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Who Were the Luddites?

The Impact of the Industrial Revolution

The Luddites could not stop the march of the Industrial Revolution and cottage industries like those in the Colne Valley gradually declined as workers were forced to earn their money by working in the mills, rather than in the family business.  The mills brought all the processes of spinning and weaving under one roof, and with the use of machines, sped up production.  This meant that mill made cloth was cheaper to produce than that made by cottage industries.


Children as young as five joined the adults working long hours in the mills under often dangerous conditions.  As the Industrial Revolution progressed and more machines were developed and improved, mill and factory owners became rich.  Skilled workers who had formerly been able to make their own living were forced to accept the low wages and long hours working in the mills.  Unemployment also became a problem, as, only a few workers were needed to run big machines.


Steam power also brought changes to the landscape, with large mills dominating the Colne Valley rows of terraced cottages built to house the mill workforce.  Railways were beginning to be laid, with the line through Colne Valley to Manchester completed in 1849.  Goods that could now be made faster by machines in the factories, could also now be transported at a fraction of the time it took before, opening up new markets. 


Family life, working practices, communities and the landscape were changed forever.