Threads of Lancashire History

Children in Lancashire are taking history into their own hands. Armed with tape-recorders, they have been out delving into people's pasts, with the idea of building up material for a week of drama based on real life experiences. It is just one of fifty or sixty projects organised across the breadth of Britain to coincide with the Young Historians Scheme's History Day. Les Hardy, development officer for the Scheme, sees the day, set for October 12th, as an attempt to 'provide a national focus for the exploration of history amongst young people. It aims, in particular, to help history flourish in local areas.

The local history project in Lancashire gives a good example. Undertaken by children of junior and senior level from a variety of schools, it is examining aspects of industrial history in the East Lancashire cotton towns during the twentieth century, paying close attention to the experiences of the textile workers. The project is set against a background of an industry in decline. Cotton production reached its peak on the eve of the First World War, but fell in the 1920s when the export market began to dwindle. A further slump after the Second World War led to the introduction of a three-shift system in order to make full use of machinery. The reluctance of many workers to adapt to this system caused in part an influx of immigrant workers who were prepared to work the different shifts. Although the industry now produces only a fraction of its former turnover it has stabilised, concentrating more on specialised textile production.

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