Alternative Names
Cowdon; Coldoun; Cowdoun
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Agricultural Improvements

The improvements ranged from implementation of new drainage systems, soil nutrition chemistry, ploughing systems, encouraging tenants to replace buildings with ‘modern’ structures and turning over vast landscapes to sheep pasture. The pace of change increased into the 19th century and the landscape prior to this period compared with the current appearance could not be further from one another.
(Alex Hale, RCAHM, Centenary Conference November 6, 2010)

Industrial Development

History of calico-printing, an account by David Saxby of the Museum of London Archaeology Service .

During the 17th century the East India Company imported from India cotton cloth called ‘calico’. It was printed in bright colours and, although very expensive, became very popular.

The new cloth alarmed the English woollen industry, which in 1700 obtained an Act of Parliament banning imported printed fabrics. As a result, merchants imported plain cotton and developed the techniques of printing it.

Before the cloth was printed it was bleached in crofting or bleaching grounds (large open areas of grassland cut by parallel, water-filled, ditches). First the cloth was immersed in an alkaline solution made from wood ashes, and then in sour milk. The cloth was then washed in the water-filled ditches and laid out on the grassland, enabling sunlight to bleach it. This was a slow process and took many months to complete; not until the mid-1750s was the bleaching time greatly reduced by using dilute sulphuric acid for the souring. By the end of the century chlorine, in the form of bleaching powder, made new methods of mass-production possible.

The early calicoes were printed by hand using wood blocks, replaced in the 1750s by engraved copper plates. The copper plates had the advantage of taking more detail than the wood blocks, but still had to be operated by hand. By the end of the 18th century copper plates were replaced in turn by copper cylinders which enabled entire lengths of cloth to be printed much faster.


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