe to continue featuring these types of companies.

  • craftE1

    craftE1 said 6 years ago

    Good luck to you Joe. Hoping your company can stay alive. I was a fabric designer in NYC for many years until designers started using fabrics from offshore. All the major US mills started shuting down and jobs were lost. I loved designing on a handloom and selling my ideas to all the major 7th Ave retailers. Then I would visit the mills to see my designs weaving on the production looms. It was a joy. I was forced to find a new non creative career. Thanks to Etsy, I'm back into my creative world.

  • weirdwolf Admin

    weirdwolf said 6 years ago

    Meeting Joe McBride was so inspiring. Here's a person who went through the mill, learned tons of skills on the job and can do everything from weaving to building his own machinery. But without the government investing in manufacturing and without skilled workers to groom to take his place Joe's company may not outlast him. Do you think Joe's struggle is one worth fighting for? Or is Lancashire's transformation just the nature of change?

  • TipsyTimeMachine

    TipsyTimeMachine said 6 years ago

    Wool products were a sucessful export industry for England for centuries. So much so that when cotton was imported and worked in the English mills, the Wool industry was concerned about the effect this fabulous new cloth would have on their business. With pressure from these special interest groups, in the 1700's laws were passed against the wearing of cotton in England. So cotton was milled into cloth in the English mills, and then exported back to the colonies while the English people had to continue wearing scratchy wool underwear. It's sad that there isn't more government support today for manufacturing in the Western World. There used to be a thriving garment sewing industry in my home city, there isn't much left now. Some people are willing to pay more for locally manufactured products, but that may not be enough.

  • tangente

    tangente said 6 years ago

    Great story Tara.

  • TheFabricVineyard

    TheFabricVineyard said 6 years ago

    Unfortunate story. And it sounds like what has happened where I live, in Western NY, where many factories have gone overseas. Our factories have no support from our government either, since many of our policies, laws, etc., are what 'force' them to go overseas.

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    world trade, it is a mess. lots of industries in a lot of countries are experiencing similar hardships. fight the good fight.

  • MiriamDawn

    MiriamDawn said 6 years ago

    It is so important to have home made items local to each area. Unfortunately quantity has replaced quality and there is so much low quality items around. What I am fighting for - the average consumer to realize that home made and home grown is way much better.

  • TootHillMedley

    TootHillMedley said 6 years ago

    Following from TipsyTimeMachine's comment - it wasn't just the wool workers: prior to Crompton's (& others) inventions that revolutionised the production of textiles to enable an industrial scale, cloth production had been by craftspeople/artisans - whose jobs and freedom and autonomy of working were threatened & destroyed by the industrial revolution, which in itself has been destroyed a few hundred years later by outsourcing that industry to cheaper production centres overseas, who no doubt have the same doubts and fears over industrial production destroying traditional crafts. There were riots & deaths over the changes from craft to industry in the UK, and there was also great concern from the chattering classes as to the exploitation of millworkers vs. the nobility of the craftsperson (see Ruskin or Morris et al). Lancs. Textiles is exploiting a niche - where the shipping costs outweigh the benefits of the cheap production overseas, so it's cheaper for UK based companies to buy their duvets/ pillows etc from him than China. With previously cheap production centres overseas facing rising costs from demands for a better (or rather less basic/horrific) standard of living and with increasing shipping costs due to fluctuating oil prices and regional instability - maybe more firms will be able to start up and be viable longterm - but only if there is the demand, and for the demand there needs to be the commitment to buy local, with all the global ethical & moral & financial concerns that entails.

  • polkadotsandblooms

    polkadotsandblooms said 6 years ago

    While we cannot stop globalisation, we can ensure that our cultural heritage is kept alive, thanks to people like Joe. I have the deepest admiration for people like Joe!

  • FirebirdRetro

    FirebirdRetro said 6 years ago

    Wow, so much good here - heritage and sustainability. Keep going Joe

  • squarehare

    squarehare said 6 years ago

    more power to his elbow, we need to realise in this country to value real work and be willing to pay our craftsmen a wage they can buy food shoes and a roof with :)

  • KnitFrekkles

    KnitFrekkles said 6 years ago

    There is no stopping progress and globalisation but, when a country like ours doesn't make anything any more, surely the cost and implications of importing everything is risky at best in an unstable global economy. Great story.

  • TheThistlePatch

    TheThistlePatch said 6 years ago

    Really touching... very thoughtful. it certainly increases awareness of where products come from and the effect they have on the community.

  • Pigeons

    Pigeons said 6 years ago

    is this factory still open now? I would like to get in touch with them:-)

  • ericawalker

    ericawalker said 6 years ago

    This is such a thought provoking piece. I've always found such beauty in these old factory / mill buildings, especially the abandoned ones. I think part of the appeal is the untold story... Thank you Tara.

  • fabledreams

    fabledreams said 6 years ago

    inspiring piece, I work as a lingerie designer in Burnley. thanks for the story

  • fawnoverit

    fawnoverit said 6 years ago

    I wish they had a website you could see! This reminds me very much of where I grew up around Detroit, MI. The auto industry falling really wiped out many of the businesses in that area.

  • StephDonoghue

    StephDonoghue said 6 years ago

    I understand businesses want low costs to enable them to compete but if it means we're going to lose our industries completely that can't be a good thing. I know of many places that rely on one industry to provide large scale employment to that area and it's scary to think what will happen if they go, with more migration for employment the UK will end up with more 'lost villages'. Also what a shame their website isn't working properly.

  • RomanceCatsAndWhimsy

    RomanceCatsAndWhimsy said 6 years ago

    Wow - he had an offer for enough money to retire on but turned it down to pursue his passion ~ BRAVO! It takes super courage and determination. Hats off to you! Great story.

  • MonikaDesign

    MonikaDesign said 6 years ago

    Great story! I really enjoyed this video. I hope your company can stay alive. Wishing you good luck Joe!

  • kraftoosia

    kraftoosia said 6 years ago

    A very interesting post! I went to the Lineapelle trade show for the first time a few weeks ago and I was very unhappy to find out that most of the companies are not interested in supplying small artisans. This should really change!

  • potterybynoelle

    potterybynoelle said 6 years ago

  • blevison Admin

    blevison said 6 years ago

    It's so great to get all these responses from the Lancashire area. If you know of local organizations/folks that would benefit from this piece, please feel free to share it. It seems like we may have justly represented the Lancashire story ... which we're really pleased to hear. Thanks for all the comments.

  • jmartinez78

    jmartinez78 said 6 years ago

    A wonderful post! It's nice to see a Etsy video tackle the economics of local manufacturing while keeping the Etsy spirit. Very beautiful and interesting. thank you.

  • MandyBesek

    MandyBesek said 6 years ago

    Joe, thank you keeping textiles alive! :)

  • MargaretMousley

    MargaretMousley said 6 years ago

    Thank you for the enlightening video. My distant Grandfather, from Manchester, worked in a fabric mill. Now we have a small, family business manufacturing clothing, and we try to use as much made in USA fabric as possible. It is SO important to support the local businesses, You are providing jobs, and that is what will make a vibrant community. Thanks for making the world a better place.

  • JimArnold

    JimArnold said 6 years ago

    Don't know if 'progress' is the correct word, its too bad for sure, there are empty textile mills in many places here in North Carolina just rotting away. I find it ironic that this website pushes itself as a global handmade marketplace yet allows the mass produced heartless garbage from giant SE Asian, Indian, and Brazillian companies to dominate its listings??? For all of the hand holding and 'individual artist', 'crafter', 'give up your day job', 'you can be successful with your dream' BS, its still big business running the show here and everywhere else.

  • mmmmmvintage

    mmmmmvintage said 6 years ago

    We must support our local businesses! Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, PA in the 40s & 50s - God Bless my parents - they did not permit us to buy anything that was made 'off shore'... from cars to blouses! Over the years I wish more parents instilled this into their family morals- maybe the USA wouldn't be in this problem!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 6 years ago

    Thats why I love Etsy so much, you know whatever you purchase on this site was constucted well, and handmade with passion! It's like having a little town shop right at your fingertips. I have purchased alot on Etsy and have always been amazed at the craftmanship of every item!

  • christianmazza

    christianmazza said 6 years ago

    Great job on this T, enjoyed watching it.

  • silknparachute

    silknparachute said 6 years ago

    Searching for one hour, could not find one single link to support this Mill, or where to buy the cotton, or bedding. How do they sell stuff? Is not the point of these articles to keep them from going out of business? Can someone post a link to where they sell their goods on-line?

  • JumpUp

    JumpUp said 6 years ago

    I grew up in Lancashire and a lot of history classes at school were dedicated to teaching us about the cotton industry and the mills - it's nice to see something on Etsy's blog that's so close to home. It's tragic how many manufacturers are being forced out of the market by cheaper factories elsewhere in the world. Well done Joe for being so passionate about keeping the business going!

  • maggieandmodesigns

    maggieandmodesigns said 6 years ago

    I love this picture! My family came from Lancashire in the UK. I have traced our family back before 1620. They were shepherds and later moved into growing cotton before making the journey to the U.S.

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 6 years ago

    Lovely story! I truly hope you can manage to keep this mill open especially under these current conditions! Cotton is beautiful in every sense and so versatile! It is such a pity that factories are closing in countries to go elsewhere! Amazing quest! I wish you all the best!

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous cinematography as always.

  • TheJuicyFig

    TheJuicyFig said 6 years ago

    I live 6 miles from Burnley - my Grandma worked in one of our village mills, and our family owned mills in Clitheroe - Cotton certainly was king! Although I don't think many would want to go back to those working conditions it is a shame to loose that part of our local heritage.

  • BeddingDirectUK

    BeddingDirectUK said 6 years ago

    BEDDINGDIRECTUK.COM We are sellers of the finest Lancashire Textiles Ltd products. Please take a look at our website, type in a search on the site for what you are looking for. The website is powered by Amazon so all you need is an Amazon account to be able to purchase. If you don't the website simply guides you through the account registration process. All payments are fully secured and verified by Amazon. All orders are delivered within 3 working days in the UK, 5 working days to Europe and 7-10 days to the USA. Please visit today

  • cinnamongirlprints

    cinnamongirlprints said 6 years ago

    fantastic film! more please! x

  • PieceTherapy

    PieceTherapy said 6 years ago

    This is a fantastic story. Such a shame.

  • Dimarsart

    Dimarsart said 6 years ago

    As someone who has also worked in the textile industry, I find this video so sad.... it would be amazing if the UK could grasp some of this business back.

  • snolbertogoster

    snolbertogoster said 6 years ago

    As a Northern lad myself, running a small printing firm in Bolton I can totally understand Joe`s frustration. Nobody wants to help, certainly no-one listens, so you either pack in and give up, which is what they want, or fight as hard as you can, which is what we try to do. Inspirational Joe, best wishes, Simon Gough at Snolberto

  • Chameleonite

    Chameleonite said 6 years ago

    Another Lancashire lass here! I grew up in a mill town, and still live here, but all the mills have long since disappeared. How the landscape has changed since I was a nipper. The only original chimney still standing, and a local landmark, is now on the site of a supermarket!

  • dlwk

    dlwk said 6 years ago

    I grew up in Yorkshire (Leeds) and the woollen industry is in my blood. In my lifetime I have seen the industry destroyed just like the cotton industry. Successive governments are to blame for their short sightedness, lack of determination to take these once great industries forward and lack of imagination. In schools the same governments destroyed valuable skills like sewing by removing it from the curriculum so every youngster could go work in a bank... and look where that has landed us! If you sew and have the skills pass them on to the younger generation and FIGHT for the survival of craft. What sort of a life is it without these pleasures? Strange that Italy can produce woollen cloth and we can't. The mills of Leeds are now hotels bars and restaurants

  • girlindustries

    girlindustries said 6 years ago

    I grew up in Salford and my interest in textiles and sewing was fired when I visited the textiles mill in our small town with school. I asked to buy a bag of remnants from the shop floor, they agreed, and I started making and selling scrunchies to my friends - a crafty entrepreneur was born! My grandmother worked in a mill making towels for most of her life, and I married my husband in a mill which has been preserved as a world heritage site (New Lanark). Mills have been a huge part of my family heritage for generations - so much so that my mother's family name is Waterhouse - and I feel sad that my own daughter probably won't have any 'live' connection to the industry which has been such a huge influence on my life. Thank you for the article and film, and best of luck to Joe and those working in similar ways to keep tradition and domestic industry alive.

  • seventyseventyone

    seventyseventyone said 6 years ago

    A lot of my ancestors worked in the Lancashire cotton mills. My great great grandad was sent to the mills aged 4 in 1849 and worked in the mills for over 52 years. I like to think my interest in textiles in is my blood.

  • swirlyarts

    swirlyarts said 6 years ago

    I'm from Burnley too and know of Joe's mill. My Nana worked in the mills here in Burnley and it is sad to see what was once a thriving industry nearly disappear. Great film too btw.

  • CountrysideDeb

    CountrysideDeb said 6 years ago

    Lovely piece - very evocative. Glad the pictures from Ron's book were of use :)

  • kraft1kimmi

    kraft1kimmi said 6 years ago

    as a cottage industry the mills and machinery would be best placed as people cooperatives

  • LondonFelt

    LondonFelt said 6 years ago

    Great inspiring story and a beautifully crafted film. I guess this is the website adress so why dont we uk etsy folk buy from them when we get new pillows/ duvets?

  • littlechook

    littlechook said 6 years ago

    My first job was as a designer in a scottish weaving mill. I loved it. I loved the people and the work. Even the sounds of the mill on this film brought back memories. Sadly the fabrics can be produced much cheaper overseas and the mill has been demolished to make way for a Tesco supermarket. Great film, thanks etsy

  • roseglen

    roseglen said 6 years ago

    I remember reading about the textiles industries at school, and ordering fabric samples from these mills. Its very sad to hear of the decline of these industries, and I hope something can be done to keep Joe's factory going even beyond his time. A great film

  • FruteJuce

    FruteJuce said 6 years ago

    my Mum worked at McBrides for a time and grew up in Rossendale. She worked in many of the areas of textiles and shoe manufacture during this time. She is now 77 and sadly reflects on the decline of the industries of 'the north'. We should support our local industries, who knows what the future holds for us.

  • mollimoo

    mollimoo said 6 years ago

    My mum & dad both left school at 14 & worked in Bolton in the cotton mills, as did my grandparents. Very interesting film and a part of our heritage that I don't often think about, thank you x

  • maracujadesign

    maracujadesign said 5 years ago

    Well done Joe for keeping going at such a difficult time. As I have family connections in Barnoldswick - just down the road I know the area well and have always loved trawling around the local mill shops for remnants, sheeting, knitting wool etc. Very best wishes for a secure and prosperous future x

  • rachellucie

    rachellucie said 5 years ago

    I'm a local, over the hill in Hebden Bridge, once a great centre in the cotton and weaving trade, alas none are now left. I hadn't heard of Joe's mill - but really heartened to see that in a tiny way, there is still some of our old industry left, being kept alive by someone who obviously has the vision and passion to do so. thanks for the article!

  • NicholeDesigns

    NicholeDesigns said 5 years ago

    Great! film Thanks Etsy!

  • lissionetsy

    lissionetsy said 5 years ago

    it's so important to keep our manufacturings a part of the country !! This is great to see that there are people doing just that :)

  • MadeByUs2009

    MadeByUs2009 said 5 years ago

    I was really interested in this film as I am from Burnley but had no idea this company was here. I couldn't even place where it was from the film. Managed to find out where they are now and I think that the message should be out around our area to encourage people to buy from them and keep them going. They do retail and I need new cushions so I think I'll be in touch.

  • KalandraJane

    KalandraJane said 5 years ago

    I grew up in Burnley. I really hope Joe can keep his mill as a going concern... it's so saddening to see the old shells of the mills falling down beside the canal, either through being burnt out, vandalised or simply left to rot. Because of a lack of jobs in the town after the closure of the mills plus the loss over the years of other manufacturing jobs, nobody can actually afford to live in those flats converted from mills, so they stand empty too.

  • jessicajanehall

    jessicajanehall said 5 years ago

    I grew up in Yorkshire, which had woolen mills instead of cotton mills. I went into the fashion business partly because of the sheep farming around me and the architecture of the mill buildings. I loved the old mill towns like Halifax and lament the demise of these industries which employed so many. I use lots of cotton scraps and fabric offcuts in my work (jewellery incorporating textiles). Now most cotton comes from India, Egypt and beyond the EU where it is often grown and harvested in conditions approaching slave labour. Yes, I know the industrial revolution wasn't great for everyone in the Uk either. I hope Joe can keep his mill going... how can we help, any suggestions?

  • rosiepinkStudio

    rosiepinkStudio said 5 years ago

    Keep fighting Joe - textiles rule!

  • Isabellestudio

    Isabellestudio said 5 years ago

    such an interesting story , so sad as well but at least he is keeping this heritage alive,we may need again one day you never want to lose this knowledge!

  • TheNewRoseGarden

    TheNewRoseGarden said 5 years ago

    Don't give up Joe McBride!!

  • charleychau

    charleychau said 5 years ago

    I set up a small dog bedding company last year and spent all summer visiting manufacturers like Joe at Lancashire Textiles. An amazing insight into a world that I never even knew existed having spent all of my career in the City in London. Some of these businesses are just so run down they will never stand a chance, but then there are some really amazing businesses too and they need all of our help to survive. I made a very deliberate decision last year to make all of our products in England after what I'd seen on my tours of mills and factories in Lancashire and Yorkshire. And I hope more small businesses will do the same. Cost is definitely an issue but we're giving it a go and really hope we can sustain it.

  • StephieStephie

    StephieStephie said 5 years ago


  • retirementcoach

    retirementcoach said 5 years ago

    How strange! This is my first visit to Etsy and the first thing I see is a video about the decline of the textile industry in my home town - Burnley. Most of my parents' and grandparents' generations worked in the mills at some stage - usually their first job after leaving school. My dad, (who didn't work in textiles but has a history degree and specialised in local history), now works as a volunteer at The Weavers' Triangle - a museum about the textile industry in Burnley and gives guided tours of some of the canalside buildings you show in your video. It's a small world!

  • briarsdesigns

    briarsdesigns said 5 years ago

    Interesting film. Keep going. Its great to see people so determined to keep uk manufacturing going.

  • mysterybandit

    mysterybandit said 5 years ago

    Really interesting! And great to see somthing featured about the north west. The Harris museum in Preston have a really interesting exhibition about the industrial revolution which looks at Horrockses aswell as other mills in the area! Grest item! ;D

  • abigailandgeorge

    abigailandgeorge said 5 years ago

    Wow! This is so inspiring. Well done Joe :) It is such a shame these mills are being torn down, or turned into storage/housing units. We should preserve them, as they are part of our heritage. I hate to see old buildings go to ruin and even worse, being torn down.... Heartbreaking.

  • tluther

    tluther said 5 years ago

    It's sad to see the textile mills disappear. I can remember seeing the chimneys of the mills while travelling up to South Shields to see my grandparents many many years ago. I give Joe a big Hurrah for the struggle he is going through to save his mill and provide jobs for the people of his town.

  • LorcanM

    LorcanM said 5 years ago

    Good luck Joe, you're keeping Burnley's Heritage alive and working, and that's an honorable thing to do, and something that should be supported. I live in neighbouring Blackburn, and our cotton industry and has seen a similar terminal decline. The last cotton mill in Blackburn closed in 2005, and we now only have one cotton mill chimney remaining, against a skyline that at the height of the industrial era would have seen some 200 pointing up to the heavens. Two of the only other cotton chimney standing was demolished in March of this year. Towns like Burnley and Blackburn feel as if they've been left behind, and are struggling to keep their heads above water. With more financial support, business incentives and economic breaks, a small scale industry revival could be possible, but businesses like Joe's need promoting, celebrating and championing by the government. Keep chipping away Joe!

  • VioletVickers

    VioletVickers said 5 years ago

    ! admire Joe and his workers for their determination and hard work. I hope you can keep it going. I do think however that the tide is starting to turn and people are beginning to appreciate the quality and realiability of goods made byu people like Joe. Also I did hear that the workers in China were leaving the sweat shops and going to work in the construction industry where they earned more money, but I don't know how true this is. Good luck and best wishes to Joe and others like him.

  • Snowdon

    Snowdon said 5 years ago

    Very inspirational!

  • londonlime

    londonlime said 5 years ago

    now we just need to grow a local fibre that he can spin and weave. Flax or hemp for example. Very inspiring film

  • FeltNatural

    FeltNatural said 5 years ago

    like so many people who have commented, i am also a northern lass, from yorkshire... and i have wool, weaving and felting in my blood... i grew up at time when acrylic was the bees knees and you couldnt find a knitted wool sweater anywhere,,, well i did find friends of yorkshire and their hand knitted sweaters and they have been an inspiration to me over the years... i am positive that before too long the cottage industries of the past will be our present!!!!

  • CalderdaleCreatives

    CalderdaleCreatives said 5 years ago

    I was born a few miles from away Joe's mill in Burnley. The last three generations of my family were all weavers who left school at 14 or 15 and went to work in the cotton mills. My childhood memories all feature the sound of the looms running as a background sound track. If I'd been born 10 years earlier I would probably have been a weaver too. The economic decline of the area since the 1970's has meant most of the mills have gone - and with them a lot of memories and sense of community. Thank you to Tara and Joe for this film that shows something of the spirit of the place.

  • Larfsmumxx

    Larfsmumxx said 5 years ago

    I too was born and brought up near to Burnley, All my ancestors listed in the censuses all have the job titles listed as either "weavers" or "cotton spinners". I too have the familiar beat of the looms clanking away when taken into the mill at the shift change and being passed from one or the other Parent or Grandparent finishing their shift at work to go home and then be on housework shift . this was a normal way of life for children born right up into the early 80's when the mills started their decline... When I visit the area now... all the mills my parents and Grandparents worked at have all gone, or are "mill shops" which have nothing to do with anything that was ever made there, but the space being used to cram as many small Retail stores into one place as possible. All that skill lost ! I did work experience filling the "batteries" with the "perns" of cotton that sat in the shuttles on the "Old Lancashire Looms"... I wonder how many here know what the heck I am talking about there! Going on the tour of "Smith and Nephews" in its hey day as a child seeing the processes from start to finish now that was industry at its best! seeing everything from bandages to heavy denim being made in one factory! Keeping several of the surrounding towns populations in employment! nothing like that now. Well Done Joe for keeping going! All the best for the future.

  • oneimadeearliertoday

    oneimadeearliertoday said 5 years ago

    As a company we look after industrial boilers in mills, hospitals etc so we know where you are coming from Joe, all the mills we looked after have gone. Fortunately for us we are a small company and have managed to ride the tide of the recession. After more than 30 years in the industry we are glad to be getting towards retirement. Saying that I'd we can help out in anyway let us know, we are only in Whitworth down the road. Best wishes Lynn & Philip Holland of Hollandweld Ltd., Industrial Boiler Repairers 01706 344249/07836 674888

  • davegreenceramics

    davegreenceramics said 5 years ago

    Great film Tara, I was quite surprised to see this on Etsy. The first film I watch here and it's about Burnley. For many years I owned/ ran a manufacturing firm in Burnley and eventually gave up because of the competition from the far east and because we got no help from the government - Thatcher in those days! I went on a school trip to this mill when I was about 12 -13 and I think it was the last one then over 40 years ago. Good luck to them I hope they can keep it going another 40 years. Dave

  • Furiousdreams

    Furiousdreams said 5 years ago

    Wonderful film. All the old textile mills in the Atlanta area are being turned into either loft living spaces or (better) artists' spaces. It's inspiring to see a small company producing textiles in any country outside of China. I bought a new green mattress from a similar company out of Chicago, and support local businesses anywhere I can find them.

  • EssentialVintage

    EssentialVintage said 5 years ago

    I am from Lancashire and we traced our family tree. My ancestors on my Dad's side were all mill workers, some started work there at 13 and were illiterate. Good luck to Joe with reviving the local economy again. It is such a tragedy to see so many local businesses closing down including so many pubs and interesting little independent shops.

  • PhoebeWillow

    PhoebeWillow said 5 years ago

    Really lovely little film. Food for thought and long may the mill last!!

  • Ginnysminis

    Ginnysminis said 5 years ago

    Of course this is where it all began.......The Industrial Revolution........what a proud inheritance to keep going, bravo!!!!!

  • Pollypurl

    Pollypurl said 5 years ago

    Something I am really passionate about- we should all as business's and individual's be endeavoring to buy British goods.

  • AlisonMooreDesigns

    AlisonMooreDesigns said 5 years ago

    I grew up just down the valley from Joe and the masses of chimneys were indeed iconic of my home town. My grandparents and people of their generation were all textile workers, but now with the chimneys gone and the mills either demolished or transformed into commuter apartments, there's hardly any manufacturing that takes place there. So sad to see the decline of British manufacturing. As Pollypurl above intimated, bring back the campaign "Buy British"! (Glad to see a Burnley FC shirt made it on to Etsy!)

  • wanderwitch

    wanderwitch said 5 years ago

    I agree with everyone else. I'm from London and I remember loads of small factories and workshops set back from the High Road which provided a lot of work for people. Here in the UK we need to start making many more things again and not rely on imports.

  • angelwhisperssh

    Sharon Marie from angelwhisperssh said 5 years ago

    I live only a few miles away from Burnley. It is heartwarming to know that someone is fighting to keep this textile industry alive. I well remember the cotton mills - I once worked in them myself! The wages were good and jobs were plentiful! You could buy fabric cheaply, now you struggle to see a fabric shop, and when you do the prices are outrageous! I wish we could do something to bring back our manufacturing industries, especially cotton, to this country. Lancashire is certainly a damp climate and the reason why cotton mills were set up here. Its all so sad! x

  • fabrichappy

    fabrichappy from fabrichappy said 5 years ago

    Tara, I enjoyed

  • fabrichappy

    fabrichappy from fabrichappy said 5 years ago

    Sorry about that, I'm pretty new to blogging. Anyway, Tara, I enjoyed your film and all respect to Joe for keeping a British heritage industry alive. I do feel more could be done by the powers that be to support such industries and help keep them going even when such tough competition exists globally within the industry. These vital skills and knowledge are being lost along with the architectural and social heritage these industries created. We still need diversity in the UK, we need industry and manufacturing and we need to offer opportunities in such industries to our young people to offer them the chance to work and feel useful and make their way in the world.

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