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The faces of Mancunian workers who'd be amazed at what's happening to their mill now

When workers finishing their day of work at Talbot Mill streamed out at closing time in 1900, some were surprised to see the presence of a film camera.

But more would be surprised that the cotton mill in the heart of Manchester’s Cottonopolis would shut down within decades of that video being captured. The video taken in 1900 showed Talbot Mill at the peak of its powers. By 1930 it had closed.

Originally built by J&E Waters in 1855, the company merged in 1897 with rivals to become a key part of the English Sewing Cotton Company. Just three years later, the footage was captured by A.D. Thomas when the city’s industrial might was powerful.

READ MORE: 25 brilliant photos of Manchester in June from the 1960s through to the 1990s

Thomas’ film was not for documentary or artistic purposes, though. He was part of a trend started by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon, who founded their company in 1897 in Blackburn.

They would film workers leaving at the end of the day or at lunchtime, positioning themselves by the gates so they could capture the maximum number of people on camera. They would then hand out leaflets telling workers where the film would be screened.

That was all done so people could view the film later — and see themselves on-camera for the first time — which was a booming trade at the turn of the 20th century. In Talbot Mill’s case, the negatives were found inside a barrel in Blackburn in 1994 by Peter Worden, a local film enthusiast, and in 2000 the British Film Institute took ownership and restored the vast number of negatives to 800 working films.

By the time of Worden’s discovery, though, Talbot Mill had been left empty. Indeed, just thirty years on from the day the film he saved was captured, the cotton