What were the effects of working in a textile factory?
Working conditions were poor. Early factories were often dangerous, unhealthy and miserable places. The whole system was new and untried. Cotton manufacture required high temperatures to prevent the thread snapping. The steam engines also made factories hot. Dangerous machinery was not fenced off. There were no safety regulations. http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/pollute.jpg
Going ‘out to work’ It meant: For factory owners: →finding ways of organizing large numbers of people → and making a profit. For employees: → keeping to time; → going out to work every weekday; → splitting up the family for the first time.
Who were the workers? http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/scavenger2.jpg
Who were the workers? http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/scavenger2.jpg Illustration of scavengers and piecers at work that appeared in Edward Baines' book The History of Cotton Manufacture (1835) (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/IRscavener1.JPG)
Who were the workers? Men got higher wages. Women got lower wages. Children got lower wages were employed in the factories from a very early age. could crawl under machines, without having to turn them off. http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/scavenger2.jpg
Who were the workers? Women and children could do most of the work since little muscle power was needed. were employed because they were cheaper. http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/scavenger2.jpg
New jobs Overseers were often experienced workers, who supervised other workmen. were employed to check that work was being done properly. were usually paid on the basis of how much was produced by the workers of which they were in charge.
New jobs Scavengers were children who picked up waste cotton or wool under the machines while these ones were working. This job was very dangerous. Piecers were children who had to lean over the spinning-machine to repair the broken threads.
Fines Many factories had strict rules so punishments were very harsh. Fines were common. The threat of dismissal was real. Children and adults were beaten: for making mistakes or falling asleep. Corporal punishment was often used by the overseers to encourage better work.
A list of fines in a Manchester factory, 1840 NOTICE List of Fines For opening a window 1l For being dirty at work 1l For leaving an oil can out of place 1l For being five minutes after the bell 1l For having waste on the spindles 1l For whistling at work 1l 1l (= one shilling)
Perspective of people at the time Workers coming into factories from agricultural work were used to working very long hours in difficult conditions. They were also used to their children working. In many families the children’s wages were vital to life. But agricultural workers were not used to working to the clock. Being five minutes late: in a field meant nothing, in a factory cost the employer money in wasted steam.
Improvements came only after many working people had experienced years of hardship and distress.
Bibliography Text adapted from: HAMER, Rachel: Life and Work in 19th Century Britain, Depth Studies, Heinemann History, 1995, pages 6-7 KELLY, Nigel, REES, Rosemary; SHULTER, Jane: Britain 1750- 1900, Living through History, page 43 SMITH, Nigel: The Industrial Revolution, Serie Events and Outcomes, Evans, 2002, page 39 http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Textiles.htm Photos taken from internet: http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/pollute.jpg http://www.uen.org/utahlink/tours/admin/tour/15131/15131Factory.gif http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/scavenger2.jpg http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/IRscavener1.JPG Maria del Roser Pujadas Jubany Llicència C 2006-2007
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