A Visit to Lancashire
Gandhi sailed to England in August 1931 to attend the Second Round Table Conference. There was no real will on the part of the British Government to grant independence to India and efforts were made to undermine Gandhi's claim to represent all his people, and the problem which dogs India and Pakistan to this day was already overwhelmingly apparent: the division between Hindus and Muslims. No satisfactory conclusion was reached. Gandhi however accepted the invitation issued by Mr Corder Catchpool of Greenfield Mill and took the opportunity to visit Lancashire and see for himself the effects India's boycott on cotton goods had had on the workers there.
He arrived at Spring Vale Station near Darwen shortly after eleven at night on Friday September 26th on the express from London. The crowd that awaited him was several thousand strong. By destiny or design his simple peasant image combined with his reputation as the spiritual leader of millions made him irresistable. Maybe for many, consciously or unconsciously he evoked comparisons with Jesus Christ himself. The crowds who had been waiting at Darwen Station were disappointed to learn he had disembarked at Spring Vale.
He was driven by car to the house of Mr Charles Haworth at Garden Village. A local newspaper reported him as having 'the legal eye and forehead - an eye piercing as a rapier - of moderate physique and slender proportions . . . with the appearance of being rather tired.' Shortly after entering the house, the light in his bedroom was switched on. The police maintained a large presence under the Assistant Chief Constable for Lancashire, Mr R Askew.
He was out of bed by half past six the following morning and meeting groups of unemployed cotton workers as soon as he had had his breakfast. Later he met the Mayor (Councillor W Knowles) and representatives from Greenfiled Mill and Manchester. In the afternoon he was taken to West Bradford to Heys Farm Guest House, where he was entertained by Mr and Mrs J P Davies. He left for London on Sunday night.Gandhi was received with sympathy and affection by the Lancashire cotton workers, even though they were the ones hit hardest by the boycott. It was a sympathy and affection that he returned.