Continued from Part 1 ,this is an extract of Mary Berry’s journals from 08 November 1805. Speaking of hundreds of children employed in the Cotton Mills and conditions inside Blantyre works, Mary writes of her visit that day,
“In the mean time all such care is taken of these children as perhaps in such a situation is possible. They have a building where the parish children and such as come to them from a distance are lodged, girls and boys separately; they have porridge of oatmeal at breakfast and supper, and broth and beef for dinner. They have a master to teach them to read and write, which is done after their work is over at night, and they are carried to church on a Sunday.
But what an idea of that religion must these poor souls have, which coops them up in a church for three hours to hear a (to them) unintelligible Scotch sermon, on the only day they are allowed the ‘common air and common use of their own limbs.’ Oh man, man, man ! what ugly things in detail are most of thy finest contrivances !
The men and women are in general all at piecework. The carders and reelers —I mean those who attend the carding and reeling (for everything here is done by machinery), are all women ; they earn about ten shillings per week, the spinners from fifteen to sixteen shillings per week ; these too are almost all women, and have two children attending the particular machine that each belongs to.
The women and girls that are at weekly wages, such as those who tie up and sort the hanks of cotton thread when spun, receive from six to seven shillings per week. The men make from a guinea to two pounds per week. I cannot say that in general the women looked unhealthy ; they were for the most part young girls about and under twenty, and some of them good looking. Some, on the contrary, objects sadly disfigured by nature.
They all work, as in all manufactories, in large lofts, heated by a large tin tube of steam, going the whole length of the room, and giving any required degree of warmth ; it was today most oppressive, when joined to the smell of the cotton, of the oil of the machines, and of the people working them. This, however, might certainly be avoided considerably by letting in fresh air at the windows on both sides, all of which open, but which the overseer said they seldom used, and which were almost all shut to day, though the air was uncommonly mild without, and most oppressingly hot within.”
Pictured here in yet another exclusive new photo for Blantyre, is Blantyre Mills, in 1903 awaiting demolition.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
With thanks to Jack Daniels for providing the journal entry.