We are now well into our R&D process, delving into archive research scouring the internet and piling up an ever taller mountain of books.
These are on subjects from the poetry and songs of old Lancashire, the writings of 19th century figures like Edwin Waugh or the novels of Ethel Carnie that tell of working class life in the mill towns.
Reading the accounts of Rochdalians of the time and their recollections of the hunger and suffering the people endured is very powerful. So too are the eloquent and moving autobiographies of Frederick Douglass, I’ve also been delving into Sirpa Salenius brilliant biography of Sarah Parker Remond.
Unlike Douglass Sarah was never a slave, though she faced chronic racism her whole life. However just like Douglass, she came here to the UK in the years before the US civil war, she spoke to packed halls Manchester – an incredible and very rare thing for a black woman to be able to do at the time.
She spoke very warmly of her time here. But pushing three million Lancastrians depended on the cotton industry for a living one way or another. It’s complete closure was a devastating blow, hunger is an awful thing.
So it’s probably scarce wonder that we find a very mixed and nuanced picture of who and where support for the blockade and the North in the civil war was strongest.
More to come…