The Built Environment Transformed

Textile Lancashire during the Industrial Revolution

By Geoffrey Timmins

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This book is concerned with the remarkable changes made to the built environment in Lancashire’s main textile district – essentially the eastern and central parts of the county – during the Industrial Revolution (c1780-c1850).

A case-study approach is taken, with findings from investigations at six different types of site being presented. The sites included are:

  • water-powered mill remains in the Cheesden valley, near Rochdale
  • Barrow Bridge factory village, near Bolton
  • the former handloom weavers’ colony at Club Houses, Horwich
  • Preston’s Winckley Square
  • Eanam wharf at Blackburn
  • and, to the north of Bolton, the road between Bromley Cross and Edgworth.

The case studies show how, in rural and urban areas alike, developments in industry, housing and transport greatly extended the built environment and brought striking new features to it. Emphasis is placed on interpreting the physical evidence the sites provide, linking it with that taken from various types of documentary source, especially historical maps. By making comparisons with developments occurring at similar types of site elsewhere in Britain, as well as in Europe and North America, the forms the changes took are explained and their significance assessed.

Additionally, insights are provided into the economic and social impact the changes brought, especially on the everyday lives that people led.

Key features

  • Adds to appreciation of the fundamental changes to the built environment that occurred in Britain and elsewhere during the Industrial Revolution.
  • Provides clear guidance that can be widely applied about how neglected physical evidence at differing types of local historical site can be viewed and interpreted.
  • Demonstrates how important new insights relating to major historical themes, especially housing conditions, transport changes and industrial development, can be generated by combining physical with documentary evidence.
  • Includes extensive visual coverage of key features at the types of historical sites covered.
  • Shows how historical understanding can be extended and deepened by preparing contextualised case studies.


  • Introduction: scope and methods
  • Chapter 1: Harnessing water power: Cheesden valley textile mills
  • Chapter 2: Housing the workforce: Barrow Bridge ‘model’ factory village
  • Chapter 3: Working at home: the handloom weavers’ colony at Club Houses, Horwich
  • Chapter 4: Housing the better-off: Winckley Square, Preston
  • Chapter 5: Canal-side development: Eanam wharf at Blackburn
  • Chapter 6: Route realigning: the Bromley Cross and Edgworth road
  • Conclusion: Reviewing the transformation

The Built Environment Transformed

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN: 9781800856530 (Hardcover) | eISBN:9781802071085 (PDF)


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