Homage to Lancashire: The Cotton Industry, 1945-65.

Singleton, John (1986) Homage to Lancashire: The Cotton Industry, 1945-65. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis analyzes the fortunes of the U.K. cotton industry during two sharply contrasting periods: 1945-51 and 1951-65. Chapters are devoted to government policy, investment, labour practices, collusive agreements, and changes in the structure of the industry. During World War Two British cotton textile production was concentrated in a nucleus of mills. After the war output and exports expanded within the constraints set by a chronic shortage of labour. In the late 1940s the Attlee government regarded cotton as a spearhead of the national export drive, and the temporary elimination of Japanese competition ensured that cloth woven in Lancashire was in high demand throughout the world. By the early 1950s Japan's cotton industry was fully recovered from its wartime depredations, while India, Hong Kong, and Pakistan were rapidly emerging as major exporters of cotton textiles. Lancashire's fate was sealed. Decline continued unabated until the remnants of the industry were absorbed by the man-made fibre producers during the 1960s. 'Homage to Lancashire' places the decline of the cotton industry within the context of British de-industrialization. Britain was the technological leader in textiles when the industry was established in the late eighteenth century. By the mid twentieth century most countries had access to the same technology as Britain. Consequently the centre of gravity of the cotton industry passed to Asia with its lower labour costs. The tragedy is that this did not happen earlier. 200,000 workers were employed in Lancashire's mills during the 1950s, representing a serious misallocation of resources, and illustrating Britain's failure to secure an expeditious transfer of factors of production from declining industries to those with a long-term future.

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02 May 2019 16:35
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12 Sep 2023 00:35