Planes and boats and trains


I explored Lymm this Bank Holiday weekend on foot. Lymm is a small Cheshire village which was unaffected by modern communications until 1766 when the Bridgewater Canal was constructed and skirts Lymm north of the village centre.

Lymm, from the Frith Archive

Lymm, from the Frith Archive

The canal offered access to a ready market for local agricultural produce and developed the fustian trade where coarse woven cotton was sent from Manchester cotton mills along the canal to Lymm’s fustian cutters. The bolts of cloth were stretched along attic floors and loops on the material were cut by hand, producing a form of velvet.

Subsequently, the railway arrived in 1853 (now the Trans-Pennine Trail) and began Lymm’s change to a dormitory village. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, skirting the village a mile to the North, and Lymm technically became a village by the sea! Salt extraction flourished for fity years from the beginning of the last century.

In the 1960s, the M6 and the M56 were built close to Lymm. Throughout it’s recent history, this small village has been profoundly shaped by communications through highways.

Bridgewater Canal in Lymm

Bridgewater Canal in Lymm

It made me think of our latest superhighways — the Internet, 3G mobile telephony, Bluetooth, WiFi, WiMAX — and how they are changing small hamlets. And how important content is.

The fustian trade couldn’t develop without quality cloth supplies. Conurbations needed fresh dairy produce. Lymm’s salt was of a particular purity.

So the packets of data on the Web’s superhighway need the quality of Lymm’s physical products to make them intelligible and emotionally appealing. And I am the dairyman, salt chemist and fustian cutter of this latest highway.

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About Jeremy
Digital marketing leader, blogger and speaker. Married with three adult children. Likes activities and sport not affected by weather.

One Response to Planes and boats and trains

  1. Jane Howitt says:

    Content isn’t just important, is it? It’s critical. Fluff and flummery don’t convince, convert or compel.

    Brings us rather neatly back to an earlier post of yours, actually, about quality. Vital! There’s no point wittering on for hours if you’re talking drivel. Cut, cut, cut! Until you’ve got concentrated quality.

    PS: Love the vision of you as ‘the dairyman, salt chemist and fustian cutter of this latest highway’. Nicely put!

    PPS: Especially as fustian also means ‘pompous or pretentious speech or writing’. Cut away, Jeremy!

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