We sometimes share stories of early Mormon converts without really appreciating the context those stories took place in.   For instance, the City of Preston is forever firmly established in the beginning tales of British Mormonism, but have you ever wondered what is was like to live in 1837 Preston?

This next series of posts will transport you back to the industrial darkness of Victorian Preston to get a sense of what life was like for our early converts and missionaries.

Preston’s  Victorian Skyline – note the factory chimneys

Preston’s story is tightly wrapped in cotton.   It is safe to declare that every lancashire LDS convert was directly influenced by the cotton trade. The industry permeated every level of society.  Its influence seeped into every trade and every home.  Great Victorian towns, such as Preston and Manchester, lived and breathed cotton.  Our missionaries would have been sucked into an industrial world that would affront all their senses.

preston cotton famine
Workers during Preston’s Cotton Famine – look at the skyline of chimneys

The cotton trade has vanished from the Lancashire scene now (it died away after WW2 due to cheaper, foreign competition), so it is hard for us to imagine what it would have been like.  This next series of posts will help your imagination create a clearer image of what they would have experienced.   Over the next few weeks we will see this was not just another trade that happened to be going on behind closed factory doors while our missionaries did their thing.   It would have been at the forefront of everyone’s consciousness.

Preston’s Market Place

May I be as bold to say that to understand the early LDS experience in Britain you HAVE to understand cotton.  This may sound an odd statement, but if you really want to transport yourself to their time, to their feelings, to their events I think it is something you have to explore and accept.
The following is the proposed route through this wonderful world of cotton.

  • Cotton Overview
  • Domestic Weavers
  • Richard Arkwright
  • Charles Dickens description of Preston?
  • The Cotton Lords of Preston
  • Thomas Miller
  • The 1836 Spinner’s strike
  • The 1842 murders
  • The Rules of the mill…
  • The American Civil War
  • Here come the Mormons
  • …and so to Utah

See you in the next post as our journey begins.