The recorded history of Failsworth only goes back to 1212, which could be considered the unofficial beginning of the town itself, since the rest of it is going to be lost to history. Not very much is known about the town of Failsworth before the nineteenth century. Many small towns from this era did not keep detailed records about themselves, and the voices of the peasants are largely lost to history. Plenty of the historical buildings from this time period were converted into more modern buildings during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, or else the buildings have been lost entirely. Its old school, for instance, was turned into a Free-thought Institute by the early twentieth century, reflecting many of the cultural changes that were occurring at the time. However, many aspects of the town are still unchanged in spirit, even in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution.
The events of the nineteenth century were revolutionary throughout the world, and the town of Failsworth is no exception. Before the nineteenth century and the world-changing events of the Industrial Revolution, Failsworth was an agricultural township that didn’t have a great deal of influence outside of its local borders. The Parish of Manchester was the centre of a good portion of its cultural life. Churches during that time period weren’t merely places to pray. People went there for community in a way that is significantly more niche today.
The people of Failsworth made their living off of their agricultural products before the nineteenth century and all of its associated changes. Handloom weaving was also popular among the early people of Failsworth, although very few people exclusively made their living off of these sorts of textiles. The handloom weaving eventually gave way to a textile industry during the nineteenth century. Failsworth rapidly became a mill town, which is still clear to the people who visit it today. The large red brick industrial buildings that signify mill towns are still there, and they have now become symbols of the town’s history.
Interestingly enough, Failsworth was specifically noted for hat making. The idea that hat making could be so lucrative seems somewhat dated today, but it should be noted that wearing hats was once nearly universal throughout the Western world. People wore hats in order to cope with the new industrial pollution that many people had not yet gotten used to, since environmental reform was going to come later in history. Wearing hats all the time was possible as a result of the new industrialization, and wearing hats on almost any occasion became the standard manner of style by the early twentieth century. Failsworth managed to be one of the areas that helped facilitate that trend, reflecting and reinforcing it at the same time.
Failsworth has always been a town with a small population. In 1901, the population was 14,152. In 2001, a full century later, the population had only risen to 20,555. There are some universities that have a larger population than that today. As such, Failsworth has retained a great deal of its small town character. Outside influences have certainly had an effect on this town, but it is still going to have a very different look and feel to it compared to many of the larger cities of England. A lot of them seem to be completely different places each and every time you visit. Failsworth is a town that seems like a classic that cannot be truly altered.