Thursday, May 24, 2012

David Edgerton's 'mule spinners' and my grannie's lifelong optimistic disposition

    My father's mother, May ,was born in 1900 and was 15 in 1915.
    I must say I never saw any sign that the horrors of the Great War, 1914-1918, had ever effected her much.
   I think this was because she grew into her formative teenage years under circumstances never seen before or since in Manchester England.
  Her father Eddie made his living installing mule spinners into Northern England's cotton mills and I never appreciated just how good his business was, during May's early years ,until I re-read David Edgerton's SHOCK OF THE OLD.

  Britain's cotton mill industry's output and investment peaked in 1913, just as Canada's rail industry did, and for much the same reason : Edwardian optimism that went well beyond reason and well into hubris.
   All through that era  cotton mill factories were busy adding new mule spinners, so much so that when the inevitably crash came, no new mule spinners were needed from after WWI until the industry died in the 1960s.
   Instead of replacing worn out ones with new mules, the owners simply transferred better-working ones from their's or someone else's factory to replace those deemed unrepairable.
   Further, governments and owners worked hand in glove to destroy tens and tens of thousands of perfectly good spinning mules, to reduce excess capacity.
   I can't imagine a child raised in the home of a mule-installer after WWI could ever grow up with as sunny a view of the world as my grandmother obtained during Manchester's Edwardian Era - an optimism she retained until her death in the 21st century, 103 years later....


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