IAS Fellows' Seminar - The Dark Satanic Mills: Manchester's industrial landscape
‘Sooty Manchester’, wrote Thomas Carlyle in 1843, is ‘every whit as wonderful, as fearful, unimaginable, as the oldest Salem or Prophetic city’. Characteristically, Carlyle was capturing a growing unease among his readership: the contradiction between the national pride of being the ‘workshop of the world’ combined with a growing concern at the yawning gap between ‘two nations’, which was felt to be leading Britain inexorably towards conflagration and anarchy. One hundred years later Britain’s might as an industrial power was in terminal decline and (to borrow A.J.P Taylor’s words) Manchester had become ‘irredeemably ugly’. The renaissance of the city today as a result of the so-called ‘Manchester Miracle’ has meant that the industrial heritage of the ‘shock city’ of the industrial revolution has been demolished, awaits demolition, re-purposed, sanitised, or commodified or some combination of the above. This paper explores the reimagining of the ‘Dark Satanic Mills’ in 2018, a time when fewer and fewer people have personal experience of an industrial landscape who can tell another story.
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