I’ve just found this 78rpm vinyl recording of Lancashire textile workers. It’s called ‘Lancashire Speaks’ and was issued as record by Cyril Lord sometime in the 1950’s (I think).
I don’t have a 78 rpm record player so the exact nature and quality of the recording in a bit of a mystery. The best I can do is a sheet of paper (picture at end of post) I found inside the blank, brown paper sleeve which says: “these are the messages recorded in Lancashire by the people really concerned with the future of the textile industry”
- Mrs Susan Burrows of Padiham,
- Mrs Marjorie Rothwell of Oldham,
- Mr Albert Hurst of The Lily Mills, and
- Cyril Lord
From what I’ve found out, Cyril Lord was a self-made textile entrepreneur who is linked to a number of innovations in the textile industry between the 1940’s and 1970’s. A few of his innovations were not wholly successful (blue Astroturf) and he was also known for his imaginative approaches to advertising and marketing. There is some material online about a Cyril Lord cameo in a Batman Episode as the Carpet King! (might be a coincidence, I’m not sure about that one).
The ‘Lancashire Speaks’ records seem to have been directed at Members of Parliament (MP’s) as part of a campaign by Cyril Lord to get reforms to help the struggling Lancashire textile industry. There is also some interesting material available in a British Pathé film of a protest meeting involving what look like lots of textile workers. ‘Lancashire Speaks’ could be a useful record of the time and the views of textile workers. If anyone knows any more about it, or could suggest a good home for a piece of ancient vinyl, I’m happy to pass it on.
Thinking about Cyril Lord’s approach, this might have been the cutting edge of 1950’s communications and influencing. Here is a vinyl record that was distributed directly to Members of Parliament, with the voices of workers speaking (in a different accent) about something that is important to them. If the alternative was writing a letter, or the costly trip of travelling to meet MP’s in London this was pretty high impact.
I’m not sure if record players to ‘listen to the voice of constituents’ were allowed as MP’s expenses back then, but it’s an interesting thought. Sixty plus years later; Twitter, FaceBook, You Tube videos, Skype and dozens of other platforms allow MP’s to hear from their constituents and ‘citizens with a view’ pretty much constantly. I wonder if some of them would be happier with slipping on the occasional 78rpm vinyl record?
So, what’s the PONT?
- Communication and innovation seem to go hand in hand; ‘Workers Voice’ records in the 1950’s may well have been the equivalent of a modern Twitter campaign.
- Capturing and using authentic voices to tell the story is an approach that has been around for a while.
- If anyone can suggest a good home for the record, happy to pass it on.
Photos: My own
Links: Fascinating read by Philip Ollerenshaw, University of the West of England on: Innovation and Corporate Failure: Cyril Lord in UK Textiles 1945-1968 http://www.helsinki.fi/iehc2006/papers2/Olleren.pdf
LATEST NEWS!!!! The record is off to a good home.
The record is on its way to the North West Sound Archive in Clitheroe Castle Museum. Thanks to the internet and Twitter I’ve spoken to people at the archive and they would like the recording as they don’t have it. I hope it survives the journey (it is very well packed – see the picture) and it is playable.
Have just read an email from a friend who went to the screening and live post screening Q&A session for ‘The Spirit of ’45’ by Ken Loach. I haven’t seen it so I am basing my comments on a short email and skim reading a range of reviews. But what struck me was the contrast with the motivations of Cyril and his 78 rpm disc (or atleast your reasonable attempt to second guess his motivations). Ken’s film screening was apparently packed with people who all agreed with Ken. If its intention was to educate people, change something, then it seems doomed to fail. Using a 78 to reach a new audience, to really connect with a group of people whose minds you want to change…….starts to sound really radical.
What I love about social media…..the ‘other artists like this’ function on Spotify……youtube….is how quickly and easily I can connect with people….music….anything…..that is new (to me)…..and not part of my current (narrow) frame of reference.
Thanks for your blog. The format is perfect. If I inadvertently steal any aspect of its design please be flattered.
I’ve been thinking quite a lot about what a radical attempt at influencing this must have been in the 1950’s.
It’s easy to forget how instantaneous and wide reaching the ability to connect with is now, in comparison with not that long ago.
My mother certainly remembers the 1950s very well, and the excitement of listening to a record…… So much so you would pretty much listen to anything….. Just because it was on a record.
I am in the process of actually getting to hear what is on the record.
Through the wonders of the Internet I was put on touch with the North West Sound Archive. Spoke to a fantastic chap called Andrew and the record is on its way to him.
Hopefully some 1950s textile workers voices will be heard again for he first time in 60 years.
Couldn’t agree more! Aneurin Bevan Health Board have made some incredibly moving Patient Stories, which serves to inform people of the services available, raise issues that the health board faces and also to reassure carers and other service users that there is help available. Quite a powerful tool and shows the power of qualitative feedback. This example about tghe Bravehearts group is a good example
thanks for the comment.
Nothing like listening to or speaking with real people.
The link you sent was great.
Was thinking that the effort of recording and cutting a record must have been huge back in the 1950’s.
Flip cameras etc make it so much easier today.
Good news. The record is off to a good home.
The North West Sound Archive in Clitheroe.
Thank again for the comment, and link.
[…] ‘Lancashire Speaks’ (issued by Cyril Lord). Textile Workers Voices 1950’s style by Chris Bolton. […]
[…] Bolton wrote about a man who did things in a distinctive style in ‘Lancashire Speaks’ (issued by Cyril Lord). Textile Workers Voices 1950’s style, a 78rpm vinyl record that he found but could not play (there is a happy ending to this […]
[…] only link was a 1950’s 78rpm record called ‘Lancashire Speaks’ which I wrote a blog post about. Social media intervened and this is how I ended up on the radio […]
My late mother was the Marjorie Rothwell cited in the transcript of this record – I am desperate to hear this, if there is any possible way for me to do so. She was also used by Lord in a publicity photograph which had been doctored- she had never personally met him but was pictured with him standing by her.