He visits Cromford Mill to discover how cotton ushered in the industrial revolution and grew to dominate British exports for well over a century.
He examines how the trade changed the face of 19th-century British politics. From the Peterloo massacre to the American Civil War, he tells the story of cotton's role in winning the vote for the masses.
He sets out to demolish the myth that life in the Lancashire cotton towns was all flat caps and rickets, arguing that the workers in the mill towns enjoyed the most developed leisure economy in the world.
He describes how the decline of the industry shaped Lancashire as dramatically as its birth, leaving a multi-cultural population as its lasting legacy.