- Ben Bowker, Lancashire Under the Hammer, Epilogue, pp.126-127 (1928)
In the post-war years saw the British Government taking an ever greater role in the cotton industry, and in a desperate attempt to reverse the industry's decline encouraged greater recruitment, both at home and from overseas. Ring spinning was finally adopted in British mills in the 1950s, but British companies could simply not produce cotton cloth as cheaply as their competitors in Asia and the Far East. By 1958 the unthinkable occurred: Britain became a net importer of cotton cloth. The greatest industrial retreat in history had begun.
The Cotton Industry Act of 1959 was intended to help modernise the industry by helping to compensate cotton companies disposing of outdated machinery, but the practical effect was to scrap countless mills across Lancashire and other cotton districts, without increasing the efficiency of the industry or its competitiveness against Asian and Far Eastern competition.
During the 1960s and 70s, mills were closed across Lancashire at a rate of almost one a week. The effects on towns such as Oldham and Blackburn were severe, although the larger cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Preston had by this time, more diverse economies which were not solely dependent on the cotton industry.
By the 1980s, the industry which had once been Britain's economic flagship had sunk almost without trace, leaving in its wake a legacy of mill towns and cities which would serve as a reminder to future generations of the importance of what was once the most successful of British industries.
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