Britain Under Siege

The former industrial townscape of Crompton fr...

Image via Wikipedia

Slowly and under the guise of improving the quality of life for the British people mass-produced foreign imports have infiltrated Britain but at what cost?  As imports out way exports the trade deficit continues to grow and this trend shows no sign of letting up.

Years ago Britain had a wealth of cotton mills; the success of cotton mills gave birth to Mill towns, such as in Lancashire, these cotton mills contributed to the huge and rapid economic expansion for many parts of Britain.  There were 140 cotton mills in Burnley during the cotton heyday.

Stoke-on-Trent was once considered to be the home of the pottery industry in England and is still known today as ‘The Potteries’.  The production of pottery dates back to at least the 17th century and was founded on the area’s abundant supplies of clay; salt, the lead used for glazing; and of coal, used to fire the kilns.  Experts calculate that in the heyday there were up to 4,000 bottle kilns with as many as 2,000 still standing in the 1950’s. The Clean Air Act sounded the death-knell for the smoky, coal-fired ovens . There are 46 still standing today, although most of these are listed buildings.

The virtual annihilation of the steel, pottery industry and cotton mills was just the tip of the iceberg. Britain’s craftsmanship was dealt an ill-fated blow from which it may never recover.

As we look back on the loss of Britain’s various industries, it must be noted that the various skills utilised in these industries are inevitably also lost.

We now live in a throw away society where it is no longer economically viable to repair electrical appliances, clothing etc due to cheap foreign imports. A throw away society is unsustainable and the catastrophic effects on both society and the environment are undeniable.

Whether people are becoming disillusioned with the lack of the quality often found in cheap foreign imports or whether it is the desire to own a unique handcrafted product we may never know.  The fact remains that the influx of cheap imports was the cause of death for numerous well-known British companies.

Hand crafted merchandise is slowly becoming more popular and it is largely thanks to the various entrepreneurs who are using their new found skills to produce unique products and offering them for sale via the internet.  The recent rise in websites offering handcrafted products is mostly due to people choosing handmade products over conventional ones.  In fact, the handcrafted industry continues to grow in spite of the economical crisis we currently find ourselves in.  A quick search via Google for the term “Handcrafted” reaped 9,460,000 results.

Britain may once again enjoy the affluence of skills it once boasted, but only if as consumers we make the conscious decision to not only buy British but to also buy handcrafted products.  Thereby supporting the small businesses on which we may depend to aid Britain’s recovery and long term future economy.

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