The Textile Time Tunnel takes you back 300 years to the early 1700’s. A local farmer helped to supplement his income by selling raw cotton to the local handloom weavers, which they wove into calico. From a single room families worked, slept and ate, often sharing 6 to a bed. The wife would spin and the husband would weave. The family were considered to be quite affluent earning £1 a week. All this was to change!
The ‘Spinning Jenny’ was invented by James Hargreaves, an ancestor of the current mill owners. His invention brought about factory style production and the start of the Industrial Revolution. Before the ‘Spinning Jenny’ it had taken 8 spinners to keep 1 weaver at work, now cotton was plentiful and the weavers saw their wage fall from one pound a week to 5 shillings.
Worried about their futures, and angered by the changes the weavers rioted. In 1826, 26 looms were smashed by the mob at Moscow Mill.
When the American Civil War broke out in 1861 a widespread cotton famine occurred. Finding themselves unable to operate, the mill owners set up soup kitchens to help feed their employees and many would pawn their belongings to buy bread to survive. To combat over-sleeping a ‘knocker up’ was employed by many households at the cost of 1p per house, using a long pole to tap at the bedroom window. At the mill entrance a bell would hang near the door. Anyone who wasn’t inside the mill when the bell rung was locked out, the mill owners simply employed the first persons waiting in the queue.