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 5
In reality life for the workers is hard. The factory system ensures that there is no respite from the endless demands of the machines.
Working conditions in the mills only improve slightly in 1802 with the 'Health and Morals of Apprentices Act' which limits the work of children in textile mills to 12 hours per day, sets minimum standards of accommodation and requires infectious diseases to be reported. The Earl of Shaftesbury and other humanitarian factory owners, such as Robert Owen, Robert Peel and John Fielden, continue to campaign for further improvements. A report from the Royal Commission into working conditions shocks both parliament and the public and gradually laws are passed to force change. The 'Factories Acts' of 1833 (Althorps Act) limit children under the age of 16 to work 12 hours per day but there are no factory inspectors to enforce the law. It is not until the 1847 'Factories Act' that the 10 hour day became law for women and children. Despite these changes the conditions on the factory floor remain gruelling:
Johan Georg kohl describes his visit to a cotton mill in 1844
".... Orrells Mill is a very complete factory; the cotton is brought to it raw from America or Egypt, and it is here cleaned, spun and woven. It employs no less than 1,300 looms. These are all placed in one great weaving room, in which 650 girls are constantly at work. The humming, beating and whirring of all these looms filled the room with noise like the roaring of the sea. This factory is one of the best built of any; yet I found the air intolerably close and suffocating in some parts. I was also sorry to observe the terrible narrowness of the passes between the dangerous machines and their restless and gigantic arms and wheels; in these passes the floor was also extremely smooth and slippery. "
(source: Johan Georg Khol, (1844 ) 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 link below to hear the deafening sound of a Lancashire Loom weavinng shed!
Follow the learning journey steps to find out how people at fun at work!