How Conditions in Styal Differ from Other Mills
Quarry Bank Mill in Styal differed widely from other textiles mills in
the area. Samuel Greg, the owner of Quarry Bank Mill, was a reasonable
employer. He treated employees well in return for a hard days work.
Robert Owen the owner of New Lanark Mill in Scotland was also a fair
employer; the conditions were similar to Styal but slightly better.
Owen felt strongly about cutting working hours down. Workers were
fortunate, at this time in some ways, to work for Greg and Owen and
were content with their lives. In Styal an employer’s working day
lasted for 12 hours. In New Lanark employees worked a 10 hour shift,
whilst in mills in the towns such as Manchester and Blackburn a
typical working day lasted between 12 and 14 hours. Conditions in
Manchester and town mills were poor and workers were unlucky having to
In the Cotton Industry most workers earned fixed wages, but spinners
were paid piece rates so if any problems did occur such as a drop in
trade it would lead to wages being reduced. Women were generally paid
less than men. The wages paid at Quarry Bank and New Lanark were lower
than at Manchester but the standard of living was much better. Greg
and Owen provided all apprentices with, food, shelter, clothing and
even beds. Where as in the towns workers lived in over crowded jerry
built houses with polluted air having to buy their own food and
clothes. Most apprentices were satisfied at Style and New Lanark and
many even stayed on after their indentures were over.
The new cotton mills were full of people unfamiliar with the new
machinery and long working hours, therefore there was a great risk of
injuries. The long working hours resulted in the workers loosing
concentration and the unguarded machines the workers were not familiar
with resulted in accidents. Apprentices were often injured because
their work involved going under machines, fingers getting mangled was
a common occurrence due to the unguarded machines. At Styal Mill there
was only one recorded death, a child killed in a weaving machine. Both
at New Lanark and Styal there were very few recorded accidents.
However at the Manchester Mills accidents happened on a regular basis,
1 in 5 accidents admitted to Manchester Royal were factory accidents.
Samuel Greg had a strong hold over his employees; order of factory
life was enforced in order to ensure he had an efficient disciplined
workforce. The workers had few rights and anyone caught disobeying the
rules would be heavily fined or dismissed. They were fined for things
such as whistling, breaking windows or being late. At Styal fines were
paid by children doing over time in their dinner breaks. A serious
offence was to run away which caused a lot of inconvenience. The fine
was 8d per day plus expenses, any...