Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Dad's Home Town

My father's family came from the Leicestershire village of Sibbertoft -- at least eleven generations of them, which is as far back as church records go; although they were of Norman extraction, so the line likely extended at the same spot all the way back to the time of the Conquest.

For nine generations they worked as farm laborers, although my Great Grandpa must have been literate, as he held the post of village clerk. My grandpa moved to the city of Leicester (pronounced Lester), the largest town in the East Midlands, to work in the hosiery trade upon which the 19th and early 20th century prosperity of the city was built.

For thirty years Grandpa managed the Wolsey Limited factory that stood near the centre of the city. Founded in 1755, Wolsey Limited was believed to be the oldest textile firm in England. It was named after Cardinal Wolsey who, in 1530, stopped at Leicester Abbey while on a journey from York to London to face charges of treason. Wolsey alarmed the monks by announcing that he would leave his bones among them, as he did, dying that very evening. The image of Cardinal Wolsey appears as a relief on the fifth floor facade of the Wolsey Limited factory.

My Dad's parents lived just out of town in the village of Fleckney. Dad attended the grammar school in the adjacent village of Kibworth Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham), where he became head of school and captain of football (soccer). The year he turned 16, he passed the Senior Oxford (i.e., university entrance) exams with honours, and left school with a testimonial from the Head Master stating that "his record as a pupil at this school is better than that of any other during the last eleven years."

But in those days it was considered unnecessary for a boy of that class to enter the university. As the Head Master, an Oxford MA, further stated "a little experience will give him confidence in the abilities he undoubtedly possesses, and he will then be a very valuable worker."

So it was as a worker that Dad went into the hosiery trade, where he lived up to his promise, becoming a factory manager at 18, a managing director at 25 and sales director of a manufacturing group at 30: a promising career that was brought short by a stint in the RAF during WW2.

In 1961, when I went to Leicester as a university student, not a whole lot had changed. The Wolsey Limited factory was still humming. The city still prospered, and was said to have more Rolls Royce motor cars per capita than any other town in England. But despite the flash cars and the fine Victorian and Edwardian mansions in the suburb of Oadby, is was mainly an English working class town, a place of red brick terrace houses of various types from the two down and two up with a front door opening directly onto the sidewalk, to the better sort of lower middle class housing with a yard or two of grass in front and separated from the street by a fence of iron railings.

The relief of Cadinal Wolsey on the facade of
what used to be the Wolsey Limited factory.
Image source.
Today, Leicester is rather different. Wolsey Limited has gone. The name lives on, but only as a marketing device: a good English name to stick on foreign goods. The factory's gone too, replaced by low-cost housing, although the facade with the image of the Cardinal has been retained.

Oddly, the BBC announcer reporting the reconstruction of the building did not know how to pronounce the name Wolsey. She said it with a short "o", which is daft: they knitted socks with wool, not wol, and pronounced Wolsey with a "wool".

But the misunderstanding's to be expected. The BBC encourages the use of regional accents in regional programming and, today, the voice of Leicester is the voice of ethnic Britain. From 212 thousand in 1901, the indigenous English population of Leicester has fallen by a third, while the ethnic population, chiefly, Hindu, Muslim and Sihk, has gone from nothing to more than 51% of the population in 2011 and is still growing fast.

The English are now past the tipping point in a town that has been their home for more than 2000 years and which played a critical role in their history. They are the minority. They have been ethnically cleansed, not by a conquering army, but as a matter of deliberate policy by their own government.

Dad was a man of pacific temperament. During the 30's he was a peace activist. Yet he understood the place of violence in history, and when it came to the crunch, volunteered for service in the struggle against Nazi tyranny. He believed the independence and liberty of England was worth fighting for.

Dad was no racist. He did business with all kinds and conditions of men and formed friendships with many, including immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. But he was patriot who would have considered the likes of Blair and Cameron, Clegg and Milliband traitors for what they have done to his home town: men worth fighting to expose, depose, and punish.


  1. Look at the big picture.
    The global economic collapse caused by resource depletion is now quite close. England can support perhaps about 12 million - on a long term sustainable basis - post collapse.
    A small problem for the elite. How to make the transition from a population of 52 million to 12 million without either getting their hands dirty or being sent to the guillotine?
    Solution, one half of the lower classes can fight the other half, whilst the elite retire to their country estates, until the lower classes have all killed each other. And as there will be no food or water in the cities and conurbations after the collapse, opting out of their struggle for survival is not an option.
    How to ensure a bloodbath? Import lots of third world immigrants, as alien as possible, and stir up as much resentment as possible via useful idiots like BBC and Equality Commission. Traditional imperial divide and rule, but now called diversity these days.
    And then, following the collapse, England returns to neo-feudalism. But with same old elite.

    1. A coherent thesis, but wrong on most if not all points.

      England could be entirely self-sufficient with 52 million or 152 million people, although there is no reason to be since international trade raises national prosperity.

      Here I will consider just food.

      Wheat can yield 1 kg per square meter. That's 5000 calories per meter, enough to feed two people for a day. So one hectare could feed 52 people for a year. So assuming yields of only one third of the maximum, England would require 3 million hectares of wheat to provide a grain-based survival diet. But the area of England is six times that, so there would still be plenty of room for sheep and cattle, towns and roads.

      As for what you call "the same old elite," do these people look British?

      No, the Brits are finished. Davie Cameron is just a puppet doing PR for the City of London and the global empire.

    2. I discussed a transition to a low energy-use world here:

      Can England Be Once More a Green and Pleasant Land?.

      The key requirements are the creation of a pleasant, high-density, energy-efficient, urban habitat, i.e., without cars, without homes that heat the outdoors and a life-style that eliminates the need for endless holiday flights to some place else.

  2. I think that you are a bit optimistic about food production in England.

    In World War 2, England produced about 50% of calories needed for then population of 40 million. Despite every possible effort of the government. See excellent book "The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food". Roughly similar to output of Victorian High Farming, which fed about 20 million. But that was using lots of fossil fuels, artificial fertilizers, pesticides, etc. An highly skilled farmers. Agricultural revolution England of early 1800s, using hand tools, fed around 12 million. Prior to that, population of England never got over 6 million.

    Re elite, maybe not quite as smart as they think. Diversity is a temporary socio-cultural artefact of the short lived era of high energy economy. A contemporary zero social cohesion, zero trust population is intensely fragile and vulnerable, falls apart at the slightest external shock or when the money stops. The more likely reality is that the new elite - post money - will be local fighters / gangsters / warlords, with deperate, hungry tribal followers. Brutal, ruthless, racist, sexist. Similar to post Roman Britain. EDL crossed with Kray brothers?


    (Incidentally I live in a small market town and have an allotment so know something about growing food. Also setting up a Collapsonomics group)

    1. "I think that you are a bit optimistic"

      Actually, I was far too pessimistic. Rothamstead Research state in a document dated 2012:

      "The average farm yield of wheat in the UK is currently 8.4 tonnes per hectare."

      My assumption that average yield was only 3.3 tonnes per hectare was thus too low by a huge margin. At the current average yield all the calories required to feed 52 million people could come from just over 1 million hectares of England's total area of ca. 18 million hectares.

      The reference to yields during WW2 is not pertinent. Cultural methods and varieties used today are totally different from those used then. According to this document:

      "From 1940-80, the UK went from 30% to 80% self-sufficient in crops."

      And they could easily have gone to 100% but they prefer to import better quality wheat for bread and pasta than the soft wheat they are able to grow at home, plus earlier and more exotic fruit and vegetables from throughout the world than they can grow at home.

      I wouldn't bet on the high energy economy being short-lived. Hydrocarbons will certainly supported continued economic expansion for more than 100 years. Canada alone has more oil than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela has more than Canada and natural gas is vastly more abundant than oil, not counting the methane hydrates.

      And improvements in energy efficiency will result in a several-fold increase in GDP per unit of energy.

      After that, who knows. But even today's renewable energy options combined with improved energy-use efficiency would allow almost indefinite expansion of the global economy.

      I once did the calculation and reached the conclusion that the limit to world population was about a trillion people. A bit crowded, but people could spread out over the ocean. The only question, I had was do we really need so many!