The Town That Has Faith In Itself
Recently I was given a small booklet by a good friend (you know who you are), this booklet was produced by Rochdale Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers;
J & G Walkers (1920) Ltd, of Larkfield Mill.
The booklet has a few images and a wonderful map folded within its back pages and was produced presumably for promotional purposes, maybe for a salesman to hand out to prospective and/or existing customers.
Please remember that this is at a time when the industrial revolution was in full swing and Rochdale as well as many northern Towns had hundreds of manufacturing business’. Along with getting good staff, a main concern for “Mill Owners” would have been making a good impression, something we could try and do today, maybe? Instead of highlighting all the usual misgivings of any large Town or City, like constantly dragging up the errors of years gone by. We could project an image nationally that favours what makes Rochdale good and great.
The booklet is only about the size of an average mobile phone and very faded, but I found the content to be a fascinating insight into the attitude of Rochdalians of that time and wanted to share its contents. I hope you enjoy it like I did?
Rochdale is deep rooted in a historic past but it presses forward to the future. It knows that it’s Parish Church of St. Chad’s was erected in 1111a.d. and that a weekly market was granted to it by Henry VIII… but Rochdale folk are more concerned with being good ancestors to the next generation than being good descendants of their forefathers.
Nevertheless, it is this combination of old tradition and new ideas that makes Rochdale one of the most vigorous and enterprising of towns.
Look for instance at the Coat of Arms. There are the regalia of Wool and Cotton plainly set forth with the motto “Crede Signo” -“Have faith in this sign.” But Rochdale folk being better Lancastrians than Liatin-ists, have a translation of their own. Their homely translation is;
“We have faith in ourselves.”
“Faith in ourselves” – the condition of Rochdale’s industries to-day is a proof of that. Amidst much surrounding pessimism Rochdale stands for confidence. This is evidenced in the wide variety and dignity of its industries. It is seen in the bright clean appearance of the town, in the way it presses forward in every form of municipal enterprise. It is shown by the enthusiasm with which the town carries to success any project, municipal or philanthropic, needing cooperative work.
Take a glance at Rochdale as a municipality. From the beginning of the industrial revolution, when steam and machinery opened up the markets of the wide world, Rochdale’s municipal leaders have combined intense civic patriotism with the shrewdest conduct of industry. The Mayors and leaders of Rochdale have all been men of that calibre. With one hand they have built up great industries, with the other they have given Rochdale those civic ideals evidenced by it’s splendid educational system; its noble Town Hall; its efficient Health, Water, Gas, and Electricity Services; its Parks and Recreation Grounds; its housing schemes; and lastly its fine example of engineering in creating wide spaces by covering over the River Roch, which passes through the centre of the town.
What greater boon for all sections of the community is there than cheap electricity? Rochdale has not waited for the prophecy of the Electricity Board to be fulfilled, namely that electricity might be sold at 1d. per unit in 1935. Rochdale’s electricity is already down to 1d. or less per unit for power purposes, and that in itself is a contribution to industrial efficiency, and to the health of the people.
It is pulling together that does it. The Town Councillors are singularly united in their efforts to make Rochdale a pioneer among Lancashire towns.
“We have faith in ourselves”
A Great Town Hall
Rochdale town Hall is one of the finest in this country and is a sermon in stone on the motto, “Crede Signo”
Fresh from the clean moorland breeze you enter the town and drive into a great open square, on which stands the Gothic Town Hall backed by shrub covered slopes.
The Town Hall, opened in 1871 is a triumph of craftsmanship. A German Professor was asked where the finest stained glass could be found in England.
“For ancient glass go to York Minster; for modern glass go to Rochdale Town Hall”
The Main Hall has a cathedral like grandeur. The long line of Kings and Queens look down from stained glass windows, and a great painting by Henry Holiday depicting King John Signing the Magna Charta covers the whole of one wall.
Rochdale Town Hall is in spirit a Temple of Industry. Its builders were inspired by that ideal of industry expressed in words once quoted by Sanderson of Oundle –
“Mightier than Egypt’s tombs, Fairer than Grecia’s, Roma’s temples,
We plan even now to raise beyond them all,
Thy great cathedral, Sacred Industry.”
Rochdale has the distinction of being the birthplace and life-long home of John Bright, and of having been the constituency represented by Richard Cobden from 1859 until his death in 1865. Lord Byron the poet, was Lord of the Manor of Rochdale. It is also, as everyone knows, the birthplace of modern co-operation.
But Rochdale is supremely an industrial town. In variety of industry Rochdale finds the secret of stability. Besides cotton and wool there are other industries which are not mere “side-lines”, including flannelette manufacture, Calico printing, carpet weaving, leather belt manufacture, and confectionery machinery of which it is the largest maker in the world.
As a matter of fact the Flannel Industry is the oldest, dating back to the 16th century. One Rochdale Family has been making flannel for nearly 200 years.
The industry still maintains its enterprise, and by scientific adaptation to modern needs is achieving new conquests. Rochdale’s
Flannel and allied goods penetrate the two hemispheres, the tropic and torrid zone, and the Seven Seas.
Many Rochdale firms have a world-wide reputation. About 7,000 people are employed in this industry, and their relationship with their employers is marked by that harmony characteristic of Rochdale’s industrial life.
Rochdale was late coming into cotton, but when a start was made the going was good. Today Rochdale has a higher proportion of ring spindles than any other town. One firm possesses 220,000 Ring Spindles and 100,000 Doubling Spindles, and employs 3,000 workpeople. The doubling trade is well represented in the town.
Number of Cotton Firms 109
Number of Spindles 3,786,598
Doubling Spindles 125,600
Cotton looms 16,362
The reputation of these firms is very high, especially for American Yarns. In addition a very fine range of goods is woven in Rochdale, from calico to fine blouse materials. Thus one firm weaving cotton dress goods has 1,800 looms.
Also Rochdale has the largest finishing concern in the district. Knitted fabrics in wool and silk are doing well, and artificial silk is forging ahead.
Rochdale is famous as being the home of the principal producer of Asbestos goods the world over. Rochdale’s great asbestos firm is a pioneer in this vital industry. Their plant, employing about 1,500 workers, is completely equipped for dealing with the crude material, spinning the fibre and manufacturing a thousand and one vital necessities for every kind of industry.
Wood-working Machinery is another tremendous asset to Rochdale. The great firm who are both wood-working and flour milling engineers have one of the finest technical equipments in this country. It is worthy of note that most of the principal industries of Rochdale are large contractors to the Admiralty, the War Office, the Government and Foreign Governments generally at home and abroad.
Americans are usually surprised to discover that Lancashire is the greatest engineering district in the world. Rochdale contributes to Lancashire’s fame in this matter; it has eight firms at least who are supreme in their own sphere of producing textile machinery, and also the engineering accessories of the textile industry. Paper tubes for this industry are made by Rochdale firms who have the definite leadership in this line.
Electrical Engineering is a growing industry and constitutes a not unimportant feature in the town’s activities.
An Opportunity For New Industries
A progressive and well governed town such as Rochdale affords splendid opportunities for the launching of new industries. There are excellent communications by road and rail to the great centres of industry. Rochdale is on the main railway from Liverpool to Hull, and is blessed with good transport roads. The rates are below the average; the municipal services are efficient; gas and electricity for light and power are cheap; the water supply is plentiful, and labour is intelligent. These constitute all the elements of success.
New Works erected in Rochdale will have the amenity of healthy surroundings swept by moorland breezes, – and above all, the stimulus of life in a community of great industrial traditions. Firms seeking sites for New Works will receive the utmost help from the Municipal Authorities.
This then is Rochdale, the town that believes in itself. Situated strategically between Manchester, East Lancashire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire it draws life and vigour from each. Its 100,000 inhabitants are shrewd and robust, believers in dogged work, enterprising, loyal to their industry and town.
The scholars who pass annually from the finely-equipped Secondary and Technical Schools swell the ranks of some of the finest craftsmen in the world with whom thrift and work and technical skill are hereditary instincts.
In business relationships they are “jannock.” They have stored up priceless emblems of old traditions in their Town Hall, but are aware that prosperity is dependent on constant adaption to the times. They face the future with confidence because they can make the goods that are needed to-day. Giving a Lancashire idiom to their bit of old Latin – “Crede Signo” – they say to the world at large:
“Aye we have faith in ourselves – Forward, Rochdale !”