THE inventor of the Spinning Jenny, James Hargreaves, has a very special place in the history of the cotton industry. Together with the fly-shuttle, invented by John Kay, the Spinning Jenny made Lancashire one of the most important counties in the United Kingdom.
Hargreaves was a weaver at Stanhill and was described as a plain, industrious but illiterate man with little or no mechanical talent. His first machine was made almost wholly with a pocket knife. It contained eight spindles and the clasp by which the thread was drawn out was fashioned from the stalk of a briar split in two.
In 1764 Hargreaves lived in a cottage at Stanhill and up to 1767 made several of his 'Jennies' and privately sold some of them to his neighbours. But when it was realised that the new machines were likely to come into common use, threatening good old-fashioned labour, people became antagonistic towards their inventor.
Robert Peel's new spinning mill at Brookside has bee supplied with Jennies and it was feared it would drive labour out of the market. Resentment reached such a pitch that in 1768 Hargreaves was driven out of his cottage in Stanhill, now the Post Office, by an infuriated mob who smashed up his home, forcing him to move elsewhere. Moving on from Stanhill, the rioters then went the half-a-mile to Brookside mill, which they also proceeded to wreck.
Hargreaves died on 22 April 1778.Textile machinery was also produced here, most notably at Howard and Bullough's, whose factory dominated the Accrington skyline. It became one of the country's largest manufacturers with much of its export trade being distributed by waterway on the Leeds-Liverpool canal.
Luckily, Hyndburn did not have to rely wholly on textiles for its prosperity. Because of the fact that the underlying clay in the area is ideal for brickmaking, Nori brick - names back to front because it was "hard as iron" - built an empire here, with its bricks, famous for strength, finish and colour, being used across the world.
Besides textiles and bricks, Hyndburn has produced a wide variety of other goods, ranging from Ewbank's washing machines and carpet sweepers, through Blake's Hydraulic ram - a means of pumping water from rivers and streams without power - to Dr Lovelace's floating soap.
Great Harwood was the home of John Mercer, one of the country's first textile chemists. He developed processes for dyeing and stabilising cloth and in his spare time, 150 years ago, produced some of the earlier coloured photographs. His achievements are honoured in the shape of the town centre clock tower in Towngate and the Mercer Hall Leisure Centre on Queen Street.
Meanwhile, Oswaldtwistle has been an industrial area for more than 200 years. The Foxhill Bank Nature Reserve stands on the site of the old textile print works. The family of Sir Robert Peel, the famous politician, also lived in Stanhill until making their fortune from their cloth printing works in Church.
Coal was another important local industry, with some remains still at Oswaldtwistle where the Aspen Coke Ovens, known as the Fairy Caves, stand. Several chemical works were also established near the canal to supply textile printers, with only William Blythe's remaining.