John Bolton (1849-1904) & Technology Transfer.

wantingcaution !! this is an initial draft ... these notes are on my server for safe keeping !!





John Bolton

John Bolton (1849-1904)

John Bolton worked for Howard & Bullough Ltd, cotton mill machinery manufacturers from Accrington. They had a thriving business in Russia, and John was part of a team sent out to Egorievsk, a town 70 miles south east of Moscow, to manage the cotton mill owned by brothers David & Gerasim Khludov.

John first became involved in the Egorievsk Mill between 1872 when John married in Oldham, and 1878 when son Harry was born in Russia. He eventually became a Director of the company.

By 1889 the factory employed 3,000 workers and by 1900 that figure had risen to 5,000.

In 1895, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the company, 3 medallions and 3 albums of photographs were presented to the two brothers and John Bolton. The medallions were made by Fedor Lorie, a craftsman who had worked for the world renowned jeweler, Faberge. These presentation gifts to John Bolton remain proud possessions of the family.

Great grandson Paul Bolton explained the fascinating family details -

'John Bolton and Martha had four children; Nellie (1874-) born in Oldham, Harry (1878-1958) born in Russia and Clara (1882-) & John (1883-). I've been doing some delving into our family history over the past few years and am slowly putting pieces of the jigsaw together. This was spurred on by the medallion and album from John's time in Russia which we took to Antiques Roadshow in 2015. Through the programme I have been contacted by Nadine Mills, Nellie's great grand daughter who is also researching the Bolton family history ... and Pat Moseley, Clara's great grand daughter.
My brother Colin, and I are the grandsons of Harry Bolton, Clara's brother. Harry married Gertrude Birchall, and I have recently made contact with John Birchall, her great-nephew. John is interested in the industrial history of the period and has an extensive web site on which he has kindly included information about our side of the family.
Maybe also of interest there were some letters, written by a chap from Rochdale who was out in Russia at the same time as John & Martha, and who mentioned them in his writings home.
Pat & Bill Moseley settled in Melbourne, Australia where they saw the Antiques Road show on the 17th February 2016. They were absolutely stunned to see the same family history. Pat's sister Susan Wild was living in the UK at this time.
Their Great Grandfather was John Bolton and their Grandmother Clara born May 27th 1881 was his youngest daughter.
Clara was married Edward Johnson, a bank cashier.
Pat had family memorabilia relating to the time that her grandparents were in Russia. Pat sent a superb picture of John & Martha.
John and Martha both left their wills. One thing that always intrigued the family was in Martha's will, she referred to a stuffed wolf which was bequeathed to Clara. We'd love to know where that ended up!

Nadine Mills added details of the Nellie branch of the Boltons. John Bolton who married Martha was Nadine's great great grandfather. Nellie (born 1883 in Lancs) married William Henry Bennett in 1903 when they were both 30, which was 'late' for that time. Nellie & William were Nadine's great grandmother & great grandfather. Their son Arnold Bennett, one of 5 children married Ruth McClelland, Nadine's grandparents ... her mother, Judy Bennett, was their daughter. Judy had a brother Peter Bennett who married Tricia Taylor and they have 3 children; Genevieve, Matt & Nick. Judy Bennett married Lawrence Mills (deceased) and they had 3 daughters, Nadine and her younger twin sisters Sophie & Amanda.

Egorievisk House, MellorNadine summarised her research - 'I started researching my family after a conversation with my sister in law who lives in Mellor, Cheshire, not far from where my grandparents used to live.
We were talking about the name of their house at 267 Longhurst Lane, Mellor which was called Egorievsk. They had bought the property from William Henry and Nellie (Nellie brought the name idea back from Russia). The house had a wrought iron gate with this name as part of it and as a child I often wondered about its origin. I asked my Mum and she told me that granny went to Russia, probably as a governess or such like. A couple of years ago I decided to research this further and joined Starting with the information from Mum I found documents with additional information. From the census from 1891 and 1901 the family were listed and Nellie was born in 1873 in Lancs but I noticed her siblings were all born in Russia. So my husband Jono researched Egorievsk and cotton mills as we knew that John Bolton was a retired mill manager from one of the documents.
We discovered that the Lancastrians from Oldham had the specialised knowledge of how to set up, build, equip and run cotton mills. This know how was exported to Russia, and the managers too! After contacting the Yegorievisk Museum (that's how they spell the name in Russia) we found that John Bolton had been a mill manager there for around 20 years. We think that he would have taken his wife Martha and Nellie, either as a babe in arms or in the womb, to Russia and had the other children there. The census also indicated that they also had 3 children who died. In the censuses, I think 1891, the children, without Nellie, were living back in Oldham with a housekeeper and were scholars, Clara was listed as a Milliner.
So we think that the family, although not John, came and went to and from England. As indicated in some of Paul's letters it appeared that the children got their education in England.
Russia went through some sort of workers revolution and John Bolton stuck his head out for the Russian workers rights and was the only English manager to be liked by them.
Egorievsk SleighMy Mum's cousin Jill Watson (neé Bennett) has told me that she has a wonderful photo of Clara, Nellie and Lisa on a sledge in Russia.
I too saw Paul and Colin on the Antiques Roadshow about a year ago and my husband and I sat their with our jaws dropping and felt quite emotional! Isn't it fab now that we are all now connecting?!
Do let me know if you would like any other info and I would love to hear your side. Has anyone got the stuffed wolf? I think Paul is on a mission with that one'.
Enid Briggs added more about Howard & Bullough and posed interesting questions about Mellor.

1720 John Lombe at Derby. When his patent expired in 1732, the industry rapidly developed in Derby, Chesterfield and Glossop and spread over the border to Macclesfield, Congleton and Stockport.
Arkwright came came to Nottingham in 1768. His partnership with Jedediah Strutt and the market provided by the local hosiery trade led him to open his first water driven factory at Cromford in 1771.
Cotton mills and print-works were built in the Torrs Gorge from 1788.
The Torr Vale Mill was built by Daniel Strafford and was known as Stratford's Mill.
It was powered by two waterwheels to spin and weave cotton until 1856, when it was rebuilt and a steam engine was added. It continued to be driven by steam and water until the 1940's when electricity took over. Finally after 210 years of continuous textile production (making it the longest continuous production in the UK), the mill closed it's doors on this era in December 2000. Grove Mill (Barnes Mill) started in 1790.
The mills spread up the valleys from the original centres like Stockport. The oldest print works was probably Strines 1794. Watford Bridge and Birch Vale were nearly as old as Strines; Birch Vale was originally the Garrison Printworks, but after early failures it was bought by the Bennett’s who moved to the new site in 1851.

In the 1851 census has John Howard's wife, Mary, born in 'Mellor, Derbyshire'. By 1861 this was 'New Mills, Derbyshire'. Looks like Longhurst Road, Mellor, originally in Cheshire, just a couple of miles from New Mills, Derbyshire. Enid Briggs identified two H&B employees with Russian 'connections' - grandfather Charles Brown (-), iron turner from Bury, and Frederick English (1863-1903), out fitter, died in Russia and Albert Arthur English (1893-1918), draughtsman, born in Russia??
Was John Howard involved with the mill at New Mills, when he met his wife Mary?

William Bolton graveHere's the family -
William Bolton (1812-72) married Elizabeth Wild (1815-81) 19 August 1832
- Henry Bolton (1837-) baptised 3 Dec 1837 Oldham
Sarah Ann Street (1837-) 23 Aug 1837 Oldham ...
and secondly married Sarah Ann Austerberry (1839-) 24 March 1861 Oldham  
Florence Bolton (-)
1891 census - Henry 'Insurance Agent' - Florence ' Florrie' 'slightly paralysed'
- Peninnah Bolton (1838-88) ... married Jacob Newton (1838-) July 1859

1861 census - @ 120 Jackson Street, Oldham -
- William Bolton (1812-72) Cotton Factory Worker born in Rochdale 49
- Elizabeth Wild (1815-81) Milliner born in Rochdale 46
- Thomas Bolton (1841-) Cotton Factory Worker born in Oldham 20
- Sarah Bolton (1843-) Cotton Factory Worker born in Oldham 18
- William (1846-) Cotton Factory Worker born in Oldham 15 
- John Bolton (1849-) Cotton Factory Worker born in Oldham 12
- Elizabeth Bolton (1851-) Nurse born in Oldham 10
- Edwin (1853-) Cotton Factory Worker born in Oldham 8 
- Mary Hannah (1858-) born in Oldham 3
- Sarah Ann Bolton (1860-) born in Oldham 1

John Bolton (1849-1904) married Martha Thorpe (1848-1919) Oldham 1872. In the 1871 census John age 23 was possibly living in Chadderton, Oldham. In the 1901 census John, a Mill Manager (retired), and Martha were living at 38 Gilda Brook Road, Pendleton, Salford, with Nellie (1874-) born in Oldham, and Clara (1882-) & John (1883-) both born in Russia ...

John & Martha's children - 

Nellie Bolton (1873-) born in Oldham, married (1873-) William Henry Bennett a Salesman from Eccles in 1903. Sister Clara was a witness. In 1911 census William & Nellie were living at Egorievsk, Longhurst Lane, Mellor with sons Norman aged 6, Arnold aged 5 daughter Nancy aged 2 and a servant. William was a Woolen Manufacturers Agent in Mellor having moved from a Salesman in Eccles.
Arnold Bennett (1906-) was one of 5 children, married Ruth McClelland (1907-) and Judy Bennett (1937-), was their daughter. In 1939 register Arnold was a Textile Director living with Ruth, Judith and Joan McClelland (1906-), Ruth's sister? plus a servant at Colman, Longhurst Road, Mellor.
Judy Bennett (1937-) married Lawrence Mills (deceased) and they had 3 daughters, Nadine and her younger twin sisters Sophie & Amanda. Neillie was the great grand daughter Nadine Mills. 
Judy had a brother Peter Bennett who married Tricia Taylor and they have 3 children; Genevieve, Matt & Nick.
What were Nadine's great grand parents William Henry Bennett & Nellie doing in Mellor? Of course Samuel Oldknow established Mellor, pride of place in textiles.

Mary Elizabeth Bolton (1875-) married George H Thorpe (1868-1945)

John Buck Bolton (1877-)

Harry Bolton (1878-1958) born in Russia when John Bolton was working in Russia. Harry married Gertrude Birchall (1887-1914) in Middlewich in 1912 whilst she was working as a bar assistant at the Rochdale Railway Station and Harry was living in 112 Gildbrook  Road, Hope. Harry also worked in textile machinery manufacture (where?) and ended up with Tweedales & Smalley, in Rochdale. Gertrude & Harry had a son Harold Birchall Bolton (1913-99) born in Bradford in 1913 married Vera Feather (1920-2004) and grandsons Paul (-) & Colin Bolton (-). During Harry's work overseas Gertrude moved to Bradford to be near her sisters Mary Ellen (1889-), who had married a Bradford Hugh Percy Town (1877-) in 1910, and Minnie (1885-) who had married Arthur Collins (1884-) 28 Dec 1912 also lived there. In the 1911 census Gertrude was living at 7 St Lenard's Road.
Tragically, Gertrude died in 1914 aged only 27, and Harold Birchall Bolton was brought up by Martha in Manchester, when Harry was in India from 1914. Gertrude was buried with her dad in Middlewich.
When Harry returned from India he married again to Lucy (-). The 1939 register records the family at 8 Lyndhurt Avenue, Rochdale. Harry born 4 Nov 1878, M, Technical Adviser Textile Machinery  Estimating Clerk; Lucy born 19 Aug 1871, M, Unpaid Domestic Duties; Harold B born 20 Aug 1913, S, Heavy Worker Electrical Switchgear Fitter Admiralty?; Enid born 21 Aug 1924, S, at School ...

Clara Bolton (1882-) born in Russia, married Edward Johnson, a bank cashier
great grand daughter Pat who married Bill Moseley
great grand daughter Susan Wild

John Bolton (1883-) born in Russia, John was an Apprentice Electrical Engineer in 1901 ...

Martha died 24 May 1919, 71 years old, at Egorievsk, Longhurst Lane, Mellor, Hayfield, Derby. Widow of John, Mill manager, of Egorievsk, Gilda Brook Lane, Eccles, Manchester. Martha moved to Mellor to be near Nellie after John died?

The Ergorievsk saga was the subject of a fascinating blog by Frank Pleszak in 2022 ... great!

Japan 04.jpgHoward & Bullough Ltd

The firm was started in 1853 by two guys from Bury Mr John Howard and Mr Bleakley. They manufactured machinery for the Lancashire textile industry, and started exporting to many parts of the world. From the small beginnings in 1853, the company soon erected new buildings along Fountain Street.

Mr Bleakey left the business in 1856 and a boom commenced under the leadership of inventor James Bullough as manufacturing efforts focused on making looms and by 1864 staff numbers had risen considerably and further extensions undertaken.

John Bullough (1837-1891) was the guiding genius and by 1920 his legacy, Globe Works, dominated the landscape & employment in Accrington.

Howard & Bullough in Scaticliffe, Accrington, grew The Globe Works from small beginnings in Victorian Lancashire to a giant in the twentieth century.

New premises covering four acres were built in Charter Street for the manufacture of spindles.

In 1906 the  Manchester Courier reported on the company's success.

In 1925 Howard & Bullough were involved in a large Russian export order as part of the New Economic Policy.

By 1930 the total factory space was fifty acres, with most of the old buildings rebuilt and modernised.

Howard and Bullough peaked at employment of over 6000 people from Accrington and surrounding areas.

The name Howard & Bullough disappeared in 1970 when the name became Platt International. An additional name change came in 1975, when the Scaitcliffe works became known as Platt Saco Lowell.

The Globe Works closed in 1993, 140 years after the company was first founded.

Tweedales & Smalley Ltd was a manufacturer of textile machinery in Castleton, Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in England. It specialised in ring spinning frames mainly for export. When John Bullough, of Howard & Bullough died in 1891, three of the directors, Edmund Tweedale, Samuel Tweedale and Joseph Smalley decided to set up their own textile machine manufacturing business. They started in John Street, Rochdale. In July 1892 they moved into the new Globe Works, Castleton; the layout and buildings having been designed by Samuel Tweedale. Howard & Bullough operated out of the Globe Works Accrington.
In 1920, the partners handed over the company to a syndicate. The families remained on the board until 1926, when only Walter Smalley remained. The company survived the interwar years by an aggressive export drive, taking major orders from India and Russia.

When John Bullough died in 1891 three of the company's executives decided to set up in business on their own. Brothers Edmund & Samuel TweEdale and Joseph Smalley each put £10,000 into the venture which became Tweedales and Smalley.

 Harry Bolton (1878-1958)

Harry Bolton was the son of John Bolton, he was born in Russia when his dad was out there doing his bit to transfer technology to the Tzars. Harry also went into the technology export business and joined Tweedales & Smalley Ltd.

Jopthah PriestleyJephthah Priestley (1824-)

Priestly Letter 1876Jephthah Priestley was a contemporary of John Bolton and another Lancashire lad who went out to Russia to work in the cotton mills. For expatriates from the Lancashire mills life in Russia was challenging and full of interest. Many fascinating insights into the life of these pioneers can be found in the Priestley family archive. The archive contains around 500 letters chronicling life in Russia and its mills in the second half of the 19th century.

In 2018 Julia Richardson the ggg granddaughter of Jepthah Priestley added some of her research notes to the saga of the Priestley family. Julia discovered the details of Jephthah Priestley through another descendant of his, Mavin Ingham who died a few years ago. Corresponded back in the 1990s included photos of Jephthah and his wife Sarah and all their surviving children with a brief account of his travels to Russia and dates of birth/death of their children. Julia was related to Jephthah's daughter, Florence, who married Frank Richardson. Mavin was a descendant of his daughter, Adeline.
The Richardson great grandparents moved to London where subsequent generations all grew up.


Technology Transfer

Technology transfer was not a facile process as John Bolton learned he went to work at the mill at Egorievsk. There was a culture clash not only between the mills of Lancashire and Russia but also between the factories and countryside in Russia itself.

Russian Peasants in the Egorievsk Factory 1892-1904

Egorievsk MillThe mill at Egorievsk 70 miles south east of Moscow was in the countryside. It was built by the Khludov Brothers in cahoots with Ludwig Knoop around 185?.  

Peasants didn't trek from the villages to find jobs in the city factories. The mill came to the villages. Some peasants became permanent factory workers, but others had 'winter only' jobs. There was never a clean break with village. The number of 2nd generation workers was rising and connections with the villages were loser, but at heart many of the workers were still peasants with 'permanent side earnings'. They needed a passport to leave the village, they retained a claim on land and sent some of their wages 'home to the wife'. The village was an 'insurance' if the factory shut down.

There were divided loyalties.

The factory was not dominant, the Russian tradition held that in hard times the peasants hopes turned to the government for protection. The economics was naive, if capitalists failed to increase wages or threatened to close factories the government simply took them over.

But the economic reality was different. The capitalists assumed the workers needed to earn money and would make an effort to increase their pay through acquiring more skills. The more they specialized, the more they would earn and thus be won over to the factory work. Worker literacy increased, things were improving. 

 The village was poor and hungry; the factory at least paid a wage!

But from the peasant's point of view there was a deep sense of injury and alienation as he was 'exiled' from his village. But where was the human fellowship in such a demographic flux?

Entrepreneurial skills counted for nothing in the minds of the peasants; they could not grasp the concept of profit.

In the rural village it was God's will but in the factories it was man made.

There were typically four stages involved in the resentment and alienation which led to industrial unrest and strikes. Simmering at first, explosive at the end -

1. exiled from an 'idyllic' rural life

2. incomprehensible new man made environment in the mills

3. specific grievances over pay, working hours & conditions and tyrannical supervision

4. volatile reactions to inflammable minor incidents

and increasingly from 1895 'organised' political strikes.

Egorievsk FactoryIn 1893 the factory of Khludov Brothers in Egorievsk employed over 5,000. A group of women and children from the weaving mill started a riot. A mob formed and crashed into the factory office, broke into the safe, tore up the books, smashed the furniture, pillaged the factory store, and afterwards surged to the private quarters of the administration seeking to kill the English managers.

There was resentment against the foreigners - John Rigg, the director, his son, James, John Bolton, the spinning master, and John Howard (who had been at the factory for eleven years, at an annual salary of 4,500 rubles).

They were unable to speak Russian, and with the exception of Bolton, were of a rude disposition. The English were interested only in increasing profits.

The Khludov owners lived in Moscow and rarely visited the factory.

There was none of the mutual confidence and fairness which the peasant workers cherished. All investigators agreed that there had been ample provocation. The offensive Englishmen were replaced by native personnel.

John Bolton stayed and went on to become a respected director of the company.

Russian Peasants in the Factory 1892-1904 - The Russian Technical Society 1895 - Russia's Cotton Workers and the New Economic Policy 1921-29  

The industrial revolution involved dramatic improvement in productivity; more value for less cost. It was a happening which emerged from a multitude of interactive interconnections in parts of Western Europe around 1700.

 Peter the Great

1698 Peter the Great toured Europe to see for himself how this embryonic revolution might help economic progress back home. His enthusiasm gave impetus to the importation of Western machinery and Western specialists into Russia.

Rapid industrialisation required technology transfer from advanced 'state of the art' industries where were both the quality and cost improvements had already been secured.

But no one had a clue how the technology transfer was best done?

Russia’s experience in cross border technological transfer in cotton provided an opportunity to analyse the extent to which it mirrored the process elsewhere where there was transfer across international and cultural boundaries.

In 1707, after the disastrous misunderstandings of the Darién Project, Scotland managed the industrial revolution with some aplomb; they joined forces with the gravy rain down south.

The contrast with the progress in proud Russia was stark.  

There were, of course, cotton entrepreneurs in Russia but they didn't they cash in on international trade?

1753 a cotton printing & dying works was established in Russia by two English men but was state subsidised and quickly went into decline.

1792 the first cotton manufactory was built, and the first steam engine in 1832. Local entrepreneurs seemed to be ready to 'catch up' on new technology.

1798 a 'model' spinning and weaving plant was established by the government, but how could operating culture be modeled? .

1822 after devastation of the Napoleonic wars high tariffs on imported cloth 'protected' the local weaving industry but competition from English cotton spinning technology stunted local growth.

1825 the emigration of skilled artisans from England was allowed.

1842 the export of English textile machinery was allowed and was freely imported into Russia and cotton spinning expanded rapidly. The entrepreneur behind this dramatic expansion was Ludwig Knoop (1821-94) a merchant & entrepreneur from Bremen, a town steeped in the history of the Hanseatic League.

1844-45 Aleksey I Khludov (1818-82) in cahoots with Knoop visited England to learn the cotton business. His son Ivan A Khludov (1839-1868) also studied cotton in Bremen and England.

1852 L Knoop & Co, Moscow and St Petersburg, was founded with services from De Jersey & Co and the textile machinery
manufacturers, Platt Bros of Oldham, who provided machinery, supervisory personnel and raw cotton.

Russia attempted to cash in on the technological breakthroughs of the late 18th century in Lancashire ... as did North America, Western Europe and the Far East. Of course finance was also needed and substantial credit was forthcoming from England to allow Russia’s cotton spinning sector to expand rapidly. Knoop was able to demonstrate financial viability for his creditors in London.

1860 Khludov Brothers open an office in Liverpool. Russia had become almost self sufficient in yarn production.

Knoop was massively successful and the number of woollen, flax and jute mills in Russia had risen by 1913 to 267.

Alexander II

1860 Alexander II dismantled serfdom and introduced reforms which released the forces of global capitalism.

But the industrial revolution in Russia became a basket case. The significant problem was the tyranny & oppression of 'the powers that be' -

Nationalism and pride under the Tsars from 1860-1917

Communism and 'anti capitalism' under the Marxist from 1917 to date

Under both regimes there remained in place a squeeze on trade with the West reminiscent of the old economics of Mercantilism. The social synergies of specialisation & scale were bound on a tight lease.

Sure the expansion of the Russian cotton industry involved English ownership, technology & superviory personnel. The multistory mills with central engine house and belt driven power transmission typical of Lancashire.

But there were important differences associated with locations & local cultures.

The cotton mills in Russia were built in the countryside. Services to the factories from the peasants; carting, lodgings and fabrications were threatened by in house activities and imports. Small business suppliers were never allowed prosper.

Small holding agriculture and factory life continued in tandem; a splendid isolation. Field & factory were in conflict with divided loyalties and the factories were inefficient. Mill output went down at harvest time.

Mills were also big, very big, and quickly succumbed to the typical problems of congestion and disease.

Catch up was not easy, the mill owners were given an inch but they wanted a mile ... and they wanted their mile without the associated hard work, honesty & thrift.

1877 Knoop was nevertheless created an hereditary Russian Baron, for services rendered. But the was trouble ahead.

1895 The  condemned Knoop for -

'retarding the development of the Russian textile industry'.

The charge was that British textile technology exercised a retarding influence on the industry.

 Although German & Swiss competitors were also in Russia, the charge was of an English monopoly and commercial exploitation. But Knoop was not involved in a conspiratorial malevolent design, rather he relied on his extensive network of technology and finance. The economics was misunderstood, all middle men were hated as profiteers. And there was more; all middle men contributed little and could be by passed?

The usual suspects were identified by Russian Technical Society - inappropriate technology, poor quality, neglect of technical perfection to further low costs and profitability for its own sake and management & working practices were exploitative.

Von Laue, 'Russian Labour between Field & Factory, 1892-1903' -

 'In the eyes of the peasant, the factory was a formidable monster. He could not comprehend its organization and motivation'.

Solving one set of production problems had create others which offended national pride. Low wages and intolerable working conditions.

Jeremy -

 'The empirical nature of the technology made it especially hard to transfer by written description'.

The acquisition of technology could best be achieved through English expatriates as managers, mechanics and skilled operatives. But there were associated cultural problems; lucrative positions were filled by foreigners, who had themselves to learn how to manage in a different environment, and pass on 'know how' to locals and do themselves out of a job, thus creating a communication barrier. The locals retreaded into excessive drinking!

Theory was passed on rather easily but practice was a different matter. Indigenisation was no solution. Dependency and foreign control or bureaucratic paralysis were not easy alternatives.

Technology transfer was not a facile process.

Marxist Leninist Revolution

1917 Marxists inherited the vast cotton mills of St Petersburg and the Central Industrial Region which had been built and operated by expatriates from Oldham, Burnley and Manchester.

Marx and Lenin were students of the industrial revolution in the west and they concluded the production problem had been solved. Production was a prerequisite for socialism. The assumption was that the technology of Lancashire was easily and reliably transferred to Russia. Any failing in Russia was a direct result of the tsarist conspiracy. 

But playing catch up proved yet again to be fraught. Imitation can never reliable copy the necessary & sufficient causes. The most efficient way forward for others was through colonisation of the extensive trading network and particularly the self sustaining capital accumulation for project funding.

Colonisation was a natural biological process by which a species spreads to new areas. There was no necessary requirement for the spread of successful cultural custom & practice to stop at national borders. Tort Laws & human rights enabled the flow cultural ideas which was only stopped by the guns of the looting machines

Joining the survival synergy gravy train was never a possibility under the intensely proud and arrogant autocracies of the Tsars and the Marxists.

'Plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose'. As with the tsars the bane of the Marxists life was bureaucracy; administrative inefficiency.


The smychka was an alliance between proletariat & peasants, ending confiscatory policies toward the peasantry and allowing limited private enterprise. The smychka meant gaining the peasants' trust by recognizing and meeting their needs through industrialisation. The aim was to win them over to socialism by rapid availability of consumer goods. The cotton mills were to lead the industrialisation as they had done in Lancashire.

Some of the peasants now worked in chaotic poverty in the factories instead of chaotic poverty on the farms. Crowd trouble was brewing most of the time. There was friction between field & factory, a cultural and economic mismatch which smychka was intended to alleviate.

The New Economic Policy

1921 Vladimir Lenin introduced the NEP to restore the smychka. Was this a policy of 'privatisation' 70 years before Margaret Thatcher?

But the mill mangers were circumscribed by statutes, directives, unions, trusts, councils, committees, amendments, advisers, party congress & state agencies ... all had fingers in the pie and all attempts at 'laissez faire' under the NEP were stifled by a bureaucratic nightmare of cross currents, illusions, misunderstandings and chaos ... no one knew what was going on (a sort of fatal conceit).

For those not involved war & revolution meant flight back to the land and self sufficiency or more likely famine & disease. But the cotton workers endured less trauma than most and were never really divorced from the villages, and returned to factory work quickly or never left it. Although there was a scramble for jobs, by 1925 there were shortages of skilled labour for the factories.

Bureau of Labour 'controlled' employment and allocation. Bureaucratic failure. Skills were short, mills hired at the factory gates. Kin selection and job inheritance came ahead of ideological class or egalitarian edicts.

1922 training was a matter for the 11th Party Congress ... it was not a matter for mill managers.

Money or vodka were required to secure a training certificate of competence on machines that didn't exist in the mills.

The bureaucrats pretended to pay the workers, and the workers pretended to work.

Apart from the enthusiastic Bolsheviks the Party, the Union & Religion were only lukewarm organising influences for the peasants.

The Scissors Crisis

1923 the crisis ... as Lenin withdrew from public life the economy collapsed in a heap of bureaucratic chaos. Trotsky persevered at Gosplan. The bureaucratic mess was immense. Workers returned to the land. Price fixing in factories pushed retail prices up which confronted laissez fair in agriculture and as gain export prices fell, cotton imports became unaffordable. Russia was caught in the scissors. The blame was laid on Balanced Budgets and the collapse of capitalist markets.

To appease the peasants prices of textiles were cut just as the burden of taxes on the factories rose. No skilled labour, no raw materials, no supplies, no retail distribution system, more bureaucrats ... and unemployment. And women couldn't be unemployed it that was immoral. All statistics were fixed, no one had a clue what was going on. The unemployed didn't pay taxes so folk registered as unemployed. No one knew what unemployment was. But there were masses of statistics.

An iron curtain of self sufficiency or integration with the western markets and their industrial revolution?

 Frederick Winslow Taylor

The Bolsheviks were predisposed towards and both Lenin & Trotsky supported Taylorism and 'the movement for the scientific organisation of labor' was enthusiastically embraced in the 1920s and 1930s. 

The industrial revolution had solved the production problem in America and two wars and two revolutions had ruined Russia's production; they needed to copy the American solution. Furthermore the old industrial structure had been removed by the revolution in 1917; it needed to be replaced. And of course socialism was impossible unless the there was ample production to socialise. Smychka needed production to pacify the peasants.

American experts were imported as well as American engineering firms to build parts of the new industrial infrastructure.

But there was no user manual to hand over. Back in America there was constant investment and innovation as 'know how' continuously improved. Russia was a productivity disaster as information overload fed impatient instructions from above ... which were ignored. 

The Central Institute of Labour under Alexie Gastev started to instruct the factories how to spin cotton. Furthermore the Time League would teach Russians how to be punctual!

But intent never guaranteed implementation.

'I've been in this mill for 30 years and now you want to tell me how to work'!

 The bureaucrats pretended to pay the workers, and the workers pretended to work ... and the peasants were restless ...

Real wages were determined by productivity, but policy, market forces and traditional custom & practice determined differentials. Were piece rates paid if the mill ran out of materials? The Central Council rewarded skills but the Unions in the provinces simple ignored it. Wage drift and chaos in every 'different' mill bred trouble. Was this an embarrassing conflict between worker & state? Strikes were common. Measurement simply became a focus of dispute, productivity deals never materialised.

'In 1922 workers were on strike in the Egor'evsk district over late payment which seriously interfered with production. Weavers were dismissed as an example to the rest'.

State and Unions were in trouble accused of bureaucracy and self interest.


Next the workers themselves became the focus of effort. 1925 a policy of 'uplotnenie', tightening up the working day, was underway but legislating efficiency was as daft as legislating wealth. Bitter strikes followed, often the Union was ignored. Output dropped as wages rose; pay went up faster than productivity! Local leap frogging. Productivity agreements paid up front for efficiencies that never materialised. Quality suffered to raise output. Leveling up was the attempted norm. Specifications and standards were out of date before they were issued. Standardisation or devolution? What was the slogan of the day? Instructions from above came out of the blue, consultations were a safety value to discuss the condition of the urinals. Drift & confusion led to chaos. There was no mechanism of control, no institutional checks & balances, no common interest. Of course in all this administrative chaos, technology and innovation were also rans. 

'We fight one against the other, though each knows that it is necessary to get organised'.

Taylorism and the measurement of work elicited many and varied shop floor responses all contributing to divisiveness and 'them & us' - helplessness, alienation, demarcations, more supervision, disputed numbers, focus of discontent, lower quality, exceptionals, the blame game of poor machines, poor materials, poor services, poor training, more accidents ... no innovation ... no cooperation ... resorted to shock brigades ... growing your own tomatoes was often a better less stressful option!

'we don't know how best to work anymore, we need permission to adjust machines, production spies were everywhere'.

'Russian labour for English profit'.

The 'komplekt', the operating team of different skills & machines & processes in the cotton mills resulted in everybody interacting with everyone else and influencing output which determined pay. A set up ripe for strife.

The biggest problem was labour discipline; folk just didn't do as they were told and went AWOL. Drunkenness, not invented here, factional infighting,

A cast of thousands were everywhere to 'help' mill managers follow the directives. Party, unions, councils, committees ...

  By 1929 the NEP was coming apart at the seams.

The sequence of preserving agricultural production whilst converting the peasants to socialism required consumer goodies (smychka) and cotton was the best bet leader. Affordability required commercial viability of the mills; productivity. Capital investment, Taylorism & labour intensification (uplotnenie) were the chosen strategies. Specification of best practice was impossible to implement because of dramatic cultural differences between custom & practice in each mill and each location. Crowd trouble was not pacified by team working (komplekt) nor shock brigades; traditional work communities could not be broken down, there no blank slate (tabula rasa). There were choices, but workers themselves were seen as the problem and Stalin plumped for top down forced collectivisation and dogma; the rest was rhyming history. 

Stalin, Collectivisation and The Five Year Plans

Time for new initiatives; in 1929 the NEP was eventually succeeded by Stalin's collectivisation and Five Year Plans. But crowd trouble was around smychka was an empty word and Stalin's bloody conflict continued until 1989.

When you're in a hole stop digging.

The concepts of the Five Year Plan and the centrally planned economy can be traced directly to the influence of Taylorism on Soviet thinking. As scientific management was believed to epitomize American efficiency, Joseph Stalin even claimed that 'the combination of the Russian revolutionary sweep with American efficiency was the essence of Leninism'.

American 'know how' was imported into the USSR during the period before the Cold War. As the Soviet Union developed and grew in power, both the Soviets and the Americans tended to ignore the technology transfer; the Soviets because they proudly craved self sufficiency and the Americans because they had embarrassingly helped a rival. Anti communism was popular in America, and anti capitalism in Russia. After the war it was usual to deny that technologies or ideas were freely shared or clandestinely stolen.

Gastev the force behind Taylorism continued to promote this system of management until his arrest and execution in 1939.


 Lysenko was the director of the Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.
From the late 1920s until 1964 he began to sponsor strategies to increase agricultural production based on theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics. These Lamarckian theories were contrary to the accepted evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance. Agricultural production failed catastrophically, due to both Lysenko policy and the massive crisis caused by the rapid switching from an peasant agrarian based economy towards an industrial factory economy.
He claimed tripled or quadrupled crop yield by exposing wheat seed to high humidity and low temperature.
A strong supporter of Marx & Lenin he mixed politics with science ... and got both wrong!
Lysenko's credibility came solely from the political hope that heredity played a limited role in human development; that future generations, living under socialism, would be purged of their bourgeois instincts. In 1948, genetics was officially declared 'a bourgeois pseudoscience' and all geneticists were fired from their jobs, and all genetic research was discontinued.

No one grasped the economic reality that market prices were necessary to clear all markets and fixing any price led inexorably to expensive gluts & queues. 

Khrushchev designs

1959 during a visit to America Nikita Khrushchev wanted to meet the designer of the American computer industry, hoping to emulate the success in Russia. The point was nobody was 'in charge'. One person could assemble the multitude of parts, but one person could never understand how to make a computer ... from scratch ... hundreds of different technologies were involved ...

Perestroika & Glasnost

1989 Gorbachev, perestroika & glasnost ... another failure?

'Russian Peasants in the Factory 1892-1904' by Theodore H Von Laue, 1961.

'The Russian Technical Society & British Textile Machinery Imports' by Stuart Thompstone, 2002.

'Russia's Cotton Workers and the New Economic Policy: Shop Floor Culture and State Policy, 1921-29' by Chris Ward, 2002.

'The Human Side of Enterprise' by Douglas McGregor was not written until 1960.

'The Groundnut Affair' by Alan Wood was not written until 1950.

PS Bureaucratic Inefficiency

By 2000 the WTO was moribund and by 2015 Scotland wanted to leave the 1707 Union ... in the UK the NHS and state education were massively inefficient bureaucracies unable to exploit available technology ... they failed to join the productivity gravy train and messed up ... the spread of new technology was hindered just as Silicon Valley powered ahead, the bureaucracies failed as Google, Apple, Genentech went into the health & education business ... they had a great product everyone wanted health & education ... 


Technology Transfer, Organisational Learning, Unilever in the 1970/80s.

Unilever World DevelopmentTechnology transfer involved the entire process for the application of science to meet business objectives. From R&D to the Factory to the customer. The capacity to learn how to extract & use knowledge & skill from others; 'know how'.

The old scientific management evolved from Taylorism, named after Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) of the stop watch fame, was essentially all about the specification and application of best practice. Traditionally most attempts to improve the performance of manufacturing units and the business they supported involved the application of scientific logic & best practice instructions. It was expected that the intractable problems in organisations would respond to scientific principles and reasoned logic. Encouraged by conventional academic scientific education and much business training, Taylorism was not the only game. It was closely followed by Fordism and the mechanical conveyor belt which was designed to remove the human element from work.

Specification & application of best practice was based on an all pervading long held belief in 'intelligent design' and suggested decision making involved -

evidence was accumulated & evaluated and the future consequences were thought through 

decisions were supported by interpretations of the evidence, sound judgments, and instructions to produce the desired result were then issued 

physical actions were then undertaken as variables were manipulated to achieve the desired result.

Preferred outcomes resulted from a plausible linear process of logical cause & effect - an  imagined outcome was implemented by acting on plans and instructions. It was the rationale for all for top down authority in hierarchical command & control systems. Deliberate, rational, purposeful, intentional planning ...

This approach applied to malfunctions of in factories and also to budgetary control of costs and quality.

Sometimes there was faltering progress but often efforts collapse in a heap of chaos, complexity & change. Permanent real improvement was elusive. Disciplined scientific procedures based on irrefutable logic can & do fail. There was frequent backsliding and repetition of past mistakes. Organisations seem to be poor learners.

This experience was widespread; acclaimed breakthroughs, after later scrutiny were revealed to be a figment of inflated egos.

Taylorism & Fordism probably peaked around 1930 but they hung on long past their sell by date. This was the way folk tended to think they thought, and think they ought to thing ... it was the only belief in town.

Darwin's strange inversion of reason had changed everything after 1859 ... but things were slow, slow, what had the beaks of finches to do with hairy engineers in factories?

An alternative belief was based on the evolution of ideas and suggested human intention was a learning process ultimately based on culturally inherited 'know how' and trial & error experiments  –

evidence was an individual perception of tacit, massively diverse, dispersed & incomplete information where complex future consequences & responses were an unknowable part of a complex adaptive system

decisions were trial & error thought experiments generated in the imagination and alternatives maybe better 

physical actions were trial & error experiments where successful outcomes differentially survived, replicated & grew out of a diversity of options

Survival resulted from a counterintuitive non-linear process of adaptation - the discovery & accumulation of survival tricks. The population frequency of ideas with survival benefits increased at the expense of less viable alternatives. 

In this way some of the conventional wisdoms were challenged. Where interactions were complex the relevance of reductionism was questioned. Issuing instructions did not lead to successful implementation. The simplistic assumptions of cause & effect and the detectability of events were inadequate.

As more textbook theory was propagated and applied, and more techniques developed, the limitations of linear science in human activity systems became transparent.

This was not destructive criticism of linear science, some progress was real and obvious and scientific knowledge and reasoned logic did solve problems. It was the very success and power of science which made these limitations both frustrating and interesting. It was the obvious problem solving capacity of all pervading science and reason which made the failures of logical analysis in human activity systems all the more challenging.

The real world seemed to progress by processes other than science and logic alone. There is a need to understand these other processes. Practising managers were always aware of these issues but sometimes remained silent in the face of the conventions. They were either afraid to step out of line or perplexed by the lack of a plausible alternative. It was the experiments at the General Electric Hawthorn Works in Chicago in 1924-32 that finally destroyed the myth of inhuman work.

The business process was a Complex Adaptive System where feedback was crucial as causes were also effects -

systems were both complex & dynamic - technology was a flow of 'know how', it was not a discrete package that could be simply handed over. Expertise areas required careful definition, focus and nurture.

information was always incomplete and inadequate. Understanding was not the same as specific knowledge; tacit knowledge and skill were involved.

customers were fickle. A discovery process must establish not only customer needs & desires but also how they can be satisfied at a profit for future investment.

 Alternatives abounded. Competing solutions and competitive suppliers continually presented difficult decisions and judgments. There was seldom only one best way to proceed.

Experiments and responses had to be orgainised; from customer research, invention, design, procurement, investment, development, testing and marketing. Competitive advantage and expertise grew as the product flowed to the market place. A team of disciplines were necessary at each stage of the project.

Four basic problems had to be confronted -

conflict - organisations were driven not by logic but emotion and vested interests. Where knowledge and expertise existed it was distorted and dissipated in a confusion of 'shoe lace tying' and 'Chinese whispers'.

complexity - arrogant and vain attempts to specify and codify dynamic skills and tacit knowledge soaked up enormous resources and were bound to fail.

change - it was the ubiquitous propensity for uncertainty & change which destroyed all attempts to rationally design static organisations; flexibility was essential. This problem was not only the random acts of nature and unpredictable people, it was also the difficulties of communication between millions of interacting decision makers.

scarcity - there ware no free lunches. Capability had to be built not begged, borrowed or stolen.

The reality was that organisations could learn & improve, and progress was most obvious when associated with -

culture - deep rooted custom & practice that 'worked'

charisma - leadership was fickle, the 'best' leaders move on

crisis - bankruptcy was fickle, distinguishing between a failed experiment and fraud was difficult

hype - dogma was fickle, there was always more folk saying than doing

It was culture that had lasting comprehensive benefits. The biggest threat to evolving an appropriate culture were the attempts to manage solutions; cultures were grown.

Two difficulties -

inadequate knowledge of what was needed

opportunistic tendencies of some to be parasitic & predatory

required solutions based on Darwin's insights -

 responsiveness - avoid the arrogance of 'engineering' or 'designing' comprehensive solutions when the future is unknowable. A better bet was to concentrate on speed and flexibility of response, rewarding open minds and experiment.

immunity from opportunistic rewards - avoid the folly of providing other people's money for self indulgent ego trips.

Focus on rewarding results.

The key was responsive adaptive organisations immune from internal treachery. Individuals & organisations learn when it helps their own survival.

The Joint Stock Company evolved and based rewards on satisfying the free choice of customers; this has proved to be a most appropriate institution.

The business strategy enhanced progress through cooperation in securing synergies of specialisation and scale -


economies of scale



Progress was stabilised when assimilated into the organisation culture which spawned generations of incumbents.

The tactics -

remove blockages to diversity

question & challenge, search for mistakes from the evidence of experiments

evaluate inherent stability & responsiveness to customer value

make effective decisions faster

continuous improvement

Avoid dirigisme -

Inflexible - no knowledge of complexity & change

Inefficient - no competitive advantage alternatives

Ineffective - no customer value advantage.

no control loop nor immunity from internal treachery.

Master Project Organisation -

Commitment & Organisation
- the operating company boss in the chair, tight discipline
- resources up front, matched to business priorities

Real Problems & Opportunities
- driven by the customer

Relevant Technology
- 'docking' of problem and solution

Focus & Scope
- clear quantified task objectives, short reporting periods
- attention to the total system, from conception to completion

Small Customer Led Teams
- delegated responsibility
- all necessary disciplines

Problem Solving approach
- real data, no opinions
- logical analysis, creative alternatives

Clear Decisions
-implement and audit

Early Wins, Controlled Life
- success breeds success, chase profits
- cut loses

- team working, everybody inside the tent
- full use of potential, horses for courses, projects dictate the expertise assembled, multiple sources, contracts and secondments
- select for initiative and sensitivity, high exposure and therefore risk
- reward success


Any corrections and additional information gratefully received contact john p birchall

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