“The eyes of the working classes are now fully opened, they begin to cry: Our St. Petersburg is at Preston!” Karl Marx, 1854
Curators at The Harris in Preston are busy putting together a fantastic exhibition which looks at the people in Preston who helped shape the world we live in today.
Industrial Revolutionaries opens 26 June until 6 November 2010
Employee worker relations, child labour, alcohol and the need for temperance, impending elections with surprise results, penal reform, and economic success for our manufacturing industries; the very issues that concern us in 2010 were preoccupying the people of Preston 150 years ago. People in Preston created a new industrial world and then fought to redress the problems of inequality caused by industrialisation through radical social reform and political activism. Preston is a microcosm for understanding the North West of England’s industrial pioneers and their ideas; ideas that shaped the modern world.
Industrial Revolutionaries is a major new temporary exhibition at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston. It spans 150 years with the key personalities and the movements they created– its influence, its history and its global impact – revealed through over 70 objects including portraits, major loans and key collection items, some newly conserved and on display for the first time.
Multi-sensory and hands-on, the exhibition puts people’s stories at the forefront. Visitors will discover the connection between familiar historical figures and lesser-known individuals. They will see how the actions of these people in Preston contributed to the Industrial Revolution:
Sir Richard Arkwright: Preston-born inventor of the water-frame, entrepreneur and developer of the factory system, Arkwright rose to become the richest commoner in the country.
Charles Dickens: author and social commentator, who visited Preston during the lock-out and strile of 1853, no doubt influencing his novel Hard Times.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were also writing about these events and asking will Preston be a test case for proletarian revolution?
Elizabeth Gaskell, author with a social agenda, influenced by events during the lock-out and strike of 1853-54. She fictionalised Preston weaver and orator George Cowell in her novel North and South.
Joseph Livesey: Champion of the poor and temperence campaigner.
Henry Hunt: Preston’s first radical MP and people’s hero.
Father Joseph ‘Daddy’ Dunn: Well respected and affectionately nick-named, he pioneered Preston’s achievement of being the first gas-lit town in Britain.
Rev. John Clay: Prison chaplain and reformer in the fields of crime and public health
Annie Hill: Half-time child mill worker and unusual in the fact that her portrait was painted by artist Patti Mayor
John and Samuel Horrocks: industrial innovators who developed the Yard Works and created Britain’s largest cotton-manufacturing company and factory with world-wide connections and influences.
This brilliant and thought-provoking exhibition also animates one of the museum’s social history collection’s most iconic objects – the Horrockses Yard Works model, a large scale model of a cotton mill. Forerunner of the multinationals, Horrockses was by 1913 Britain’s largest cotton manufacturer with a huge global network. Visitors will experience the world behind the scenes at the enormous mill complex through digital interpretation.
Other exhibits include Joseph Wright of Derby’s portrait of Richard Arkwright, a portrait of Henry Hunt MP, a Tee-Total teapot, the newly conserved tram wagon, Preston Prison whipping horse, specially recorded versions of street ballads plus unseen footage of Preston in North West Film Archive by local filmmakers Will Onda and Mitchell & Kenyon.