When researching an article on infanticide in Victorian Preston I included accounts from the social activist and proto-feminist Eliza Cook and the town’s historian Charles Hardwick. I had not realised that the pair were probably close friends: he dedicated one of his books to her and wrote for her journal, she wrote poems for him.
The connection between the two was made in a long-overdue account of Hardwick’s life by Julie Foster and published in the Preston Historical Society’s Autumn 2020 newsletter. In one of her articles, Eliza Cook discusses conditions in the worst districts of Preston in a way that suggests she had gained first-hand knowledge of conditions there from a visit to the town.
Lancashire Working Lives is a new website devoted to working class history in the county – it launched only a few weeks ago but is based on years of research and is already well-stocked with material. And what is of especial interest to anybody studying the history of Preston is that most of that material relates to Preston.
Jim Leigh, one of the people contributing to the site, explained the thinking behind its launch:
A number of people have helped create the site who share a passion for working class history, along with the struggle and suffering they have endured over the years. I myself am a committed Trade Unionist of over 40 years with a particular interest in the circumstances that led to the development of our movement as well as the political/social issues of the time.
I am not an academic and the material you see on the site has been acquired after many years researching local newspapers from the Victorian era, the Preston Chronicle and Preston Guardian. The inspiration behind this site was to create more awareness of this relatively ignored aspect of local Trade Union/political and social history. We hope to add more material in the future.
Find it here: https://lancashireworkinglives.co.uk/
Introduction added for article about Preston diarists Thomas Bellingham and Lawrence Rawstorne