An Introduction to the History In the early 1700’s the good quality cotton was in great demand. At this time weaving was done at home by families and was a very slow process. Sometimes, no profit was made on the cloth because it could not always be sold. Weaving was improved by the invention of the flying shuttle invented by John Kay. Although the ‘flying shuttle’ sped up the process of weaving, it wasn’t until 1765 when James Hargreaves invented ‘the spinning jenny’ that weaving was greatly improved. The spinning jenny could spin 16-18 threads instead of just one, like in previous years. After this, ‘spin off’ were made e. g.
Arkwrights ‘waterframe’ or Edmund Cartwrights ‘powerloom’. These were all heavy and big machines that could not be used at home anymore. Knowing this, mill owners like Samuel Greg and Richard Arkwright invested in mills and machinery. They then employed people from local villages and towns. Sometimes children and orphans were employed to do jobs like cleaning under machines and carrying baskets. But how were the workers treated and what was the main aim of their work? Mills in the 17-1800’s With mills getting bigger and the rate of which colossal machinery was progressing, lots of cheap workers were needed to operate these machines
for long hours. These people were the poor people of the cites. The underdogs of the newly founded capitalist society that was sweeping the world, separating once equal people into different social classes known from then on as “rich” and “poor”. This made it extremely hard for the undertrodden, dismissed, ragged, poor people to make any kind of profit, let alone a substantial one. So when the opportunity of working in a factory came about, these people came flooding in to the mills, not knowing what to expect.
As most of them were illiterate, they just simply put the letter ‘x’ at the bottom of forms without knowing that what they were sighing was a contract enabling the factory owners to make the workers work how many hours THEY wanted them to work for, for as much pay as THEY wanted to give them and to treat the workers how the owners feel THEY want to treat them. This same thing happened all over England; this is what the factory owners had been waiting for. The industrial revaluation was here, and the factory owners were in business. Most of the people that were inployed were children as young as 6 or seven whos job it was to go under machinery and tie loose threads.
The conditions in most cases were very poor. Robert Blincoe said in his statement against Litton mill, “As soon as you walked in you were confrontedwith the defoning noise of heavy machinery. The air was suffocating, as it was so thick with dust. The smell was unbearable. The whole place was diseaseridden. ” other accounts by apprentices were similar, but accounts by children who werestill working in mills are unreliable due to the fact that they might havelost their jobs if they had spoken out about the mills and what they might REALLY have been like.
But the ones who did speak out, told of the punishments at the time. A boys account of what happent to his friend after he had tried to escape was “he had big weights hung from his ears and was made to work with them on all day. ” other punishments were also in force at the time such as: children who did not get up in time were made to work naked throughout the day, girls hair would be cut off if their work was not up to a satisfactory standard, and for boys, they would be beaten with a leather belt. But it is not fair to say that all factory owners were like this.
E. g. in 1840 Titus Salt built good houses for his workers. He also built a school, a hospital, a shop and a chapel all to ensure that his workers worked to the best of their ability. Eventually, this turned into a workers village that is stills their now and descendants of the workers still live there today. Robert Owen built a school for his apprentices and reduced the working day to 12 hours. Another man who is well known for looking after his workers is Samuel Greg. Greg set up a mill in the village of style.
Here is information that I have gathered through lessons and a field trip to the mill itself to try and tell you what his workers were treated Greg’s Generosity Samuel Greg (founder of style mill) tried to do as much as he could to keep the workers satisfied. As well as employing people who already live in the village, he built decent houses with allotments for the workers so that they could grow food for themselves. He also built an apprentice house to house orphans from poor houses in Manchester or from poorer families of the village.
There was always plenty of food in the apprentice house at style. This usually consisted of oatmeal porridge; this was given 3 times a day. In the evenings this was accompanied by potato’s. Workers could have as much of this as they wanted, so they would not go hungry and start slacking at work. They would work from about 6:ooam to 7:00pm in winter and until 9:00am in summer. Their jobs would be picking up loose threads and carrying baskets. The children at style were given an education. Boys leant to read and write whilst girls learnt to sow.
Greg wanted to give his workers a religious view of life. He sent them to church every Sunday and provided them with respectable. It is debatable whether he did this to look good in the community or that he is was a religious man and wanted other generation to see ‘the light’. One theory that passed through my mind is that maybe he used the power of belief to almost scare his workers. As if to say ‘ do as you are told, or god will punish you! ‘ As radical a claim it might sound, it is a possibility. Its is also debatable that he did ALL these tings (i. e. lookingafter the workers so well) for money.
Maybe he was thinking of the long-term possibilities, or maybe even a reputation for being ‘Mr nice’. But it is my belief that although making money was his main aim, Samuel Greg looked after his workers because he cared for them. Working at style meant lower wages that in the cities, but better quality of life. There was cleaner air and water, which meant less chance of epidemics like cholera or typhoid. He made it so that in the long term, his workers would look back and see that it wasn’t a bad place compared with other mills at that time.