I came across an historical cotton press standing in cotton fields outside of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The following images unite this trip with my visit to Manchester, England earlier this Spring. In the 19th century, Manchester was the linen capital of the world and relied almost exclusively on imports of raw cotton from the American south. Interruption of supplies during the Civil War forced a great suffering upon Manchester which had a direct and profound impact on my Anglo-Irish ancestors who were working in the cotton mills there at that time.
The raw cotton had to be pressed into square bales and covered in burlap for transportation to the nearest seaport and then across the Atlantic.
Arkwright’s original spinning machine, dating from the 1790’s, about the same time period as the cotton press above. Manchester Museum of Science and Technology.