At the beginning of the 18th century, one invention led to such dramatic changes in the way goods were produced that we now know as the ‘Industrial Revolution. ‘ For example, in 1698 steam was used to drive a pump to remove water from the tin mines in Cornwall. In the next hundred years, improvements to this ‘steam engine’ meant that it could be used to drive machinery in a factory. Now that there was a reliable source of power, factories sprang up, and Britain began its ‘Industrial Revolution’. The traditional method of farming was called the ‘Open Field System. ‘ It was very wasteful.
The advanced land around the village was normally divided into three great fields. Every year, all the farmers had to grow the same crops; wheat (for bread) in one field, and barley (for ale) in another. Because the strips were widely scattered, it was difficult to move equipment between the strips. The third field was left fallow (nothing grown) so that the soil could recover. Another underused area was the common land. This was left as a place for the villagers to gather free firewood, fruit, berries, and to graze their animals. Once the population began to rise, there were more people needing food.
Landowners needed more control over their own land before they could introduce more efficient farming methods. They started to swap strips to join their lands in larger units. If they could not agree, the larger landowners could get Parliament to pass an Enclosure Act to force the redistribution of the land. Some farmers like, Viscount Townshend adopted the Norfolk four course rotation of crops. These crops were swapped around the fields every year. Other farmers experimented with new machinery. Jethro Tull invented a seed drill. Tull later invented a horse-drawn hoe.
These changes in farming had far reaching effects. The quantity of food produced increased and the quality also improved, which helped the population grow. Many of the products of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ were heavy and bulky. Such goods are difficult and expensive to transport. For these reasons, transport was very important during the ‘Industrial Revolution. ‘ Most goods in 1750 were transported by road on horses, pack horses, carts, and stagecoaches. But the roads were in very poor conditions. As a demand for better transport grew, some people saw possible profit in building better roads.
Acts of Parliament gave them permission to charge tolls (fees) to all the travellers who used certain roads. Stagecoaches took on the use of better roads and it took less time to travel across the towns. The roads were metalled. Eventually, rivers were widened and deepened, and the first great development came with the arrival of the canal age, which produced a complex network linking the manufacturing districts with each other and with London and the chief ports. Canals were the way to travel for half a century until George Stevenson guided in the years of railway, and suddenly the movement of goods became faster and more effective.
Then, when sail gave away to steam in the high seas, the transport revolution was complete. In this essay I am going to conclude whether or not Quarry Bank Mill is a typical example of manufacture and production in a British factory of the late eighteenth century, providing the evidence I give, to help me conjure my opinion. Factory work was not popular in the late 18th century. People were not used to regular employment, and though a loyal and stable workforce was needed, it was difficult to find. At Styal there was a limited supply of local labour, and so most workers came on foot from the surrounding area.
As the mill grew, large numbers of workers had to be bought from farther afield. These included children and families from London and Norfolk. Whole families were contracted to work at the mill. There were many jobs and duties available in the Mill. These included; the Mill Manager, and the Overlookers who were in charge of each room. Operated machinery could be found within each room which prepared the raw cotton. There was the ‘Carders’, of whom the men worked the machines to straighten the cotton fibres. The women and children were in charge of the machine that drew out the cotton, and this machine was called the ‘Drawers and Rovers.
And finally in this room, was the ‘Bobbin Winders’, and the children spun thread onto the bobbins for the creel frame. There was a room for spinning and weaving as well. The Styal apprentices appear to have lived better than many of their disapprovals. In towns in particular many apprentices lived and worked in appalling conditions. There is a great deal of dust in taking out the coarse cotton. The workers breath was taken away sometimes with the cough, and it was especially bad in the night. In the cotton spinning work, the workers are kept fourteen hours each day, locked up summer and winter, in a heat of 80 to 85 degrees.
They had no cool room to retreat to, and not a moment to wipe off their sweat, and not a breath to come between them and infection. There was an abominable stink of gas, mixed with the steam. There was the dust, and what was called cotton flying… well constituted men were pictured old and past labour at forty years of age, and that children were portrayed decaying and deformed, and thousands of them were slaughtered by using up before they arrived at the age of sixteen. The working conditions were very crowded, and very dangerous.
A source from Quarry Bank Mill tells us that, working in factories was very noisy, and smelled really bad. The floors were messy, and the dangers were unexplainable, there were lots of health problems, as a piece of evidence says, “I suffered greatly with thirst and hunger. ” (1) This piece of evidence I would have to say is relatively reliable, but the person could be exaggerating. In comparison to other mills, the working conditions were just as bad in other mills as well as Styal. An apprentice from Cressbrook Mill said, “We went to our work at six in the morning without anything at all to eat or fire to warm us.
For about a year after I went, we never stopped for breakfast. We stopped working at twelve o’clock, and had an hour for dinner, but ad the cleaning to do during that time. (2) This quote tells us that the working times and breaks were atrocious and very harsh. Quarry Bank Mill was quite good at telling us about the working conditions, because they showed us some demonstrations of how the machines work, and the dangers that were there for each machine. The evidence was presented as reliable, because there was written evidence provided with the information upon how it was run.
Also there were photos with machines on one floor for each process. There were a few anachronisms including safety barriers and lights, followed by the demonstration powered by electricity. The machines tell us about work in a textile factory in the 19th century that hearing the sound of the machine brings how loud the room must have been with all the machines working at once. I think the museum does slightly tell us about the period of time we want, because there were books with dates going as far back as 1858, like an attendance book.
At Styal Mill the living conditions were generally better than that experienced in the towns. The houses that Samuel Gregg built at Styal were similar to those built in the towns, with inadequate sanitation, such houses quickly became slums. Styal’s houses were separated by courts and alleys; ‘back to back’ type houses were never built here. “The houses at Styal are commodious, clean, whitewashed and in every respect superior to the habitations for a similar class of labourers in the town… which are filthy. ” (3) At Quarry Bank Mill, each cottage had is own allotment, and every house had a privy.
Many of the houses were totally undrained, and stagnant waste piled up around them. The rents paid at Styal were lower than in the towns as they were based on agricultural rates. Records show that an average of 8 people lived in each cottage in Styal (1844 – 53). The cellars were rented separately, usually to widows. It is possible that Samuel Gregg saw Quarry Bank as a self-contained operation. Unlike those in the Styal, the cellars in the urban slums were rented out to large numbers of the poorest people, so overcrowding was common. “There are eight women in the apartment and nine children. (4)
There was a village shop that opened in the 1820s, and stocked the staple foods of factory workers all over England like flour, potatoes, and bacon. Household goods were sold. The Greg’s enjoyed interest on the money they invested. The living conditions at other mills were vastly overrated. In the cotton industry most workers earned a fixed wage; but spinners were paid piece rates so that when there was a slump in trade wages would be reduced. The wages paid at Quarry Bank Mill were lower than those paid at Manchester and Stockport, but the standard of living of the workforce could well have been higher.
Women were generally paid less than men. It is interesting to compare wages paid at Quarry Bank Mill with those commanded by other occupations. The average weekly wages at Quarry Bank Mill in 1831 for male carders were 17/- to 18/-, and female spinners were paid 6/6d. The reelers were paid 5/- to 10/-, and the mechanics were paid 18/- to 22/-. However, the average weekly wages in Manchester in 1832 for shoemakers was 15/- to 16/-, and the carpenters were paid 24/-. Tailors were paid 18/-, whilst Labourers were only paid 12/-.
But still, the wages in Manchester were a lot higher than the wages at Styal. In the wages room at the Styal, the room told us how wages were processed and what equipment was used in the offices. The room was good at getting the message across as it looked precise, along with an accurate presentation. The evidence was presented as reliable, as it was taken from surviving records. In spite of this, the room showed us more of the business side of running the mill. “I was nigh on nine years of age when I first went to piece. I got 2/6d (12 1/2 p) at first. ” (5)
The Apprentices lived in the Apprentice House and were looked after by a superintendent and his wife. In addition to food and lodging, a doctor attended to their needs and education was also provided. A questionnaire was given to the superintendent… “How many children had you under your superintendence when you first came? Seventy-three when we first came and now sixty-seven; but we had as many as ninety-seven… the average number is eighty-five. ” (6) They employed children starting at the age of nine years as they were small enough to get in between the machines. This was known as cheap labour.
The Apprentice House was very good at getting the message across, as the guide in a period costume, promoted Samuel Gregg’s humanitarian side, including education. Also there was a demonstration upon punishment, but they didn’t have corporal punishment. I think the evidence was presented as very reliable as it say’s it was built in the 1790’s, and housed up to 90 children, whom learnt to write in sand trays. They used goose feather quills, of which on our visit we were allowed to try them. From the evidence given by Superintendents of the Apprentice House, it appears that girls are educated in reading and writing less than boys.
Girls were taught to sew, enabling them to make clothes and shirts for the boys. “The ladies teach the girls, and the schoolmaster, the boys. The ladies taught the children on a Sunday afternoon. ” (7) There were a few anachronisms, such as: electric lighting in the original looking lanterns, smoke alarms and a fireguard. The room used for the presentation was purely guesswork, however from the account records; we know four teachers were employed. In the dormitory, up to 60 girls slept there (two a bed as recommended by Health and Moral of Apprentices Act).
He left his notes behind, and in the notes were that, in 1830 the smallpox vaccines were used. Food and herbs would have been dried in the attic and he used poultices for healing. There were only 25 deaths in 60 years, because it was healthier at the Styal than compared to other mills. “There were many good beds in each room and we had clean sheets oftener than once a month, our blankets and our rugs were perfectly clean, the rooms were whitewashed once a year, and were aired everyday.
We had clean shirts every Sunday and new clothes when we wanted them. ” (8) However, at other mills, children did not go to school, so they didn’t have the knowledge the children had at Quarry Bank Mill. They didn’t know how to read and write. Also, at other mills the food wasn’t exactly a high standard. They only got leftovers, and had rarely any time to eat as they were always working and the employers were very strict. The punishments at Styal were light compared to the more brutal methods used to enforce discipline at other mills, as they would strap anyone who did not please the superintendent.
The boy next to me fell asleep; he got many a stroke. They always strapped us if we fell asleep. ” (9) Beatings were common, and sometimes vices or weights were attached to the nose and ears. As opposed to the discipline at Quarry Bank Mill, if a child was to run away, they would be fined 8d per day, plus expenses. But, in 1836, two 10 year old girls ran away and returned after four days. They were threatened with having their hair cut off, but after a consultation with the magistrates, they were confined for a period matching their absence.
The use of discipline in the Apprentice House, during learning was demonstrated on our visit. A pupil from our class had to hold a very, very light weight, with his arms held up (shoulder height), and held them up, until the teacher told them to sit back down. I think the museum told us about the period of time we wanted, without the slight adjustments of anachronisms. Overall, I don’t think Quarry Bank Mill was a typical cotton mill. I think this because; there was more attention to the employees, and the money that the Gregg’s were making.
Also, they concentrated on the state of living for the apprentices, and their education. It seems they wanted them to gain knowledge, by listening rather than actually doing it. The Gregg’s also imported a doctor for the Apprentices to ensure they had their health checked regularly, and to guarantee a safe environment for the children and guarantee good health. I think the Mill was brilliant as a museum, as it was very informative, interesting, and enlightening. The presentations the guides gave us were very useful, and also very interesting.
I think the visit was situated around the 18th century and the 19th century, as the records of attendance was shown, and the medical records left behind by the doctor was consumed. When looking at the museum, I thought it was not possible to study the specific time period (early nineteenth century), as there were many anachronisms, such as modern displays of tourists, and electrical devices. I personally think we need to look at other mills to justify the facts upon the education, the wages, discipline, and living/working conditions, to find the average upon all types of mills.