Sunday, 14 March 2010

Monochrome Weekend - Cogs and wheels

These are the huge cogs and wheels on one end of a spinning machine. You can see from this how big an issue health and safety would have been in a Victorian mill. There don't appear to be any guards on the machinery. Workers, especially women and children, were frequently injured or killed by the machinery - hair, clothes and scarves got caught, fingers trapped and limbs crushed, and there were reports that some children - who worked long hours until factory reforms were eventually brought in - were scalped when they crawled under the machines or killed when they went to sleep and fell into the machinery.

Thankfully, Titus Salt was not at all uncaring about his workers. In 1868, he built Salts Hospital - originally as a two-storey building with a six-bed casualty ward for accidents at the mill. In time, this grew into a cottage hospital for the whole community. (I haven't yet shown you a good picture of the hospital. I hope to remedy that before too long.)

It's interesting to see that the manufacturer of the spinning machine in the photo was a company in Keighley (pronounced Keethley!), a few miles up the Aire Valley from Saltaire. When textile production in this area died out, it affected many more than those who actually worked in the textile mills themselves.

Visit The Monochrome Weekend site for more B&W photos.


  1. I really love these kind of shots !! Very beautiful !!

  2. Before they had heard of Health & Safety; great to see it in monochrome!

  3. Isn't it interesting how the cogs vary in design!

    I'm very much enjoying these history lessons Jenny.

  4. Rather beautiful aren't they.

  5. Horrifying to work at, but so beautiful - especially in B&W.

  6. Oh this is a gorgeous b&w image. I'm wondering if the emblem above the nameplate is in gold though. ~Lili

  7. Great blog and information. My grandmother worked in a mill in either Lancashire or Yorkshire when she was a child and because she was very small she had to crawl into tight places which were very dangerous. When I knew my grandmother she lived in Newmiller Dam near Wakefield You may like to see this post of when I visited my place of the link and I hope it works.

    North England

  8. Hi Jenny. I like the photo of the powerloom in Salt's mill. Would it be possible for us to use it on a book cover we're publishing? It's about the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and this image would be good. Many thanks
    Alistair Hodge


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