Between 1780 and 1820 Manchester was caught in a whirlwind of change. In 1783 there was only one water powered cotton mill, that of Richard Arkwright in Shudehill.

Forty years later, huge gas lit, steam powered spinning factories dominated Manchester, heralding the new age of cotton. Cotton manufacturing created great wealth and people flooded into Manchester hoping for a share of it. This set of 12 coloured lithographs were created by J.R. Barfoot in 1840 and describe the cotton manufacturing process.

Two hundred years later the Cotton Board was set up in Manchester to oversee the research, promotion, and marketing of the cotton industry in the United Kingdom. The Cotton Board photographs and booklets from the 1940s  reveal how much some things had changed in the cotton industry – but also how much of the production process remained the same.

The Progress of Cotton No. 11: Dyeing, 1840
Spinning, 1940s

Dyeing, 1940s