Wool and England

Wool and England

England's first great industry was wool.

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The history of wool is an integral part of the history of Britain as much of the wealth of Britain was founded on wool, and in fact, even today, the Lord Chancellor still sits on a seat stuffed with wool, known as the woolsack, when in Parliament.

Wool, more than any other commodity ever produced in these islands is a part of Britains' history and heritage, it was first woven into cloth here in the Bronze Age, circa 1900 B.C. although historically this is comparatively recent as elsewhere in the world primitive man had domesticated the sheep around 10,000 B.C.

The Industrial Revolution, 1750-1850, brought radical changes as well as much unrest to the woolen industry. Until the mid-1700's cloth production was very much a "cottage industry" done on manual spinning wheels and looms. However, this was to all changed with the invention of steam power and the introduction of many machines for the mass production of cloth. Many years of unrest followed with workers banding together to riot and destroy much of this valuable machinery as they rightly saw that it threatened their livelihoods. The most famous of these was the Luddite Riots of 1812 but others took place throughout that period in many parts of the land.

Today wool is still valued for its wonderful properties of warmth, softness, and versatility. The industry however is a very competitive one worldwide but Britain is still in the forefront as a producer of the raw material although many countries are now severely competing with her as producers of cloth and yarn.


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