The Factory Learning Journey
Follow the Learning Journey steps and experience the world of the cotton factory.
Click on the steps below to explore.
The Factory Learning Journey Step 4
People are visiting the factories to marvel at the new machinery, some are fascinated and excited by the revolution in cotton manufacturing, unaware of the human costs. These first hand accounts give us an outsider's view of the scene, women and children were employed in preference to men because they were cheaper and thought to be more compliant!
".....We visited one of the biggest cotton mills. A steam powered engine in the basement powers almost all the innumerable wheels and spindles which are fitted on many floors built one above the other like a tower. We went dizzy at the sight of the endless mechanical life in these great halls. In all of them we saw young women knotting together the yarns which rarely tore off from the constantly turning spindles, putting nappies on children and winding the yarn which had been spun. In one hall the still un-spun cotton was cleaned; it lay on large tables looking like cotton wool; a number of women and girls armed with a thin stick in each hand were happily thrashing it. Everything is done in the easiest way with machines, all which seem to us a miracle of industry. Everything in the factory, even the most unimportant thing, happens with admirable precision and neatness and at the same time with the greatest speed. At the end it seemed to us as if all these wheels were really alive and the people occupied with them the machines.
Source: Johanna Schopenhauer (1830) in L.D. Bradshaw (ed.) Visitors to Manchester: A selection of British and Foreign Visitors Descriptions of Manchester from c1538 to 1865.
Click on the links below to hear sounds of cotton machinery running in the mill
Track 6 Breaker Helmshore Textile Museum
Track 12 Spinning Jenny
Follow the learning journey steps to find out more about conditions in the factory!