‘The Lancashire Factory Girl’ – Exclusive New Faustus Track!

‘The Lancashire Factory Girl’ by Faustus

Well, as promised, here is another exclusve track from Faustus setting to music original poetry discovered during our research. The poem it comes from was published in the Preston Chronicle in the winter of 1862-63 (29/11/1862) – the harshest season in terms of social and economic hardship during the whole of the Cotton Famine. This is an important context – during this period half of the population of Preston was receiving official Famine relief.

The poem relates, in traditional ballad meter, the story of a young woman made unemployed by the factory closures being forced to sell her possessions one by one in order simply to survive. The way the poem is framed each of these possessions represents a gift from members of her family who have all succumbed to the famine. By the end of the text the young woman notes that she has at least retained her ‘reputation’ or ‘virtue’.

Poems such as these, while following the Victorian fashion for sentimental narratives, clearly serve the purpose of raising the consciousness of readers as to the true cost of the economic deprivation on poor families in the region. There is an implicit appeal for charity, for aid, and really just for work. For us, one hundred and fifty years later, the work functions as a unique window on not just the kinds of actions and behaviours which resulted from the crisis, but on how these were described to people within the region.

As with the previous track, we cannot thank Faustus enough for the work they have done bringing this wonderful text to life. That the author of this poem – ‘H. M.’ as they sign themselves – is actually the factory girl in question, is unlikely, but I was very moved by this piece when I first found it over a year ago. Listening to Faustus’s beautiful rendition brought all of these emotions back and I think this is an extraordinary collaboration between a long-dead anonymous Victorian poet and a phenomenally talented group of musicians.

Dr Simon Rennie

10 thoughts on “‘The Lancashire Factory Girl’ – Exclusive New Faustus Track!

  1. M

    A beautuful song with haunting words, sadly its themes of poverty, famine and loss are still relevant today.

  2. Ruth Mather

    Thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts. One of the best things about studying the poetry of the Cotton Famine is the insight it gives us into the emotional impact of poverty and how it felt to be in such desperate circumstances. Please keep an eye on the blog – we’ll upload more poetry and music as the project progresses.

  3. John Pye

    What wonderful words. Beautifully sung. WOW!
    I found a better copy of the words than the image in this article offers at…

    Would it be possible to buy a copy of the guitar chords with the music score of this setting by Faustus, as I am sure many of the folk at our ‘Off the Rails’ monthly folk club gathering, as would I, love to have a go at singing this song.If so, please could you tell me where I could obtain a copy from?

    1. Simon Rennie Post author

      Hi John, thanks for this.

      I was interested to see that this poem had been picked up on before as a representative of feelings during the Cotton Famine in Preston. I will pass on your request to Faustus but this is a brand new composition commissioned especially for this site so there won’t be any official ‘songsheet’ as such! By the way, sorry for the late response, I’ve had trouble logging on to the site.

      Best wishes,


  4. Rosie Jones

    I don’t know whether you will be interested in this, which is just a reference to a Cotton Famine ballad which was sung at the Whitsuntide Fair in Preston in 1863. I found it in The Preston Guardian 30th May 1863 whilst researching a relative of mine who had a portable theatre which travelled the fairs and feasts of Lancashire. He was a regular visitor to the annual fair in Preston and I am currently writing a chapter about him during the Cotton Panic.

    “On the fairground a trio of balladeers rendered ‘… in rusty tones …’ “The Appeal of the Preston Operatives to the People of England” , doggerel verse which people readily bought.”

    1. Simon Rennie Post author

      Hi Rosie,
      Thank you so much for this, and apologies for the long delay replying. We are working on notifications with the site. This is fascinating because although we have poem titles similar to this I am not sure we have the exact same one – we will keep an eye out and let you know if we find it. Of course, it is possible that we do have it and it was simply known by more than one title. You might be interested to learn that we are considering printing off broadsides of some of the poems we discover at some point for distribution. We are unlikely to render them in rusty tones at fairgrounds though!

      Best wishes,


  5. Barry S Britzman

    I knew of some of the Lancshsire songs from the singing of A L Llloyd.I live in Wales snd maybe that is why I have not heard Faustus before this recording.
    I am very impressed with both the poety and the rendition as a song. Deeply moving wherev are the other songs. Does Fuatus intnd releasing a recording on CD?
    Congratualtions I love the singing and the song.
    Barry S Britzman

    1. Ruth Mather

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks, glad you like the song. We currently have two Faustus tracks on the database – The Lancashire Factory Girl and Food or Work. The band are currently working on more songs based on the poetry we’ve found and will release a 5-track EP with these in due course – watch this space! They will also be performing Cotton Famine Poetry songs in Manchester as part of the Literature Festival on November 21st this year.

      In addition to this, we’re hoping to widen the range of voices reading and singing the poetry as the database develops, so please do keep an eye on the site in the coming months!


        1. Ruth Mather

          Hi Martin,

          Great to hear more of the poems brought to life! Please do keep in touch with us about the EP – it may well be that we can include some of the tracks as sound files on the database (with full credit and a link to your own page, of course).

          All the best,

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