Sunday, March 06, 2005

Tripping in Saddleworth

Yesterday had a field trip to Saddleworth. It was cold even with 3 t-shirts, 2 sweatshirts and a fleece jacket.

First off, the museum, well in the keeper who opened on Saturday morning especially for us! There, I was thrilled and overjoyed to find they had a lant pot! A lant pot is a pot for taking the piss.

OK, herein a brief parenthesis about the history of taking the piss. To get lanolin out of wool soak it in an alkaline solution. Cheapest cheerfulest alkaline solution is err, well wee-wee left for a couple of days contains amongst other things ammonium hydroxide. Hence recycling of pish until relatively recently. In fact there is even a recorded case of a man selling fake pish and being fined by the beak. Somewhere in the dying trade alum was used, it was imported to England from deposits near Rome, a supply which was cut off during the reformation. So somewhere in Yorkshire it was synthesised and they needed an alkaline solution to do so. Hence, barrels of pish where shipped from the bog-houses of London up the east coast. So no doubt, captains and other matelots of said ships would meet colleagues in the alehouse and be asked what they where up to, “Oh, just taking the piss”.

Next exhibit a hand loom, from the golden age of hand loom weaving, a carding machine and the spinning mules which put hand loom weavers out of business, not before some of them had pioneered mathematics, railway timetables and the Great and Glorious Co-operative Movement.

Then off out into the freezing cold Pennines, following the Prof up Uppermill high street to the old Mechanics Institute. The retail co-op in Saddleworth dates from the heroic age of the co-op movement, and would you believe it, they built some social housing.

Next, freezing my balls off, up a lane to look at some weavers cottages, now inhabited by chavs (anyone who wears Burberry is either a chav or disguised as one) and putting all our archaeological and analytic skills to work out how these said cottages developed. Then back through Uppermill to look at some prehistoric council housing. Would you believe it, it would appear that someone once built some council housing without the minimum 10 years of building delays…..

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