History Mesh

Cotton factories (18th–19th Century)

Large-scale non-mechanised factories bringing together workers and specialised equipment, intertwined with the rise of the UK cotton industry. The later development of the steam engine and power loom enabled further growth by mechanisation.

Relation to Textiles:

The advances in spinning and weaving technology and the need for large custom-built buildings to house the new machines (such as the water frame) led to the cotton industry moving away from cottages and towards new purpose-built factories, often next to a water source to provide the power for the new machines.

These cotton mills also pioneered many aspects of modern industrial operation; many employees had only a single job, they were employed rather than just contracted, and their schedule was decided by a clock rather than daylight hours. In addition, most mills built large estates to house all the new workers, building up new communities.

The darker side was that the number of children employed (and injured) in the factories was substantial; children were often the right size to work in amongst the machines, right next to all the moving parts.

Read more about Cotton factories on Wikipedia.