University of Leicester
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The origins, development, decline and reuse of the cloth mills of the Stroud Valleys of Gloucestershire

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:42 authored by Stephen. Mills
The thesis, which opens with a critical review of the primary and secondary literature on the British woollen industry and trade generally, examines the development of the Stroud industry, its rise to an area of considerable industrial importance, and its eventual decline. Important factors that influenced its development included gradual mechanisation and transition from water to steam power over a protracted period. Following woollen's decline, many mills were reused by a variety of successor industries. At the core of the study are three chapters based largely on site visits that review and analyse power sources, power transmission systems and the construction and architecture of mill buildings. A methodology pioneered by the RCHME's survey of Yorkshire mills is used; this combines the use of maps, record office archives, printed sources, site visits and record making.;The focus on industrial enterprises, mill sites and buildings reveals some similarities with competing areas but also significant differences. In Gloucestershire, a capitalism system of organisation was adopted early, with clothiers living in or near their mills. Most mill sites developed in a piecemeal fashion over protracted periods. Their owners were cautious and conservative men who adapted only slowly to new ideas and change and many remained heavily dependent on water power long after competing areas had switched to steam. Mechanisation of the industry in Gloucestershire was relatively trouble-free as a result of a compliant workforce.;Overall, the woollen industry in the Stroud valleys was characterised by a history of tradition and reluctance to change in the face of changing market requirements. However, even after woollen cloth's demise, a surprisingly high degree of industrial activity continued in the region.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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