Quarry Bank Mill
In this piece of coursework we are asked to compare the sources provided and make reasonable judgement about the reliability of the evidence in order to explain the working conditions for factory children in the 18th & 19th century. Children had always worked for their parents in the domestic system.
By the 1820’s & 1830’s the controversy over “working conditions” had become a bitter debate involving MPs, newspapers, campaign groups and government inquiries. Employers would argue that the pauper apprentices system was offering a valuable service to the parishes. In the days of waterpower, Mills had to be placed in rural areas, where the mill would be isolated. From the mill owners’ point of view there was often little alternative to pauper apprentices. It also made economic sense to employ children. Children were ideal, particularly in jobs such as cleaning up under machines or piecers.
They were also very cheap to employ and low wages meant kept down the price of cotton, which was good for everyone. Firstly, I will examine all the sources provided. It would also be mindful to remember whilst studying this period that attitudes changed immensely over time. What may be unacceptable or practise in today’s working environment was seen as the norm at that time. Also, we need to be aware that up to the date 19th century, child labour was always an important part of life, and child wages were seen as intergural to survive for many working families.
Most of these children and (pauper children) were bought to the mill by parents themselves mainly because prices were too high to cope on ones wage. In some mills apprentices were badly treated. They worked the same very long hours as adults for little pay. They received no education. I intend to begin my coursework by looking at all the sources provided and analysing them first to reach a judgement. Source A is an eyewitness account of a visit to Quarry Bank Mill in 1845. It has been taken from Frederick Engles from The Condition of the Working Class in 1845.
Engles provides us with a positive statement about The Conditions at Quarry Bank Mill. This quote suggests some of the positive remarks he made, ” He leads you through a superb building… he gives you an excellent lunch. ” Engles is unable to criticise the appearance of the apprentices. In this source Frederick Engles complains he can not get to the real truth as Greg is always present and the children are afraid to tell him of any grievances they had for fear of losing their job.
This quote shows exactly how Greg accompanied Engles everywhere, “The presence of the employer keeps you from asking indiscreet questions. ” Engles also assumes that the operatives’ hate the manufacture, “That the people hate the manufacturer,” but does not have any concentrate evidence to support his theory. He also assumes the employees would be sacked for reading Chartists or Socialists newspapers. In the 18th and 19th century, wealthier people were in command of poor people.
Wealthier people did not want poor people to read newspapers mainly because it contained the economic factor and they did not want to increase the knowledge of poor people. This result made groups such as Chartist ones. In the early 19th century Chartism stated and they were fighting for MP’s to back poor people. Chartist newspapers would be socialist and Frederick Engles was indeed one of them. Source A is both reliable and unreliable to some extent. Engles is unable to criticise the appearances of the factory or conditions of the apprentices.
Therefore, he has no other means but he praises Greg. However, Engles also states and goes on to criticise and treatment of the apprentices by claiming he rules by fear and that every worker hates his boss. Engles produces no eyewitnesses or evidence to confirm his hypothesis and he brings on his own bias opinion describing the operatives as “slaves. ” This source is however very useful. It gives us an insight in to the working conditions at other factories and it also explains to us how people like Engles viewed the attitude of most employers at that time.
Next I will look at Source B. Source B is about child labour at Quarry Bank Mill in 1833. This source is again only an extract from an interview between the super-intendants who looked after Greg’s apprentices at Quarry Bank Mill (George and Elizabeth Showcross) and a government official checking on how apprentices were treated. The interview took place in 1833 in London. Greg was also present when the interview took place. There is no evidence that the government officials visited the site Quarry Bank Mill. Source B exactly shows how the interview was taken place.
The government official interviewed the super intend-ant in London and this directly shows how working condition was dealt with. As there is no evidence they visited Quarry Bank Mill it shows that officials only interviewed the super intend-ants but did not go and visually see the condition themselves. This source is an interview asking for figures such as accident rate and death rate and sickness rate. This source is both reliable and un-reliable. The super intend-ants may have lied about the conditions and about the figures asked to them.
In this source again Greg is present and this may jeopardise the interview as the super intend-ants will have to say the conditions are up to standards mainly because they fear Samuel Greg. Next I will look at Source C. Source C is about the conditions in the Cotton Industry in the 1830’s. It is taken from a book called A Social and Economic History of Britain. This source is very useful. Firstly in this source, Dr. Greg describes the contract the apprentices agreed on as, “entered into contracts with the Poor Law authorities… f the town for pauper children. ” She also describes the apprentice to the cotton masters as, “To the cotton master they (the apprentice children) were as much as his property. ” This clearly shows how appalling conditions were at that time.
This source is very useful as it describes the conditions and many appalling conditions and shocking treatments of apprentices at that time. Dr. Gregg (Pauline Gregg) describes the factories as, “The factories themselves were generally dirty, unhealthy, ramshackle. This indeed is the total opposite from Frederick Engles extract. Frederick Engles in Source A describes Quarry Bank Mill as, “superb building… lofty airy rooms and healthy looking operatives. ” This shows a massive difference at Quarry Bank Mill compared to the awful conditions on other factories. Dr. Gregg describes the apprentice lodging as “long, low sheds. ”
This clearly shows how factories (not including Quarry Bank Mill) were providing the apprentice housing. Dr. Gregg also states that the apprentices were, “free from outside supervision and regulation. This shows there was no supervision unlike Styal were there were super-intend-ants to look after the children and provide them with food. Dr. Gregg also empathises the point how apprentice were kept awake as, “suffered constant flogging. ” This shows how working conditions were and shows how harsh the employer was. Dr. Gregg also states about the punishment apprentices received, “punishment was hung by his wrists… legs up to avoid mutilation. ” This shows that punishment were life threatening. This shows how physical punishment was used unlike Styal.
This source is both reliable and unreliable. Another main problem in this source is Dr. Gregg fails to tell us where she got her information from. She fails to provide any provenance for this source. It seems likely that Dr. Gregg fully researched for her book because she’s an Historian and regularly updated her information but again she may have been trying to exaggerate her information sells more books and increase her revenue or simply bring more attention to the plight of apprentices on the 18th Century and the 19th Century. It may also be biased. Next I will look at Source D.
Source D is an account by Robert Hyde Greg of the punishment of Esther Price, an apprentice at Quarry Bank Mill. The account was given in 1843. In 1835, Esther Price and other girls committed an assault an apprentice. This incident happened in 1835, but was written by Greg eight years later. Robert Hyde Greg describes the girl that Esther Price violently assaulted on as, “fellow apprentice. ” This shows how the employer (Robert Hyde Greg) felt sympathy on the girl. Robert Hyde Greg sent the girls (Esther Price and a girl) to the magistrate before any punishment was given.
This shows how punishment was not so severe and life threatening compared to other factories at that time (relate to source C). Robert Hyde Greg ordered the girls solitary confinement but no physical punishment was done. They also debated on the old punishment of cutting off the hair but they did not do. This was seen as a very awful punishment. Robert Hyde Greg states how a girl was confined in a spare room for 3 days and still received porridge twice a day. He also states how the windows were not boarded up. In those times this punishment was seen as very mild compared to Source C.
It shows how Greg knew that punishment was only to be done to teach a lesson not to torture them. Further on this source, Robert Hyde Greg describes and gives a reasonable reason why the windows were boarded up, “boarded, partly to prevent her escape… partially dark. ” This shows a reasonable reason and also shows how Greg is saying the truth. He also gave the punishment girls sufficient amount of food and this shows they were not starved. In this source we are not told why. Greg left an account of Esther Price. This may be because the incident was pending on a court case.
This source is therefore open to criticism as Greg’s memory of it may have have altered, or he may have played down the punishment of the girl to protect his reputation. We can see that it may be unreliable and bias. Next I will study Source E. Source E is a mule spinning factory in 1835. It is an illustration made at that time. This illustration shows an ideal factory in terms of conditions; however we are not told whether this is a real or imagining factory. We do not know who the illustrator was and question did he/she work for the mill owner. This illustration questions in many aspects.
Was it made to try to convince the Parliament that the terrible goings in factories was false or exaggerated. Was it just drawn as a postcard? We do not know, therefore I can only question the profaneness and reliability and bias of this source. It could be a very good example of an enlightened mill owner and in this case it could be useful as an example of a better type of Mill owner. However, this source is too vague for me to make a reasonable judgement. I have now analysed the sources provided but I am unable to reach a definite conclusion regarding the working conditions of children in textile mills in the 18th and 19th century.
The evidence I have examined is confadictory and unreliable. Therefore, I have completed my own research from various books and I will make and analyse these sources and cross reference these sources and follow this with my conclusion. I have found another source Robert Owen who was excellent to his apprentices and was known for a good attitude. He loaned money, sum of i?? 100 and set up a partnership at only the age of nineteen with John Jones, an engineer. One of the sources I gathered is from, “The Report of The Children’s Employment Commission,” in 1843. In Willenahll, the children are shamefully and most cruelly beaten with a horsewhip, strap, hammer, file or whatever tool is nearest hand, or are struck wih the clenched fist or kicked. ” This quote indicates that in Willenhall children were poorly treated. It also indicates how the Children’s Commission Report shows how they recorded data about child labour. This however, is the total opposite from Quarry Bank Mill. In Quarry Bank Mill, there was no physical assault done to harm the child in anyway.
This source is reliable because it is a report from the Commission; however it be unreliable as it can be exaggerated. I also found another source adapted from modern History book. “Gardener and Bazley treated their workers with much kindness. ” This quote shows how the mill owners treated their workers. However, the source also indicates that it may not be reliable. It is from a modern history book and there is no indication that how it had collected the information. I can not comment its reliability because there is not any concrete evidence to back it up. Another factory I came across was Titus Salt.
He inherited his father’s company and took his place. Between 1801 and 1851 the population of Bradford grew from 13,000 to 104,000. With over 200 factory chimneys continually churning out black, sulphurous smoke, Bradford gained the reputation of being the most polluted town in England. Bradford’s sewage was dumped into the River Beck. As people also obtained their drinking water from the river, this created serious health problems. There were regular outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and life expectancy was just over eighteen years; one of the lowest in the country.
Get help with your homework
We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails