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UK Textile Industry
Great Britain. The cotton textile industry is one of the many industries of Great Britain, which has come down to a humble state of existence from its exalted position of the past. Britain virtually dominated the world's cotton trade and industry through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Even today the country possesses a large number of spindles and looms, and is one of the largest producers of cotton textiles. Great Britain usually produces finer yarns and fabrics. She is solely dependent on imported cotton, 40 per cent of which comes from the USA and 25 per cent from Brazil Other suppliers are Egypt, Sudan, Peru and India. Specialization is the main feature of British cotton mill industry. Each of the operations, i.e. spinning, weaving and dyeing is carried out in entirely different establishments, and even in different areas.
Lancashire: The most striking feature of British cotton textile industry is its unusual concentration in a limited area of Lancashire, of which Manchester is the metropolis and Liverpool is the port. These towns have damp air favorable for spinning. On the other hand, weaving towns-Blackburn, Burnely and Preston are found in the drier Ribble valley along the north edge of the coalfields. In between these two groups are situated the towns having bleaching, dyeing, printing or finishing works. The finished textiles are sent to Manchester where they are sold in the great Exchange. Throughout the commercial world the name of Manchester has become synonymous with cotton cloth.
The causes for the localization of this industry in Lancashire may be listed as follows:
(a) Lancashire is sheltered from the cold east winds and is exposed to the warm, moist, westerly winds from the Atlantic, which is favorable for spinning finer cotton fibres.
(b) Due to earlier existence of woolen and linen industries here the local weavers have inherited skill of many generations.
(c) A number of machines for cotton manufactures were invented in Lancashire.
(d) The streams from the Pennine supply the water required for dyeing and bleaching. They also supplied the waterpower when it was necessary. At present coal from local (Lancashire) coalfields supplies the power.
(e) The western position of this area, and the existence of a first class port-Liverpool-facilitated Imports of raw cotton from the USA and the export of cotton goods. The construction of the Manchester Ship Canal has further improved the position of this.
Glasgow district: This area has similar advantages as moist climate, coal and port. Britain saw many ups and down in production of textiles. Particularly disastrous was the fall in exports to India and the Far East, which were once the principal markets of Great Britain. By 1930, India and China were self-sufficient in cotton manufactures and Japan became a major exporter of cotton piece goods. Two-thirds of her decline is due to the rise of the cotton mill industry in importing countries and the remainder is due to the competition from Japan.
Japan has captured much of the Eastern markets. Japan can produce cheaper goods due to cheap labour, nearness to the sources of raw cotton, nearness to markets, and Governmental backing. Moreover, the Japanese cotton industry is well organized with the most modern automatic machines
Besides Japan, Great Britain has to face competition from the U.S. in American markets and from India in markets of Asia and Africa. In fact, she is now the biggest customer of Indian place-goods. She also imports considerable quantity of cotton textile from Japan, France, Germany and Switzerland.
At present, Australia, the Union of South Africa and British West Africa are the principal market of British cotton textiles in coarser varieties she cannot compete with the East. There is little chance for her to regain the lost markets.
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