Tuesday, June 17, 2008

English Weavers, 1820


I am 81 years of age and can remember hand loom weavers and weaving as far back as 1820 in East Lancashire. I have a painful recollection of the poverty and distress among hand loom weavers. Our family consisted of father and mother and eight children, all dependent upon hand looms. Breakfast in our home was oaten meal porridge sweetened with treacle, eaten with small beer; dinner, meat only on Sunday, and that chiefly bones boiled into soup; the rest of the week's dinners, potatoes and oaten cakes, seldom butter and never cheese; supper, similar to breakfast. The quantity of these was stinted, so that we often had not enough to eat.

As to wages, an ordinary man could not earn more than 10 shillings per week, and often he could not procure enough warp and weft even to earn that. The idea of "putting £1 notes between slices of bread and butter" is simply monstrous. In respect to the statement of kindness and sympathy between employers and employed, I can only recollect grinding poverty and cringing dependence, which had the effect of taking away a man's self respect. When I think of my early days — poor food, poor clothing, poor homes, no day school — I do not wish to see the "golden ago" back again. — Spectator.

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