Why was cotton so important in north west England?

Souvenir cotton bale

Made in the USA, 1885

Object number 1942/9
Given by Councillor E Henthorn, 1942

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Souvenir cotton bale

Throughout the 1800s the USA supplied most of Oldham's cotton. Raw cotton was processed and packed in large bales for shipping. This small cotton bale is from the World Exposition Trade Fair held in New Orleans in 1884-85. Representing the USA's most recognisable export, it is labelled 'A souvenir of the sunny south'.

The cotton bale was donated to Gallery Oldham in 1942 by Councillor E Henthorn, whose grandfather Thomas Henthorn was a cotton dealer in the 1880s, and later manager of a group of Oldham cotton mills.

This information was provided by curators from Gallery Oldham.