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Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1853. p23-33

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This is a sub-section of 1853 Directory of Manchester and Salford

Cotton Manufacture

To illustrate the cotton manufacture descriptively, we cannot do better than detail the history of a bale of wool from the period of its importation to its manufacture into various beautiful fabrics as all readers are aware, cotton is a downy substance, gathered from the seed-pod of a plant. These plants are cultivated until the pod bursts, and at that time multitudes of women and children are employed to gather the wool and seeds, leaving the husks behind. As the retention of the seeds would interfere with the fabrics in course of manufacture, the cotton is spread out to dry in the sun, and afterwards passed through machinery constructed for the purpose of clearing the fibre from the seeds, and in other respects preparing it for exportation. The cotton is then packed by hydraulic pressure in compact bales, and is then shipped to the broker, merchant, or consignee at Liverpool.

In the year 1755, the import of cotton from America was five bags, in 1781 six bags, and in 1787 108 bags; but such is the difference that the number now will probably be 2,000,000 bags. The quick sale of cotton, at even half a farthing a pound profit, will realize princely sums, and the brokers of Liverpool have frequently, when backed by large capitalists, exercised a most injurious influence on the commercial prospects of Manchester and the manufacturing districts. Rumours of "short crops," " scarcity of the article," " unfavourable seasons," and many other fabrications, characterize the brokers of Liverpool as much as the ingenious stock jobbers of London. Frequently have the mills had to run on short time, and in some instances to stop altogether. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce are, however, endeavouring to defeat the recurrence of these distressing periods by trying the cotton-growing capabilities of Africa and India.

Samples have been tested from those regions, and in some instances have been pronounced by competent judges to be superior to the American cotton for fineness of fibre and other requisite properties; but as the history of the cotton manufacture shows that the capabilities for its manufacture have exceeded the production of the raw material, years must elapse ere those countries can yield a supply to compete with the American states. Mr. Baines, in his work, gives the following account of the mode of conducting the cotton sales at Liverpool. Cotton is sold at Liverpool by brokers, who are employed by the importers, and are charged 10s. per £100 for their trouble in valuing and selling it. The buyers, who are the Manchester cotton dealers, and the spinners all over the country, also employ brokers, at the same rate of commission, to make their purchases. The cotton is principally bought and sold by sample - the purchasers very rarely considering it necessary to examine the bulk. By the strict probity and honour invariably observed by the brokers in their dealings with each other, this immense business is conducted with a facility and despatch which have probably no parallel in any other market of the world, and which could not exist to the same extent in the sale of any other description of merchandise.

It may be mentioned, as a proof both of the excellence of the arrangements for carrying on the business, and of the integrity of the parties engaged in it, that, though the sales are not made with the formalities necessary to render the bargains legally binding, a dispute or difficulty in their fulfilment is almost unknown. Whatever misunderstandings arise are at once settled by a reference to some of the brokers, not interested in the transaction; arid such is the good feeling which prevails among them, that on these occasions the decision is, with scarcely an exception, prompt and satisfactory." It is possible that, in the interval which has elapsed since Mr. Baines wrote his account of the cotton manufacture, whence the above is taken, the extension of railway communication may have somewhat modified the system of conducting sales between the merchants of Liverpool and the manufacturers here; but the main features are doubtless the same. The bags of cotton having been thus purchased, the next object of the manufacturer is their conveyance to his mill, and such is the extraordinary quickness and facility of transit between Liverpool and Manchester, that an enormous quantity of cotton in Liverpool can be delivered at the factories in Manchester within two or three hours after its purchase. There are now two lines of railway between Manchester and Liverpool, and both offer their respective facilities for the despatch of business.

To show how wonderfully the creative genius of Manchester industry has developed itself, we quote the following interesting extract from "Francis's History of the English Railway," illustrative of communication between Manchester and Liverpool thirty years ago.- The cotton sent from Liverpool to this place had increased fifty millions of pounds in nine years. The docks of Liverpool had seen their shipping augmented by 1,091. vessels in the same period. The progress of the timber trade had been active in proportion. From 1821 to 1824, the exports from Liverpool had increased seven millions and a half. The dock duties had increased eight-fold and the tonnage had increased from seventy-one thousand to more than a million tons. The capital employed in loans was now employed in commerce and manufactures, and business was flourishing. In Manchester a similar progress was visible. In 1790 a solitary steam engine was exhibited to the curious spectator; in 1824, the smoke from two hundred darkened the air. In 1814 the loom gave its graceful produce to manual labour only; ten years later, 30,000 machines were worked by that power which Watt discovered, and which, first introduced into Lancashire by the elder Peel, proved the foundation of a fortune and a fame alike colossal. From 1760 the trade in cotton had doubled every twenty years. In 1781 and 1785, Arkwright's patents were annulled, and a gigantic stride was the consequence.

The population of Manchester and Liverpool had increased since the discovery of steam and the improvements in machinery to an unprecedented extent. Liverpool numbered, in 1824, 108,000 inhabitants more than in 1788. Manchester had increased from 1752 to 1824 by 139,000 souls. Although the wealth, the wisdom, and the importance of Manchester and Liverpool had thus increased, there was no increase in the carriage power between the two places. The canal companies, the Irwell and Mersey navigation, the Duke's canal, and the Leeds and Liverpool, enjoyed a virtual monopoly; and, with that singular want of foresight which often accompanies unrivalled success, they had abused their power and controlled their customers. The agents of these companies were despotic in their treatment of the great houses which supported them; they formed agreements to charge the same rates, and adopt the same plans. The charges, though high, were submitted to; but the time lost was unbearable to the active spirits thus controlled. The canal proprietors were dilatory to the public, until they became dangerous to themselves.

Although the facilities of transit were manifestly deficient; although the barges employed to carry goods often got aground, and were sometimes wrecked by storms; though for ten days during summer the canals were closed; although in very severe winters they were frozen up for weeks, yet they established a rotation by which they sent as much or as little as suited them, and shipped it how or when they pleased. They held levees, attended by crowds, who, admitted one by one, almost implored them to forward their goods. One firm was thus limited by the supreme wisdom of the canal managers to sixty or seventy bags a day. The effects were really disastrous: mills stood still for want of material; machines were stopped for lack of food. Of 5,000 feet of pine timber required in Manchester by one house, 2,000 remained unshipped from November 1824, to March 1825. Every large concern was compelled to keep an extra clerk, in consequence of the scarcity of conveyance. In addition to the difficulty of conveying at all, another feature was the extreme slowness of communication. The average time of one company was four days, of another thirty-six hours; and it is on record that it sometimes occupied a longer period from Liverpool to Manchester, than now from Liverpool to New York, while the commodity, although conveyed across the Atlantic in twenty-one days, was often kept six weeks in the docks and warehouses of Liverpool before it could be conveyed to Manchester. I took so much for you yesterday, and I can only take so much to-day,' was the reply when an urgent demand was made. One company would not take timber at all; another would only take a particular sort; a third extended its -prohibitions to wheat. A peculiar kind of cotton was objected to by all, because it was of great bulk. They limited the quantity; they appointed the time, until the difficulties of transit became a public talk, and the abuse of power a public trouble. The Exchange of Liverpool resounded with merchants' complaints; the counting-houses of Manchester re-echoed the murmurs of manufacturers."

By way of antithesis to the above, we will instance a few examples of the present system. “A gentleman left Manchester in the morning, went to Liverpool, thirty miles off, purchased and took back with him to Manchester on the railway, 150 tons of cotton. This he immediately disposed of, and the article being liked, an offer was made to take another such quantity. Off he starts again, and actually, that evening, delivered the second 150 tons, having travelled 120 miles in four separate journeys, and bought, sold, and delivered, thirty miles off, at two distinct consecutive deliveries, 300 tons of goods in about twelve hours."

In another instance, “A merchant of Manchester wanted 1,500 pieces of printed calico, of a particular description, in three colours, to be sent off the next day to America. Not finding them at any of the warehouses, he went to Harpurhey, to Mr. Lockett's, who had nothing of the kind wanted; this was at five in the evening, and it was necessary to have the goods in Manchester the next day before one, to go by the railway to Liverpool. Mr. Alsop, who is at the head of Mr. Lockett's establishment, said he was willing to undertake the order at his own risk. He did so; the pieces were printed in three colours, dyed, glazed, packed, and sent off to Manchester by twelve o'clock: they reached Liverpool at three, were put on board, and the vessel sailed at five, just twenty-four hours after the order was given!" In a third instance, "A manufacturer had some cotton dispatched from Liverpool, on a Friday morning at three o'clock, and before eleven it had passed through the several operations of mixing, scutching, carding, drawing, slubbing, roving, and spinning. It was afterwards woven, and at half-past four a considerable quantity of good shirting cloth was forwarded to Liverpool, which it reached at seven o'clock the same evening. Thus the same cotton went through all the processes of manufacture, from the raw fabric to the woven cloth, and travelled above eighty miles between three in the morning and seven in the evening. The manufacturer wore the same evening a garment made from this cloth; thus exemplifying the incalculable advantages of the railway system, and other facilities for the extraordinary despatch of business.

Manchester, as the centre of the manufacturing district, contains within itself between two and three hundred factories, appropriated to cotton fabrics. There are, however, nearly 3,000 factories in the district, and every year is adding to their number. These arc principally distributed in the towns of Stockport, Ashton, Hyde, Newton, Glossop, Dukinfield, Stalybridge, Oldham, Rochdale, Heywood, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Leigh, Chorley, Warrington, Prescott, Ormskirk, and other localities of less note, besides the innumerable valleys where contiguity to railways or canals render the situations eligible, are now occupied by factories. The ecclesiastics of old distinguished themselves in the selection of well watered and picturesque valleys for their edifices; and certainly on the borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire the country manufacturers seem as though they had tried to rival their monastic predecessors in this respect, though with a very different and more significant effect, for the exalted strains of devotion are now exchanged for the thunders of innumerable engines and machinery. We need not here enumerate the various railways, suffice it to say, that Manchester has more stations, and greater railway accommodation than any other locality in the kingdom; and that it is impossible to enter it from scarcely any quarter without passing under or over a railway. The ramifications and branches throughout the whole district are equally efficient, and most of the principal collieries have connecting lines to them. The cotton, having now arrived by railway, is transferred to the factory; but before entering into description, it is necessary to premise some of the forms and purposes of cotton. There are factories where cotton is spun into sewing thread this forms one class. Another class produces that kind of yarn which is called by high numbers, denoting the number of yards to a pound, and is generally extremely fine. A third class manufacture only “twist," or a strong yarn.

Both in Manchester and the district this latter class greatly preponderates. Some do not weave it into cloth, but still a large proportion have immense numbers of power-looms for the purpose. On the other hand there are many factories where nothing but weaving is carried on, the warp and the weft being originally bought by the weaver from the spinner. Then again there are further modifications, such as those establishments which produce fustians, moleskins, velveteens, muslins, cotton velvets, and a host of other fabrics. And again, there are various processes carried on, such as bleaching, dying, calico-printing in various other establishments, of which our space will only permit us to give a cursory notice, but we. will now proceed to give a spirited description of a spinning and weaving factory, which appeared a few years ago in the " Penny Magazine,"-the one described is known as "Orrell's factory," now carried on by Messrs. R. Maclure and Co:- " When we come within sight of the factory, its arrangement cannot appear otherwise than striking to a stranger; for the lofty chimney is separated from the factory itself by a public road, and stands isolated on a kind of rocky mount. Being a well-formed structure, this chimney (which, but for the smoke, looks more like an honorary column than anything else) presents a fine appearance. The furnaces that supply heat to the boilers for four large steam-engines, are situated in a building at one end of the factory; and the smoke from these furnaces passes through a flue under the public road, into the chimney, which thus conveys it up into the atmosphere at a distance from the factory. When we come in front of the factory itself, we find it speckled over with windows to an enormous amount. The building extends, from end to end, nearly three hundred feet, having a centre and two projecting wings. There are six ranges of windows in height, each range giving light to one floor or story of workshops. There are nearly a hundred windows in each of these ranges on the four sides of the building; so that the whole amounts to not much fewer than six hundred. The perfect regularity with which the windows of modern factories are arranged, constitutes one of their most conspicuous features. The ground-floor is two hundred feet in depth, from front to back; but the upper floors are much less than this. Withinside the building, the extraordinary scene and deafening noise presented by the operations, are well calculated to bewilder a stranger; but of these, more anon: we will at present confine our attention to the upper floors.

There are staircases conveniently situated for gaining access to the various floors; but, besides this, there is a very ingenious arrangement for mounting to any floor without the least exertion on the part of the person ascending. There is a kind of square well, open from top to bottom of the factory, and measuring a few feet square. We place ourselves on a platform within this space, and, by pulling a rope, place the platform in connexion with certain moving machinery, by which it is carried up, supporting its load, animate or inanimate, safely. When we desire it to stop, on the level of any one of the floors, we have only to let go the rope, and the platform will stop. When we wish to descend, we pull another rope, which enables the machinery to give a reverse movement to the platform. When, having ascended either by this piece of mechanism or by the staircase, we reach any of the upper floors, we find them to consist of very long rooms, lighted on all sides by windows, and filled with machinery, so complicated and extensive, that we may well wonder how all can receive their movement from steam-engines in a remote part of the building. Yet such is the case. There are two engines for the spinning machinery, of eighty horse-power each, and two for the weaving machines (this being both a spinning and a weaving factory), of forty horse-power each. These splendid engines are supplied from six boilers; the fires for which consume more than twenty tons of coal per day; and the main-shaft from each engine is so connected with other shafts, both vertical and horizontal, as to convey motive-power to every floor, and to every machine in every floor." The foregoing description will serve to give a general idea of the factories of Manchester and the district, and though there are others on a larger scale than this, there are, perhaps, none to exceed it in completeness and efficiency of arrangements.

On the arrival of the cotton at the factory, it is generally conveyed to the topmost floor, where the bags are emptied. The cotton is in matted lumps, with the fibres clotted and tangled together; it is then subjected to the action of the "willow," or hollow box, which is stuck full of spikes, whereby it is torn fibre from fibre, and detaches the dirt and impurities, which are allowed to fall through an open wire screen. The workmen, with technical expressiveness, apply the term "devil" to this boisterous, racketty machine, which seems to know no obstacle in its operation. A further process of clearing is exemplified in the next process, that of "scutching" or "blowing," by which the cotton is beaten with flat bars, and, by an admirable blowing apparatus, the remaining dust is carried out of the building without coming in contact with either people or machinery.

The next mechanical process consists of beautiful contrivances for placing the fibres alongside each other, after which it is subjected to the action of the "carding engine," consisting of cylinders covered with innumerable wire teeth, which, revolving in opposite directions, comb the cotton and divest it of all irregularities, It then becomes spread into narrow, flattish, band-like portions, called "slivers” the fibres being ranged nearly parallel. The "slivers" are then brought into the "drawing" machine, in which there are several pairs of rollers which compress and elongate the "slivers;" they are then doubled and passed through the rollers again, and this process is repeated till the fibres are ranged more parallel, and more equally distributed than before. It is then placed in the " roving" machine, where it is very slightly twisted into the form of a cord, but so slightly as only just to hold together. It is then finally put in the various spinning machines - the machines on which Arkwright, Hargreaves, and Crompton have expended so much time and thought. It then becomes by these machines converted into " twist," "warp," and "weft," according to the required purpose. If for “twist", it is then subjected to the minor operations of measuring, winding, sampling, and packing. If for exportation, to be woven abroad, it is packed in a very rapid and compact manner, as foreigners are better able to equal us in weaving than in spinning.

The warp and weft are then forwarded to the weaving factories; and the following description of the weaving room at Orrell's factory, from the "Penny Magazine," will illustrate this process. " Thirteen hundred looms, each one a distinct and complete piece of mechanism, are here arranged in parallel rows, over a space of ground measuring probably two hundred and and fifty feet by one hundred and fifty; having passages between the rows. Each loom is between three and four feet high, and perhaps five or six wide; and they are all so placed that one female can attend to two looms. Every loom receives its moving power from mechanism near the ceiling, where shafts and wheels present almost as complex an assemblage as the looms below them. These shafts are connected with the main-shafts of the two smaller steam-engines, so as to receive their moving power from thence. Six hundred and fifty females are here engaged in attending these looms, two to each, and these comprise almost the only occupants of the weaving-rooms. The noise created by thirteen hundred machines, each consisting of a great number of distinct moving parts, and each producing, what would in an ordinary-sized shop be considered a pretty vigorous din, is so stunning and confounding, that a stranger finds it almost utterly impossible to hear a person speak to him, even close at his elbow, or even to hear himself speak; he walks along the avenues which separate the rows of looms, and arrives one after another, at looms all exactly alike: he sees these clattering, hard-working machines on all sides of him, with the heads of the six hundred and fifty females just visible above them; and he may not unreasonably marvel that the persons exposed to this incessant uproar for ten or twelve hours a day can appear indifferent to it. Yet such is the case: habit smooths away the inconvenience, and the workpeople seem to think light of it. In these power-looms steam power may be said to do every thing. It unwinds the warp from the warp-beam, it lifts and depresses the treadles, by which the warp-threads are placed in the proper position for receiving the weft-threads; it throws the shuttle from side to side, carrying the weft-thread with it; it moves the batten, or lay, by which the weft-thread is driven up close; and finally, it winds the woven cloth on the cloth-beam which is to receive it. The female who has to manage a pair of looms has merely to attend to a few minor adjustments, which altogether about occupy her tune: such as mending any of the threads which may have been broken, removing an empty shuttle and replacing it with a full one, removing an empty warp-beam; or a filled clothbeam, and replacing them with others fitted for continuing the process."

The capabilities of a cotton will are thus described by Mr. Farey, in his "Treatise on the Steam Engine." He says, "An extensive cotton mill is a striking instance of the application of the greatest powers to perform a prodigious quantity of light and easy work. A steam engine of 100 horse power, which has the strength of 880 men, gives a rapid motion to 50,000 spindles for spinning fine cotton threads; each spindle forms a separate thread, and the whole number work together in an immense building erected on purpose and adapted to receive the machines so that no room is lost. Seven hundred and fifty people are sufficient to attend all the operations of such a cotton mill; and by the assistance of the steam engine they will be enabled to spin as much thread as 200,000 persons could do without machinery, or one person can do as much as 266. The engine itself only requires two men to attend it and supply it with fuel. Each spindle in a mill will produce between two and a half and three hanks (of 840 yards) per day; which is upwards of a mile and a quarter of thread in twelve hours; so that the 50,000 spindles will produce 62,500 miles of thread every day of twelve hours - which is more than a sufficient length to go two and a half times round the globe."

There are also a large number of factories in which yarn is woven into some one of the many varieties of pile or napped products, such as "cotton velvet," "velveteen," “fustian" or "moleskin;" and here there are other contrivances besides the mere weaving machinery: for the method of cutting the pile, or making a smooth-napped surface requires the aid of very delicate and ingeninusly-constructed instruments. The hand-loom is, in fancy goods, more used than the power-loom; yet every year does the number of power-looms increase! Six years ago there were 150,000, and in this empire now the number probably exceeds 220,000. After leaving the loom, the cloth then goes through the minor operations of cleaning, stiffening, finishing, and folding. In the stiffening process, an incredible quantity of flour is consumed. The cloth is now ready for sale, and after-wards goes into the hands of the bleacher, dyer, or the calico printer, to whose establishments we shall now allude.

Bleach, Print and Dye Works

In these establishments, chemistry is the principal agent which effects the beautiful changes in manufactured fabrics; and, as pure air and water are indispensable for well- developed chemical action, works of this description are generally situated at distances round Manchester. These works present a very different appearance to that of the factories we have just been describing. A multitude of low buildings, somewhat scattered, with a number of tall chimneys rising from them, and the presence of a reservoir or large stream, form the characteristic appearance of such establishments. If they are not so striking to the eye, they at least amply interest the mind from their wonderful combinations of chemical and mechanical science to produce the required effects in the various fabrics.

Many of these works are situated in a district north and west of Manchester, was anciently known by the name of the forest of Rosendale; and, by way of illustration of the change which the march of science has made in the country and the inhabitants, we may quote the following extract from Dr. Cooke Taylor's " Notes of a Tour in the Manufacturing Districts," wherein he states that "the forest or ancient chase of Rosendale contains an area of twenty-four square miles. In the early part of the sixteenth century the inhabitants consisted of eighty souls, residing in booths. The forest was disforested; the land became apportioned, demised, and let for terms of years, or by copy of court-roll. Upon the introduction of the woollen manufacture in the north of England, the foresters of Rosendale did not long continue to expend the whole of their energies upon the cultivation of a sterile soil; they entered with avidity into this branch of industry, and have pursued it for a very long period with a remarkable degree of success.

About forty-five (now fifty) years ago the cotton manufacture was first introduced, and now threatens, in its extent, to surpass the woollen trade; so that the forest is now possessed of both these sources of employment upon a very large scale. The people have become multiplied from the original census of 80 souls, to upwards of 21,080. They have usually enjoyed an abundance of regular and well-paid employment; the scale of their comforts have gradually improved, and the numbers of their schools and places of worship may be taken as evidence that their intelligence, their religious, moral, and social standing, have steadily advanced. The manufacturers and merchants of Rosendale have ever been distinguished for enterprise and ability, and their intercourse may be said to have extended to every mercantile country in in the world."

Mr. Ashworth, in an able paper on the statistics of Lancashire industry, speaks of the Rosendale foresters and their forest in somewhat similar terms:- "In this otherwise unpromising locality, manufactures and commerce have found a genial soil. In the hands of this race of people, the sciences of mechanics and chemistry have been applied to manufacturing industry with a practical intelligence previously unknown. Steam power has been introduced and successfully applied to all the varied forms of mechanical invention. Those rivers, remembered for the obstructions they once presented to monarchical and military aggression, are now directed to the propelling of machinery: they are lending their aid in the bleaching, dying, and printing, of all fabrics, and assist in many other manufacturing and mercantile services."

After leaving the factory, the next process in preparing the cloth is bleaching. Up to the end of the last century it was necessary to have bleach fields, and to expose the woven pieces on the grass for many months to bleach it; or else to send it to Holland in the spring of the year, and to receive it back in the autumn after a lengthened exposure on the level grassy plains of that country. Now, what a change has taken place! What with the loss of time and the loss of interest on capital thus lying inactive on the bleach grounds, and the many depredations committed, the necessity for a change became inevitable, and accordingly engaged successively the energies and genius of Holme, Scheele, Berthollet, Henry, and lastly Mr. Tennant, of Glasgow, who have triumphantly brought chemical agencies to hear on this process, and "grey cloth" can now be as effectually bleached in a few hours as it formerly took many months.

The process of bleaching may be thus described:-The pieces of grey cloth, as the cotton cloth is termed when it comes direct from the factories, are then slightly fastened together by a machine, which performs the operation of stitching or tacking until a connected length of many hundred yards is produced, which is then passed over a heated surface of copper, whereby the little loose filaments are singed off. This being done, these large pieces are then further tacked together till they become seven or eight miles in length. This enormous length is then made, by means of cylinders and drums, to go through the following different processes by machinery for the purpose, working in the various vessels:-First, to divest it of all starch-flour size, used at the factories, it under-goes a thorough washing; then it is boiled in lime water; then it undergoes a second washing; then it is steeped in a dilution of sulphuric acid; then it undergoes a third washing; then it is boiled in a solution of soda; then it undergoes a fourth washing; then it is steeped in a solution of bleaching powder, and then again in dilute sulphuric acid; then it undergoes a fifth washing; then it is boiled again in a solution of soda; then it undergoes a sixth washing; then it is steeped again in the bleaching liquid, and afterwards in the dilute sulphuric acid; and then finally washed for the seventh time.

The rapidity, precision, and efficiency of these processes are truly astonishing; and the cloth, which was originally of a nankeen grey colour, is now of a fine white. Well may we marvel at the advance on the old tedious process of the last century, when we reflect that one pound of bleaching powder will serve for nearly a mile of cloth, and it is not improbable that the use of other chemical appliances, yet to be discovered, may considerably abbreviate the preceding operations. After being unpacked into its original pieces, the next process is calendering, or finishing; but this is not always required. This is done by passing the cloth between the cylinders, heated with steam, and at the same time an enormous pressure is exerted on the cloth. This imparts to it a glossy finish and brilliancy of surface. It is then ready for either the dying or finishing process. In the former it has to be steeped in certain solutions of colours derived either from organic and inorganic substances; these again have to be steeped in what are termed "mordants," or other solutions of acids which have the effects of fastening, heightening, and brightening the colours. Further steeping in different mordants will effect further changes of colour, till the desired effect is produced; they are then calendered and packed for conveyance to the purchasers.

The process of calico printing is, however, far more complicated, and exhibits a more mingled display of machinery and chemistry. The colours required for this process have to be mixed to a certain consistency; and different establishments have different methods of producing the same effect. Under the old system, a table or bench, with a roller at each end, was used, so that the cloth could be passed from one to the other as it was printed. The printer had an apparatus beside him for equalizing the supply of colouring matter; he applied his block, upon which was engraved the particular pattern to this colour; laid the block on the piece, and with a smart blow of a mallet gave the required pattern; each separate colour, however, requiring as many separate blocks and operations. This is now, however, entirely superseded by machinery. Printing machines capable of printing three, four, five, six, and even more colours at a time are now used. For this purpose, the patterns are engraved on copper rollers, and the part intended to show in the pattern is etched out. The rollers are then put into the machine in connexion with a trough of colouring matter, the under edge of which being pressed tightly to the roller, allows only engraved portions of its surface to pass with the colour in them; and afterwards, as the cloth is pressed against the engraved roller by a cylinder, which causes the cloth to absorb the colour from the engraved insterstices of the copper roller, and thus acquires the intended pattern. The colours, however, are dull, and in some instances indistinct; but by means of steeping in various solutions and mordants, the colours become fast if required, or acquire a greater depth of colour and brilliancy. The pieces are then hung up in rooms, erected for the purpose of being “oxydized" or exposed to the action of the atmosphere, which still further adds to their effect. They then have to go through the final process of calendering, and are afterwards sent to the purchaser. The patterns for the home market are generally indefinite, consisting of stripes, spots, curves, scroll work, &c., bearing no resemblance to any particular object. The South American market calls for the most gorgeous assemblage of colours and the most glaring that the dyer and printer can give, without any particular regard for pattern. The Persian market and the East require gaudy prints, of which blue and yellow predominate, of forms of scroll work resembling those on shawls, &c. The Chinese market requires exact copies of natural objects - such as birds, buds, flowers, trees - without any attempt at perspective. For the German market, the printer finds it to his interest to produce pictorial subjects, such as copies from pictures or views of existing places, without any regard to splendour of colour and strong contrast. The branch of calico printing has increased from year to year at an amazing rate; at the commencement of the present century, it was only about 30 millions of yards, now it is about 750 millions of yards.

As may readily be supposed, enormous sums are spent in the print and dye-works in Manchester and the district, in designing patterns for prints, &c , and in experiments with the view of discovering improved chemical appliances in the various processes. All the patterns are drawn on paper, and if approved are then transferred to blocks and cylinders, according to the mode of printing. The maintenance of pattern designers at these establishments forms a costly item in the year's expenditure. A few years ago, when the House of Commons instituted a committee to investigate the desirability of the Copyright of Designs Act, much curious evidence was adduced with respect to pattern designing in Manchester. Mr. Salis Schwabe, a gentleman largely engaged in the silk manufacture, stated that in the year 1838 he had between two and three thousand patterns designed, of which only about five hundred were selected for engraving; and that the whole of the patterns, in engraving and designing, cost more than £5,000 within the year. Mr. Schwabe further stated, in illustration of the uncertainty that marks all matters of taste, that of the 500 designs which were selected as being likely to sell, only 100 were decidedly successful. Accidents have often suggested designs and discoveries far more felicitous than strained ingenuity; and as an instance it may be mentioned among others, that in one establishment while the printing was going on, a part of the cloth became disarranged, so as to be printed a second time but in a different direction, the effect of which was so novel and pleasing as to suggest a new pattern, which was one of the most successful of any hitherto produced.

Mr. Baines is fully justified in saying, that " The large print-works of Lancashire are among the most interesting manufactories that can be visited. Several of the proprietors or managers are scientific men; and being also persons of large capital, they have the most perfect machinery and the best furnished laboratories. All the processes through which the cloth has to pass, from the state in which it is left by the weaver, till it is made up a finished print, ready for the foreign or home market, are performed in -these extensive establishments, The bleaching, the block-printing, the cylinder-printing, the dyeing, the engraving (both of blocks and cylinders), the designing of patterns, and the preparation of colours,-all go on within the same enclosure. Some of the print-works employ as many as a thousand workpeople. The order and cleanliness of the works, and the remarkable beauty of most of the operations, impress the visitor with admiration and surprise. A printing establishment, like a cotton mill, is a wonderful triumph of modern science; and when the mechanical and chemical improvements of both are viewed together, they form a matchless exhibition of science applied to the arts, and easily account for a rapidity of growth and a vastness of extension in the manufacture which has no parallel in the records of industry.'

The Warehouses

We have thus traced the progress of the cotton through the processes of spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing, and printing; and we must now speak of its various destinations. Almost every nation possessing any degree of civilization and commerce, has its individual representatives in Manchester. There are several large houses connected with the American trade of course, and many English houses who export Manchester goods to every part of the vast continents of the western hemisphere. But of all classes of foreign residents, the Germans and Greeks are the most numerous. The close-buying of foreigners, and their enormous profits, has frequently been a subject of much speculation and remark. Accordingly, we find that now that our export trade is principally conducted by foreigners, very few of the calico printers will work for stock. They take their orders from the foreign houses, who buy their cloth of the manufacturers, and then forward it to the print works to receive the desired pattern; and which being executed, they are packed at the various warehouses and dispatched to the different ports for shipment to their destinations. The Germans make their shipments principally to Germany, France, and other parts of the European continent; some of them, however, export largely to other parts of the world, but the Greeks principally confine their-shipments to Turkey, South Russia, the whole of Asia Minor, Persia, Egypt, Arabia, and the East. Other houses export largely to India, China, Australia, the Eastern Archipelago, and the islands of the Pacific.

Another class of warehouses are those who confine them-selves to the " home trade," and from whom the country and metropolitan houses buy their goods.-Accordingly, we find that in the warehouses of Manchester the nicest and most systematic order prevails. The lightest goods and those requiring the most light for inspection, are generally placed in the upper stories, and the heavier goods in the lower ones. Each floor or storey is divided into "departments," over which there is a foreman placed with a number of assistants or salesmen. The buyers walk from department to department and from floor to floor, and as they purchase, the goods are sent down (usually by a hoist) into the packing room, where they are duly invoiced, re-examined for correctness, packed up, and despatched by conveyance to their destination, with a celerity truly astonishing. Mr. Kohl, who visited several of the warehouses, appears to have been struck with their admirable arrangements and methods of business, and thus expresses himself:- "Every country has its particular partialities in the goods it purchases; or, as the Belfast merchants say, 'every market has its whim.' The speculating merchant must always be well acquainted with these, no less than with the real wants and customs of each nation. From the Manchester warehouses, great quantities of black cloth are annually sent to Italy, in order to clothe the innumerable priests of that country; but this black cloth must always be of a particular coal black, without the slightest tinge of brown or blue. Goods must also be packed differently for different nations; thus, at Messrs. Potters' I saw bales of cotton intended for China, packed in the Chinese manner, and decorated with bright tasteful little pictures, representing Chinese customs, ceremonies, &c. Nor must the manner of transport used in the interior of the countries for which they are intended be forgotten in the packing of the goods. Wares to be carried on the backs of elephants, camels, or llamas, must be differently packed from those to be conveyed by wagons, canals, or railways."

Again he further remarks: “As the wares contained in the great bales, some of which weigh more than fifteen hundred weight, are often of a very miscellaneous kind, little pattern books are sent off with each bale, containing not only the quantity, quality, price, &c. of the different goods, but a neat little specimen of each. Thus the foreign merchant, on receiving his bale of goods, need not take the trouble of unpacking it, but need only turn over the instructive and entertaining pages of the elegant little pattern book, to settle and direct the further destination of what it contains. Duplicate copies of all these little pattern books are kept at the warehouse, with names and dates at full; and these are, after a time, bound up in great folio volumes, with all their specimens complete. These volumes, all ranged in order on their shelves, form a considerable library in many warehouses."

Of these pattern books, Mr. Kohl further exemplifies their utility by the relation of the following incident: " A South American merchant had ordered a quantity of cotton goods of a particular pattern, from a house in Manchester; and they were sent him as directed. After some years, this merchant wrote back, that the wares he had received had been of a bad quality. All his customers had complained of the cotton; for, after a short time, innumerable little holes had appeared all over it, and it had thus become useless. This the merchant attributed to 'some fault in its preparation at Manchester; and he now demanded recompense from his Manchester correspondent for the great damage he had sustained in his business. The Manchester merchant turned back to his pattern book for that date, and found the patterns therein quite whole and uninjured. He now presented these before the proper tribunal, and also procured testimonies from several persons in England who had used the cotton in question, showing that no traces of similar decay had been observed. A number of experiments were now made upon the cotton; and it was at last discovered that the pattern, although durable enough in the cold damp climate of England, could not stand the intense heat of Brazil; because a certain little green blossom occurring very frequently in the pattern, had been dyed with a preparation capable of being chemically affected and injured by intense heat, and had thus occasioned the little holes complained of. As, however, this discovery had never been made before, and the cotton had been sent as ordered, the Manchester house was exonerated from all blame.

In the following case the result was different. An Asiatic merchant wrote that the woollen cloth he had received was covered with little brown specks, which materially injured its appearance and value. The patterns were examined, but no similar spots were found, Experiment, however, soon proved that the cloth when sent off, must have still contained a considerable quantity of animal fat, front which the manufacturers had not sufficiently purified it. The tremendous pressure to which the cloth was subjected in its bales, had squeezed out this fat in the shape of brown spots on the surface. The manufacturer bore the blame, and had to pay the loss of both merchants." Mr. Kohl remarks, what would naturally suggest itself to an acute observer, that these Manchester pattern-books form a striking series of witnesses to the vanity, refinement, and caprice of the world, in the nature of its whims, as to this one article of cotton. Perpetually is the fashion of the various markets changing as to colour, pattern, quality, and packing."

We have before spoken of the foreign houses, and their system of purchases from speculation, as well as that class who buy agreeable to their advices from abroad. Those houses who buy on speculation for shipment, are remarkable for their vigilance and caution. Mr. Knight remarks that - No politician marks with more attention than a Manchester merchant the aspect of foreign affairs. Does the Scindian, or the Affghan, or the Sikh war endanger the commercial navigation of the Indus - he guesses at a glance how it will affect his exports to the east: does China turn restive, and threaten the “barbarian" English - he regulates his shipments accordingly: does the reduction of the tariff`, or the repeal of the corn laws, or the suspension of the navigation laws, seem likely to open the portals of international communication yet more widely - he has his cargo of goods ready almost as soon as the news reaches him: does the navigator discover some new inland region-presently does the Manchester man set about inducing the natives to wear some of his cottons, and if they cannot give money he will contrive to get something else in exchange. The mariner, the missionary, and the merchant-all are working to the same end, all open to us new scenes of enterprise: their professed objects differ widely, and their modes of proceeding differ as widely,-but the result is to bring all the ends of the earth nearer together, and to make known to us the riches and the wants of distant lands.

Notwithstanding the vast chain-work of roads, canals, and railways, connecting Manchester with Liverpool, the men of the former town have still a hankering for something more in this respect. They want to see a ship actually sail up to this town. They would have Manchester a port, to which cotton ships and other ships could have access without the aid of the Liverpool dealer or broker. But, how to effect this? ‘Any improvement,' said Mr. Fairbairn, a few years ago, ‘which would enable vessels of 100 or 500 tons burthen to discharge their cargoes in a commodious wet dock at Hulme (one of the suburbs of Manchester), would form an epoch of such magnitude in the history of Manchester as would quadruple her population, and render her the first as well as the most enterprising city in Europe: The improvement of the Mersey and Irwell navigation is the operation by which some such advancement is looked for; but whether this can be done, by deepening and widening, to an extent adequate to the requirements of the case, remains to be shown. Unless vessels could be accommodated of sufficient magnitude to cross the Atlantic and Pacific, the main object in view would not be attained.

Two or three years ago, when railway speculation was running wild, it project was started for a ship-railway from Manchester to Liverpool, by which a track was to be laid down, broad enough to put any other `broad-gauge' to the blush; and on this double rail was to be placed an enormous cradle, large enough to hold a laden ship, which was then to be dragged along by locomotives! Our engineers and machinists have so repeatedly over. turned many seemingly-wise predictions, that it is not now safe to talk learnedly about what can or what can not be done: we must therefore wait and marvel. Be the modes of conveyance from Manchester to Liverpool what they may - road, canal, river, railway, or ship-railway - Liverpool is the great port whence Manchester goods are shipped for foreign markets. The `packers' of Manchester exercise a very peculiar art, in compressing the finished goods into a compact and dense form. This is an important process; for not only is space saved on shipboard by close packing, but the goods are less liable to be injured by the access of sea water. So wonderfully great is the quantity of merchandize thus despatched, that not only is a hydraulic press employed to condense the bales into the smallest possible space, but a steam engine is even employed to work the hydraulic press - an exertion of power within power singularly efficient."

The same facilities which are afforded for the transit of the raw material to Manchester, are again called into requisition for the conveyance of the manufactured merchandize to foreign destinations. The carrying system of Manchester in connexion with the vast network of railways that surround it is of unusual magnitude. The carriers have large establishments at all the railway stations in the town, and warehouses for the reception of every kind of merchandize, all of which exhibit scenes of bustle and activity. They possess also central offices in the town for the reception of messages, small parcels, &c. Innumerable lorries, drays, and carts parade the streets, collecting bales of goods for conveyance; and such is the promptitude with which they are despatched to the respective ports for shipment, that a large number of luggage trains run throughout the night on the various lines, and in many instances far exceed in number those running in the day time. An inspection of the carriers' establishments at the various stations will repay a visit.

See Also


Sources of Information