Between the years 1824 and 1865, 35 cotton mills were erected in Bacup. People flocked from the agricultural districts such as Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to work in Bacup. The beautiful wooded valleys and the clear fish-filled River Irwell soon disappeared and instead of growing trees, we grew chimneys that belched out smoked 24 hours a day. The industrial statistics in 1881, were as follows: 67 cotton and woollen mills, 7 size works, 4 print works, 4 dye houses, 5 reed and heald works, 3 felt works, 2 corn mills, 2 breweries, 3 iron foundries, 61 workshops, 19 stone quarries, and 16 coal mines. Of the 67 mills in Bacup and Stacksteads, which  once provided employment for many families less than half a dozen are left, with very few visible remains of the many coal mines, large and small, which provided the fuel that once powered them. Unemployment caused by the loss of industry is nothing new in Bacup. The first employment exchange had been situated on Market Street, opening there in 1915. Following the Great War, the office moved to the Mechanics Institute. Towards the end of August 1930, Messrs. Taylor of Littleborough were two weeks away from completing a brand new Employment Exchange in South Street. Conditions were such at the time that so many men were on the unemployment list that women and girls seeking help had to be seen in the female department of the Co-operative Hall, where the unemployment exchange had been prior to the new building. The number of people unemployed in 1984 was 885.
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