‘Hoddlesden and its satellite villages’ is a unique book that investigates rural communities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The text discovers past local communities, using case studies, and places them in a wider perspective, showing the important contribution to historiography. Indeed, the townships selected are similar to those on the fringes of many industrial urban areas elsewhere. The research uses lesser known primary sources alongside traditional sources and is presented in a readable style to provide a portrait of life at the time.
Following a survey of the way in which these communities earned a living, through a domestic industry of hand weaving and small scale farming, the commentary then describes how during late 18th century, full mechanisation provided more work, effectively expanding population and diminishing dependency on farming. Growth in the communities then continued until around the second quarter of the 19th century but was followed by rural decline in population and the communities had to find new ways to survive. The huge impact on these settlements by full mechanisation and urbanisation, later in the nineteenth century has been traced. This process sucked labour from the countryside, changing patterns of life totally. Consideration of what this meant in terms of growth, followed by decline and survival, has been demonstrated by examining the changing patterns of population, showing for example, that although many people left the villages to pursue work, significant numbers of the migrants returned to their place of birth.
The chapter on agricultural trends includes the existence and nature of farm buildings, size of holdings, family contributions to farm work and sources of farm household income. Housing is also explored, both vernacular and industrial types, family life and village life, comparing these communities with ‘factory villages’ and ‘industrial towns’.
The work challenges many traditional views regarding the countryside. The book demonstrates how detailed historical accounts can evolve using micro-history. Analysis is illustrated with photographs, maps, graphs and tables. Accounts such as this are invaluable, providing a wealth of new insight into the history of little-known localities and leaving a unique record for future generations.
The book should appeal to those with both a general and specific interest in rural industrial communities.
The book is attractively presented in hardback with stitched binding, has 240 high quality pages containing around 170 illustrations mostly in colour. Purchase price £14.99 plus p & p £3.50. ISBN; 9781904244844 Orders or enquiries may be made direct from the author: Dr. Roy Parker. PhD; Cert Ed. at Ash House, 11 Ashbank Ave; Bolton. BL3 4PX, with a remittance for £18.49.