Oldham Historical Research Group

Scan and page transcript from:
LANCASHIRE - Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes
by Leo H. Grindon
Pub. 1892

Oldham Historical Research Group - LANCASHIRE - Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes by by Leo H. Grindon  Pub. 1892

pages 172-173

172                 Illustrations of Lancashire

Every master of common-sense understands the principle, and does so pay. It may be useful to remind the reader that the profits made by a Lancashire "cotton-lord" differ totally in their composition from the payment received for his work by an artist, a physician, or a barrister. The cotton-manufacturer's pronts consist of an infinite number of particles, an atom per head on the work of 500, and often 1,000 assistants. To the outside and afar-off public, who hear of contentions over pennies, the sum seems nothing, and the man who refuses the penny a sordid fellow. But to the employer it very soon means hundreds of pounds, and represents perhaps half a year's income.
In Lancashire, whatever may be the case elsewhere, the people who "strike" are deceived in no slight measure through their own honesty and sincerity of purpose. One of the original characteristics of the county is to be fair and unsuspecting; no people in the world have a stronger dislike of deceit; one of the reasons why a genuine Lancashireman can usually be trusted is, that he is so little inclined to overstate or misrepresent. The very circumstance that wins our esteem thus renders him vulnerable. Disposed to be honest themselves, the operatives fall so much more readily a prey

Peculiarities                173

to unscrupulous agitators. It is amusing, at the same time, to note how soon, when he detects an impostor, a Lancashire man will put him out of countenance, and how quick he is, in excellent balance, to perceive the meritorious, either in person or subject, and, perceiving, to appreciate.
A remarkable instance of the promotion of strikes by mischief-makers occurred at the commencement of the spring of 1881, when the colliers stood out for six weeks, at a loss to themselves of no less £250,000 in wages, such as otherwise they would have earned. The chairman of the London and North-Western Railway Company explained it at the shareholders meeting on 24thJuly, pointing out at the same time the immense collateral harm inflicted:

"They might remember that at the beginning of the year there was a settlement made with the colliers of Lancashire and their employers with regard to a mutual insurance fund against accident; but a Member of Parliament went down and persuaded these poor, unhappy people that they had better not accept it, but take care of themselves. He also persuaded them to make a strike, the result of which was disaster to every one. Prices did not go up, and unless prices went up wages could not; and the men afterwards suffered great distress. From this cause they estimated that the Company had lost traflic to the amount of about £100,000"

Another result was the permanent loss of an important market to the local colliery proprie-

link to home page
Oldham in Gazetteers link
From the archives link
link to members' pages
link to News
link to miscellaneous pages
links page